Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Collection PS3 Review

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Collection
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Collection. Image © Konami

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We recently wrote about the best games of the PlayStation 3 generation that you probably haven’t played. Arguably the most popular and “played” game of that feature was the brilliant “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow,” a title that I felt was clearly popular but not enough given its overall quality. Now that we have a “collection” release for the title – not unlike compilation releases for “Batman: Arkham City” and “Borderlands 2” – maybe the proof is on the New Releases shelf that this actually was too popular a game for that feature.

It did produce two DLC releases – “Reverie” and “Resurrection” – which are both included in this collection along with a demo for the highly-anticipated, February-scheduled “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2” and the Nintendo DS-released “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate”. The actual game itself is still amazing and one that you must play but if you’re a fan coming to this set for the DLC or the demo, you may just want to hold off to get your supernatural action fix in 2014.

Game Details

 

  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Konami
  • ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
  • Genre: Action Adventure
  • Pros: Gorgeous Graphics, Deep Storytelling, Intense Gameplay
  • Cons: Extra Material Is Lesser, Small Demo

Gameplay

The catch with this collection is that the full PS3 game that gives it its title is still only the real draw in it. As much as I adore “Lords of Shadow,” arguably the most underrated game of the now-ending generation, I can’t quite get behind anything else in this release.

“Mirror of Fate” worked well enough on the DS but its simplicity of gameplay is awfully apparent on the PS3, even with upgraded graphics and adjusted gameplay. Both DLCs were notably derided by the game’s creator, who admitted that they were rushed into production to answer questions by the controversial ending of “Shadow” that perhaps should have remained mysterious until “Lords of Shadow 2.” And the demo leaves me a bit concerned.

Of course, I would never judge an upcoming game based on the quality of a demo but I hope the full title improves on what’s offered here. Note: Everything but the full game – the DS upgrade, two DLC packs, and demo – aren’t really on the disc, merely downloadable via a code in the case. So make you sure you have hard drive space and time to download set aside.

What should you expect from “Lords of Shadow”? A brilliant reimagining of one of the most beloved and influential games of all time. “Castlevania” has been forever altered as Gabriel Belmont has gone from a whip-snapping side-scroller to a “God of War”-esque smasher, complete with incredibly-designed puzzles and intense combat. The universe of this game, one filled with werewolves, demons, and even warthogs, has been given a third-dimension and Belmont has been turned into a death-dealing machine. Upgradeable skill trees, varied weapons, even magical powers – elements of the RPG and combo-based fighting games like “GoW” or “Devil May Cry” – have been brilliantly woven into a narrative that goes on for hours and features complex storytelling and Hollywood-level production values. Unlike so many games of the modern age that feel like a cash grab, “LoS” gives the gamer days of gameplay, enhanced in this collection even further by what amounts to bonus material for the excellent full film.

When “Lords of Shadow” exploded critically and commercially, becoming the best-selling “Castlevania” game, Konami quickly rushed two sequels into production, “Mirror of Fate,” released on the DS earlier this year, and “Lords of Shadow 2,” to be released in February of next year. They also pushed some DLC into the pipeline, enhancing the story of “Shadow” in ways that even the developer of the game doesn’t particularly like. Some of this material could be viewed as a cautionary tale about what not to do if you have a hit game – don’t rush the creative process. However, hardcore fans will just be happy to have it all in one place, counting the days until “Lords of Shadow 2” takes over this Winter.

Graphics & Sound

One of the strongest elements of “Lords of Shadow” was how amazing it looked on release back in 2010. It’s fascinating to play through a large portion of it again now because I was struck by the game already looking a bit dated. Graphics move so quickly that elements like water and fire look better now than they did three years ago, and will surely look even better in the sequel. However, judged by 2010 or 2013 standards, “Lords of Shadow” is a very graphically strong game, enhanced greatly by strong voice work throughout, including a contribution by the amazing Sir Patrick Stewart.

Overall

Everyone with a PS3 should play “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” before they move on to the next generation. It’s a fantastic game. Sure, the DLC was a bit rushed and the DS game may have been better off staying on the handheld, but this is a collection release designed to build buzz for the meat of the package in time for the sequel coming this February. “Lords of Shadow 2” is a game that a LOT of people are going to be talking about in three months. This set will give you the background you need to join the conversation.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.