Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow first impressions . . .

- Don't go in expecting a Castlevania game, because you will be disappointed.  Aside from a few similarities, this is a totally different experience.
- Voice acting is fantastic, although the pre-level narration sections with Patrick Stewart seem off.  You hear Stewart narrating and you see a book with the words.  You can read it yourself far faster than he narrates, the level loads by the 2nd sentence and prompts you to press the "start button" and it comes off as kinda bland and boring.  The narration itself is great (although the script can come off as heavy-handed at times), but this would have been much more effective if done over a cut-scene, or even those little hand-drawn animation parts you see when reviewing new moves in your handbook.
- Controls are mapped well and from what I've experience combat can be pretty deep and strategic if you want it to be.  Sure you can button-mash yourself through most fights if you want, wailing on the X button while mixing in the occasional Y (360 version), but it you actually mix up your moves and take full advantage of what you have in your offensive arsenal, combat can be very satisfying and elegant.
- However, the "feel" of the controls to me are a tab bit off.  It is not that they are unresponsive, but everything feels just a tad off from the "perfect" feel that some games manage to achieve.
- The visuals so far have been pretty damn impressive.  The environments are vibrant and alive, with excellent lighting and textures.  In fact, some sections have been just absolutely beautiful to behold.
- There is a negative to this though.  The game takes a page out of the God of War book and does not let you control the camera at all.  And for some reason, this feels far more restrictive here than it has in any of the GoW games.
- Another negative is that while the environments look very impressive visually, interaction with them are extremely limited and invisible walls are all over the place, really limiting your sense of exploration.  Levels do offer branching paths, but the invisible wall syndrome really stands out.
- I've finished the first chapter and that first boss is straight out of Shadow of the Colossus.  I had read this beforehand but I really wasn't expecting it to be SUCH a blatant rip-off of that game.
- So far the game is pretty enjoyable.  The slightly off feel of the controls (maybe I am alone here) and the pretty limited interaction with the environments and lack of exploration are my biggest negatives right now.  I'm only one chapter in, so still plenty left to go.  I hear the game is actually kinda long.

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