The lights are on
So here we have it. The sequel to the highly regarded LoS. The bar was set with an epic story, stunning environments and solid production values and polish. It is incredibly disappointing to see this sequel crash and burn so spectacularly, largely due to a number of catastrophically inept design decisions. I would rather donate blood plasma to Deacon Frost before I engage in another "stealth" section of LoS 2.
I will break down the review into a couple categories, PC version reviewed.
GTX 690 x2
Core i7 2700k
An unoptimized, performance hog of a game. Surfaces are jagged with aliasing everywhere, muddy textures, and incredibly uninspired and drab environments. This game was developed on a strict budget, and it shows badly. Cutscenes have severe frame rate drops, and the depth of field effect kicks in before needed to clearly hide the amateurish lighting and texture work. The entire premise of modern day castlevania should be scrapped never to see the light of day ever again. Some of the medieval environments look passable, but overall a seismic step back from LoS ultimate edition. I simply cannot overstate how terrible of a design decision it was to put Dracula in a modern day setting. It's comical.
Decent menu screens, somewhat clear objectives and level up screens. Poor load times, masked by the fake "decontamination" stations and endless elevators, etc. That's 2008 technique, and this console port is partly to blame. Just very mediocre and bland overall.
Spectacular job with the OST, great symphony orchestra type tunes, especially in medieval areas. Weapon sounds and attacks sound convincing and clear. By far the strongest point of the game.
Wow. What the hell happened?! On one hand, you have fun, albeit repetitive, hacking and slashing and smashing and dashing, fighting with giants, destroying all in your path. On the other hand, stealth? Are you serious mercury steam? I cannot even fathom how it was possible that these horrific canned sections from hell made it into this game. It is insulting to the player that Dracula has to hide from any enemy, exacerbated by the fact that the game takes it so seriously. These sections completely destroy the experience beyond repair. GOW clones don't have stealth sections, especially ones with a single solution. It's archaic trial and error game design. That's like taking Kratos' blades away and having him sneak by some harpies. I could not personally stomach it let alone find a way to justify their existence. Terribly executed, I would be embarrassed if I designed that and sold it to the public. One other major flaw of note is the ridiculous level of hand holding. This game is touted as open world, but it proceeds to hold your hand by magically having bats appear to show you the way. Thanks for the linearity. Moving on.
Dracula usually moves fairly fluidly, jumping and dashing with good agility and attacking with solid responsiveness. The weapons employed are particularly cool, especially the gauntlet type fist weapons. Can't really complain here, solid combat control overall. The biggest offender here is the movable camera, they made a huge mistake in my opinion by giving direct control to the player. It is clunky, unresponsive and gets in the way during battle. No one wants to sub consciously think about having to manually adjust camera angles when all hell is breaking loose. Also, mercury steam seems to believe that they have the same platforming development technique as Sony. They are sadly mistaken. Dracula falls off ledges and cliffs with ease, while the camera fights you while climbing giants and other scalable objects. Some polish here would have netted out a higher score.
What a monumental disappointment. As a big fan of LoS, the best way for me to explain what happened here is to basically say that LOS got DMC 2'ed with this sequel. Personally I am starting to shy away from Japanese publishers and developers because they are failing to evolve with the rapidly changing video game landscape. They just put out garbage with too high a frequency. The same can be said of games like Resident Evil, Lost planet, Final Fantasy 13 X2 and lightning returns, and the list goes on and on. Don't get me wrong there are a few that are good, but too much trash is released and expected to be sold based on name fame from 20 years ago. I hope this review was help ful, and feedback is always welcome. Thanks