Demon Possibly Weeping: Lords of Shadow 2

By Ben Barrett on August 23rd, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Oh, videogames. You make it so hard to love you. My undying adoration for oft-derided popular AAA FPSs has been echoed in recent days, but really I’m just a fan of high-octane, huge budget, nicely animated action. From Darksiders to Call of Duty, Bulletstorm to DmC there’s nothing I enjoy more than having my young white male preferences thoroughly exploited. Yet there is a line that must be drawn when something looks so generic, and tries to sell such basic concepts as new and original, that even I stop to frown. Such is the way with the latest Castlevania: Lord of Shadows 2 trailer.

How are they expecting me to react? “Oh man, a life-stealing weapon?! And power that builds as you hit enemies?! What new and original concepts that definitely haven’t been genre mainstays since 2001! I’ll rush out to buy a copy!” The only thing I’ll need is a sarcasm refill and perhaps a wit extension, so as not to reach the end so quickly next time. I mean come on your EPIC MAN voice over is at this point actively harming your game. I tried watching with the sound off and it was a superior experience; removing the ridiculous text overlay would be the next step.

The worst part is it exemplifies everything that people take issue with the “AAA experience” over. In 2003 Devil May Cry 2 came out and there’s not been a new Action RPG/Hack ‘n’ Slash since. They’ve been trading on the exact same combo-rhythm play and dark medieval visuals for ten years. Individual art styles, brand names and the odd bright spark of unique brilliance (or just being so wonderfully over the top I don’t care) keep me interested, but when the repetition is thrown in my face so obviously I begin to tire.

Take away all the extracurricular crap and just show me the game and Lords of Shadow 2 could actually get my attention. It’s proper gorgeous and the transition of a 2D side-scroller to 3D action game interests me. Seeing how the developers choose to interpret old ideas in a new engine is cool. Even some of the generic elements – a whip weapon, blood-as-health, magic powers – have been part of Castlevania since its inception. This makes them excusable when not branded as new.

If you’d like to see what the series has to offer for yourself, Lords of Shadow 1 is out on PC August 27th and you can check out a demo now. LoS2 launches early next year.

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56 Comments »

  1. Serpok says:

    Who is this grumpus?

  2. HermitUK says:

    The original Lords of Shadow was alright, though the game was far more interested in its story than its gameplay. There was a lot of game there, but the levels tended to blur into one after a while.

  3. DrScuttles says:

    Sure, there’s only so many times they can pump out the 2D Castlevania games before they become utterly tiresome, but I’d be all over a fullscreen hi-res Castlevania in the vein (eh, eh?) of Dawn of Sorrow like creepy Uncle Monty.

  4. SomeDuder says:

    Woah, look at that kid getting smacked around. Excellent, that’ll teach this terrible generation that it’s NOT okay to hang around monsters.

    • Shadowcat says:

      Yeah, I think the little kid was pretty much cut in half on at least a couple of occasions (not to mention all the times the player-character’s whip was flailing around through the kid’s body to no effect).

  5. GamesInquirer says:

    I think the multiple elder scrolls, the dark souls, the kingdoms of amalur, the risens and the fables, the fallouts and the witchers, the divinities and mass effects, and many many more have plenty differences to each other and don’t at all resemble devil may cry, while some of them are worthwhile experiences way more than the sum of their parts may suggest (like dark souls which might look like generic medieval fare that tasks you with swinging swords at foes, yet presents a fresh experience that’s actually way closer to the 2D metroidvanias than these 3D castlevania games seem to be).

    As for actual action games like this, most wish they were like devil may cry, very few achieve equal quality but they do exist, like ninja gaiden, metal gear rising, bayonetta and the wonderful 101. Again though they’re all very very different and far from generic medieval fantasies (shit, even devil may cry which is blamed for an army of clones isn’t like that at all, I mean, guns are an integral part of its experience). Acting like every other one is just like devil may cry does the genre no justice.

    For further differences and more fresh experiences one might play different genres which aren’t just about kicking/slashing the shit out of people though, that should work.

    Ps: I didn’t refer to devil may cry 2 specifically in my post because that one is the black sheep, even worse than the latest. When someone refers to the merits of the series they most certainly don’t mean that game so it’s kind of baffling that’s the one used as the genre example in the article.

    • Pich says:

      Those games you listed are a completely different genre than DMC, Rising, bayonetta, etc. I don’t know why he referred to them as Action RPG.

    • Reapy says:

      Right, all of those games sort of wiggle around the genera and have a different feel. I mean I understand the sentiment of his rant, but it is a little over reaching. It is sort of like complaining that an FPS game came out with guns. When making a console style brawler it will have tap tap tappy combos and dodge rolls.

      The “I need to copy GTA with my voice over” thing should probably stop though.

  6. bit.bat says:

    If you turn off the sound then you will not find out that if you do things right the game will “allow the player to feel very powerfull”. Thanks game!

  7. bigjig says:

    Eh not every game is aimed at a “30-something games journalist who’s seen it all before”. You have to remember that Castlevania games have always been aimed at kids who might be playing this type of game for the first time.

  8. Smion says:

    The only thing I demand from this game is Patrick Stewart! (also not to murder my entire family or sign up for fetish porn newsletter or hijack my facebook account and spam messages about Hideo Kojima, but mostly Patrick Stewart.)

    • trjp says:

      What’s funnier – if you’ve played the first one (coming to PC very soon – after only about 2 years delay?) is that whilst they have Patrick Stewart, they clearly WANTED Sean Connery.

      The person he voiced looks like Connery (specifically his role in Highlander) – or perhaps Christopher Lee ;)

  9. NailBombed says:

    Meh. The real spirit of Castlevania died after Order Of Ecclesia.
    The MercurySteam LOS titles, I’m still hoping, are a misguided Gaiden offshoot, and sometime down the line WayForward will return it to it’s proper 2D hard-as-feck platforming roots. And not have bloody goddamn DRACULA as the protagonist.

    • BTAxis says:

      The real spirit of Castlevania died before Order Of Ecclesia.

      • NailBombed says:

        The RPG/Metroid-like elements of the games after Rondo Of Blood didn’t appeal to everyone, yeah. But they are still more legitimate than this God Of War clone franchise we’ve been offered.

        • BTAxis says:

          Oh, I think the SotN style befits Castlevania just fine. But Order of Ecclesia was definitely not a worthy entry even in that context. It had none of the exploration and freeform feel of the games preceding it, it was just corridor after pointless corridor. I really don’t know what Konami were thinking with that one.

          • Fetthesten says:

            If I were to guess, I’d say they were trying to recapture what you might call the “real spirit of Castlevania”. Seeing as the earliest games were, after all, “just corridor after pointless corridor”. Except not pointless, at least in my opinion. I for one liked Order of Ecclesia, which reminded me of a less horribly broken Simon’s Quest.

          • Wedge says:

            How much of it did you play? It starts slow and bland, but Order Of Ecclesia is among the BEST in the series, and had some of the tightest and deepest combat in any of the metroidvania’s.

          • Totally heterosexual says:

            As opposed to what, every other castlevania?

            You are talking shit.

  10. Wauffles says:

    “In 2003 Devil May Cry 2 came out and there’s not been a new Action RPG/Hack ‘n’ Slash since. ”

    uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  11. FuktLogik says:

    “both LoS 2 and its predecessor are out on PC August 27th”

    Ummm, no. LoS 2 is out in 2014… Where did you get the idea that it’s out in a couple days?

    • Wut The Melon says:

      You’re right, but RPS has been reporting that LoS 2 and LoS will be releasing at the same time since the very first post about LoS they made. I think they made a mistake somewhere and never corrected it.

      Hey RPS, I understand you don’t care about this game (and the trailer was pretty bad – more of a tutorial), but can you just correct LoS 2′s release date, wherever you keep it?

    • Ben Barrett says:

      Hi guys!

      You’re right. The misreport comes from the source we use for a lot of this sort of stuff having the wrong release date listed. I did think it was slightly odd. Corrected, and thanks.

  12. tumbleworld says:

    Why the hell is a stone golem doubling as a blood pinata? You’re a very silly game.

    • GamesInquirer says:

      Actually if you watch more of this boring gameplay explanation you will see that it’s probably because the castle is rebelling against dracula and taking control of minions that would otherwise side with him by its evil blood. Or something.

  13. JediEagle says:

    Wow, this site really hates LoS series :D Oh well, I think it’s great and god forbid that they released a trailer that shows game mechanics. They may not be new to all, but are new to a lot of people who’s first Castlevania was LoS. The industry’s isnt filled with just us “old we have seen it all before farts”, you know :)

  14. RoShamPoe says:

    I read RPS daily, but rarely comment. Lately, it’s becoming half great articles and half drivel for me. This article is the latter. Lords of Shadow wasn’t a great game, but it was a very good one. And an excellent God of War clone, sure. But I didn’t own a PS3 until a week ago, so at the time, this clone was the best a 360 had to offer. (and for that matter, probably PC)

    I’m not sure why all games need to innovate. Nor am I sure why whenever these titles come up, someone inevitably brings up how much better the 2d Castlevania games are. So what? Do you really think these titles are preventing other devs from making 2d Castlevanias? It’s a pretty absurd notion.

    On innovation: This game didn’t innovate much, that’s for sure. I will say it’s probably one of the best looking games on the 360 and that shackled naked demon breasts are pretty cool. It also had Patrick Stewart. But I could probably go through a host of games in the last year that have been highly regarded on this site and point out aspects of games that haven’t innovated. For instance, while Sir, You Are Being Hunted has quite a few innovative features, its graphics and inventory are very outdated. I still can’t wait to play it.

    If you want to write a review on LoS 2 and bring up its lack of innovation (assuming it exists), feel free. You’re commenting on a tutorial gameplay video here, not a trailer. It’s seems incredibly silly of you to judge the game on a gameplay video you didn’t like due to the presentation.

    To me, this reeks of a blog post intended solely to stir up shit. And that’s too bad because it’s at the expense of a developer that really is trying to make these games love letters to the Castlevania series.

    • dE says:

      Let me fix a few things for you.
      “Lords of Shadow wasn’t a great game, but it was a very goodmediocre one.”
      “And a n excellent carbon copy God of War clone, sure.”
      this clone Bayonetta was the best a 360 had to offer”
      “shackled naked demon breasts are pretty coolFanservice”
      “It’s seems incredibly sillysound of you to judge the game on a gameplay video you didn’t like due to the presentation. experiences from Lords of Shadow 1 and videos showing it’s more of the same”
      “it’s at the expense of a developer that really is trying to make these games love letters a flipped finger to the Castlevania series.”

      • rightyeauhuh says:

        You actually thought this strike gimmick was clever and didn’t realize in all that effort how terribly unfunny it actually was, huh?

        • dE says:

          My intention wasn’t to be funny. But since your intention was to get on my blocklist: granted.

          • RoShamPoe says:

            Maybe not funny, but you damn sure thought you were clever. Go ahead and block me as well, you’re already shown you can’t have an intelligent conversation.

          • dE says:

            Interesting, both posters, rightyeauhuh and RoShamPoe don’t come up with anything but these posts here in a quick google search. One of which is a flaming hymn towards Lords of Shadow with a lot of marketing glamour terms like “love letters to the series”. And the other is flamebaiting because I disagreed with the marketing spiel.
            It’s okay, I realized I don’t have to block you. You won’t show up again, unless there’s another Lords of Shadow Article.

    • Urthman says:

      shackled naked demon breasts are pretty cool

      God, I hope you’re twelve years old.

  15. Aysir says:

    RPS really should stop commenting on things they don’t fully understand, or at least first take a crash course in hack and slash. First DMC2 was a mediocre experiment of a game – it wasn’t outstanding in any aspect and Ninja Gaiden, God of War, Bayonetta, Bujingai, Devil Kings and hundreds of other hack and slash games game out after DMC2, all with new mechanics.
    The tone of this trailer is quite strange as it is more of a tutorial than a trailer, but nowhere does it pretend that any of this is brand new. A lot of it is the systems of LOS1, which were quite unique anyway. They’ve added a Soul Reaver style sword that requires special energy to maintain. It makes sense to rip on the marketing behind this trailer, but don’t suddenly call the game and the genre tired and generic without having played it – or realised that there are hundreds of hack and slash games that are nothing like DMC2.

  16. DatonKallandor says:

    The first Lords of Shadow is actually the best combo-brawler since DMC4. If LoS 2 is just as good it’s an instant classic. We get it RPS doesn’t like the aesthetic but to slag off the game because of it makes you no better than all the graphics-uber-alles morons.

  17. Ben Barrett says:

    Hello!

    Everybody seems a little riled up. I’ll try to explain some things and then maybe we can all calm down.

    First, to address some accusations that RPS hates LoS – I literally hadn’t even read John’s post until I wrote this, and then I only glanced at it to make sure it had the correct information to link to. There isn’t some conspiracy against the game, series, studio, publisher; we just both came to the conclusion, independently, that the pre-release materials we were looking at at the time were a bit naff. That’s it.

    Second, people reaaaalllllly don’t like that Devil May Cry 2 line. I think part of the reason for this is they’re taking it far more seriously than it was meant (for example, yes I know there have been games like this since DMC2. DMC3, 4 and the reboot, for example) – it’s a throwaway to imply some things and maybe illicit a smile. The elaboration afterwards is a little more serious and those saying I’m ignoring the differences between different Hack ‘n’ Slash games I would point there – when I outline ones with similar themes that do it better. In addition, apparently my definition of Action RPG differs from others. When used here, I meant to imply these 3rd person, long combo, double jump, collectible seeking, DMC-style games. Elder Scrolls, Dark Souls, et al I class as Western RPGs, mostly. I’ll make sure to use Hack’n'Slash in the future, however, as that seems to be more correct.

    “Why do games need to innovate?” isn’t a relevant question, as I’m not complaining that LoS2 doesn’t innovate. I’m complaining that LoS2, specifically this piece of marketing, is presenting its lack of innovation so plainly, so openly, to the point of almost bragging about it that it pissed me off. I really, really quite like the genre, but this is the sort of thing that actively stops it from bringing in a larger audience.

    To say I don’t like the aesthetic, or even that I don’t like the game, implies that you literally haven’t read the piece. Second last paragraph I call it gorgeous and say it has a shot at my attentions. In fact now, from some of the comments here and the realisation that it may run on my post-iceburg Titanic of a rig, I’m rather looking forward to giving LoS1 a shot. Maybe it’ll be good.

    Final thought: I don’t think I’m as much of an “old fart” as some of you may assume.

    • Arren says:

      Oy — just oy.

      Dark Souls is entirely Japanese. Calling it a “Western RPG” is quite a gaffe for an ostensible games journalist.

      It’s “elicit” a smile.

      One could go on with the scalpel, but what’s the point?

    • Aysir says:

      I get that it’s not an RPS conspiracy – it’s just that both you and John went head first into these articles without trying to get a proper handle on the game or genre.

      “The worst part is it exemplifies everything that people take issue with the “AAA experience” over. In 2003 Devil May Cry 2 came out and there’s not been a new Action RPG/Hack ‘n’ Slash since. They’ve been trading on the exact same combo-rhythm play and dark medieval visuals for ten years. Individual art styles, brand names and the odd bright spark of unique brilliance (or just being so wonderfully over the top I don’t care) keep me interested, but when the repetition is thrown in my face so obviously I begin to tire.”

      The problem with the article is just that one paragraph. Firstly you’ve managed to make it ambiguous if you’re now talking about LOS or this trailer alone. Devil May Cry 2 was a bad one to reference because its widely known as a huge mistep in the series. Apart from some of the most smoothly animated hair on a male head and a bit of acrobatic wall-running, DMC2 added very little from the first game, and broke a lot of other things. While not a bad game, it’s long been considered the worst in the series.
      The other games listed are great games, and with the exception of bayonetta, scored around the same or just lower than LOS overall.

      Basically it was a bad trailer. They should have got Kojima Productions to do one like they did for LOS1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0y8F0dQM1DI

      • dE says:

        But I feel repetition is a very fair point to be made about Lords of Shadow. There were games that tried to bring fresh elements into the genre or just execute hack and slash really well. But there were other titles too, many, many titles that tried to be like God of War. Games like Dante’s Inferno and – I’m sorry – Lords of Shadow.
        It seems so repetitive because it is. Lords of Shadow lifted entire sections from other games, not just the entire set of combat routines from God of War. I love hack and slash games, I’ve played so damn many of them and always find some new elements or get into a really good flow. Even those most consider bad ones. But Lords of Shadow is the one that made me go “meh, it’s really just quite the routine now, isn’t it?”. Lords of Shadow lacked the flow of combat, it lacked the finesse of a well made homage. It was Frankenstein’s hack and slash game, stitched together with no love.

        • Aysir says:

          “It seems so repetitive because it is” You’re first sentence is opinion, and that’s fine. But it seems so repetitive because it is? Really? Did you play LOS? The combo system is constantly adding stuff as you go along, you have to manage the light/dark powers, each of the boss encounters is unique and includes 3 shadow of the colossus style battles. There’s a fair amount of exploration (more than DMC4, or GOW3) a number of puzzle levels that focus on either platforming agility or just straight forward switch manipulation. The enemies vary quite heavily and are introduced at a steady pace so that you’re still coming across new enemies towards the end.
          The combat is as much like God of War as Devil May Cry is like Blades of Time. Yes DMC and BOT both have one button for sword attacks and one for shooting, but they’re used differently. If you want to see proper rip-off games check out Ghost Rider or Van Helsing :)

    • Bhazor says:

      I really like the genre

      Says the genre is based around DMC2.

      Still not as bad as John Walker’s bizarre hate piece about it though. Declaring that Lords of Shadow was betraying the legacy of Castlevania by being a linear action game. This despite Castlevania originally starting as a linear action adventure series before turning into a Metroid style ARPG.

    • RoShamPoe says:

      I re-read the article and you’re right Ben, you’re talking more about the marketing than the actual innovation of the game. I guess I missed that the first time around because I can only ask myself why? Why bother? It’s not some new and interesting trailer a’ la Dead Island or some exciting game play like Titanfall. So what’s the point? The trailer isn’t atrociously bad, it’s mediocre. And for the record, it isn’t marketed at gamers and reviewers that have seen dozens of these style games or the previous LoS. It looks to me a tutorial to excite newcomers to the series and perhaps the genre.

      It’s still mediocre, no doubt. But after grasping the context of your article a bit more clearly, it now seems even more petty to me. I like to talk about all things games, and hey, this is your arena, but was your intention just to stir the pot?

  18. Nenjin says:

    Dear guys who write the promo scripts for these videos:

    You know what the phrase “Dominate your enemies with little risk to yourself” translates to me as? Boredom. A game that asks you to do the thing it set up and as long as you do it, you’re not challenged, is a game that doesn’t get my money until it’s 75% off.

    Lots of games spoon feed the challenge to players today, but few of them march straight out and tell you what you need to do to be spoon fed.

    Also, I don’t have enough bars on the screen. I need at least two more arbitrary bars to fill up before I reach completely unassailable levels of powers. Perhaps a bar that fills up when I walk, and when it maxes out, I spew multi-colored orbs around me. These orbs fill up a second bar when picked up, and when that’s full I press a key combination that just makes everything in the level explode and its loot shoot towards me like I’m a magnet. Because as long as you’re focusing on gimmicky crap like that, why not double or even triple down?

    Also, FFS Dracula. Put a shirt on. No on is impressed, not the golems, weirdos or the 12 year old boy.

  19. Kein says:

    Haha, is this guy having a bad day? Such generic critique regarding default genre elements, pffft. Perhaps he choose wrong gamejur site.

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