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.