Tag Archives: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

The Story Player – Revelation or Delusion?

You’re gonna need a bigger whip…

I may have come to something of a crossroads in my games playing career – and it’s all thanks to Mrs Rolling Eyeballs.

I have been fighting through “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” now for a good few months, eking out progress here and there, mostly thanks to my insistence on playing at a middling difficulty level.  The sense of frustration and failure which comes with each beat-down or flawed platform section has been palpable to the point of making me want to ditch games entirely.  With everything else that I want to do, my console gaming has taken something of a hit this year and I’ve basically been moving forward a stage or scene at a time without ever getting close to completing a level during a games session.

At that rate of progression, it would probably have taken me a year or so to finish “Castlevania: LOS” – which is not really satisfactory, is it?

That revelation, courtesy of my best half?  Leave hardcore gaming to the 12 year-old online trash talkers and the people for whom smashing difficulty levels is a badge of honour.  I like story and character more than I care for collecting every hidden feather or secret jewel in a level – so why shouldn’t I drop down my difficulty if it means getting to the end of the game?

My goodness, it’s almost as though achievements and platinum trophies in games don’t actually mean anything!

The sweet cheevos may have to wait – indefinitely, in some cases – but I might actually get to clear my backlog of titles sometime this century.  “Metro 2033” on Easy?  Yes, please, Mr Developer!  “DarkSiders” in ‘Cake Walk’ mode?  Don’t mind if I do!

I shall report back on this experiment as and when it begins to deliver tasty, tasty fruit….


Filed under Gaming, Geekery

A “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” player’s lament

What with reading, listening to tunes, seeing films and walking dogs, my leisure time no longer finds much space to fit gaming in.  Accordingly, the few titles that I do pick up are lasting me quite a while and I like to think that I’m getting some kind of value out of them.

That said, THIS dude in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is kicking my arse.


It’s never a good sign when the trailers for the sequel to the game that you’re playing are going up on games blogs and at E3 when you’re still mired in fighting the second level boss…

Even my usual technique – turn down the on screen music, affix iPod to lugs and power through the battle whilst listening to Dragonforce – is failing me.


Filed under Gaming, Geekery

“Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” – frustration, vindication and flashing blue icons…

As I’ve stated previously on this blog, whilst I love playing the new-fangled video games, my enthusiasm for them is often tempered by being bloody hopeless at them.  And yes, I have tried sucking less, thank you very much.

Some twitch-reaction gamer’s four to six hour single player game can typically take me between ten to twenty hours to finish, so I tend to take a while to catch up with titles which have long-since left the hardcore gamer conversation as they’re ever onto the next thing (the upside of my deliberation and slowness in completing games is that I feel like I get more value from gaming than somebody who plays a couple of levels and trades a game in to get the next new thing – could be delusional on my part, but I prefer my approach).

All of which is a long way round to talking about my initial experiences with MercurySteam and Kojima Productions reboot from a while back, “Castlevania: Lord of Shadows”.  I mentioned last week on the blog that I picked this up in the slow implosion of UK retailer GAME’s recent stock clearance and I’m happy to say that it’s living up to my expectations so far.

Moody. Mysterious. Mental.

The gameplay is a lovely hodge-podge of things you’ve played before, with the challenges of redesigning a classic 2D series for the 3D era met in mostly elegant and exciting ways.

The heroic weapon of choice in the series, an Indiana Jones-style bull whip, is redrawn as the Combat Cross – an in-no-way over the top, heavy-duty weapon of Him Upstairs, which can be used to help hero Gabriel Belmont climb surfaces, mete out violent death to arcane supernatural beasties and, perhaps most importantly, to pose moodily in the frequently driving rain.

Just a traveller/Walking down a lonely road/Werewolves want to eat me/But I don't want to know...

The major criticisms that I have at the outset of the game are its familiarity – look, there’s a set piece which is quite like “Shadow of the Colossus”!  Hey, there’s some art design ripped from the noggin of Benicio Del Toro! – and the locked, unyielding camera system which would try the patience of the Dalai Lama (were he the kind of reincarnated living deity who played modern third-person, action hack-and-slashers).   Not enough to stop from playing, although the difficulty spike in the first boss battle had me heading for YouTube for a walkthrough to try to figure out why I was being chucked around like a rag doll and where I was supposed to be jumping (that’s where the flashing blue icons in the title come in – you have to climb up the guy below, chip away at his health by smashing the blue icons on his body and then hang on for dear life as he tries to flick you off his body – it’s a bugger of a gig, let me tell you).

Titan up - see what I did there? No? Oh, please yourselves...

The acting – by the likes of Patrick Stewart, Robert Carlyle and Natascha McElhone – is pretty decent for a game, although the scripting and dialogue lean rather more towards ‘overwrought, fan fiction cheese’ than I might otherwise like.  I have to confess that my experience with “Castlevania” as a series is less than it perhaps could be but I have to imagine that this kind of archetype-heavy, breast-beating drama is par for the tooth-baring course.

Lots of anguished looking to heaven, wondering why Our Lord has forsaken his servants and let Evil run unchecked – you can probably guess the kind of thing.

I’m really quite enjoying, nonetheless – it’s a gorgeous game, which has characters, environments and animation to rival the leading-edge likes of the “Uncharted” series on the PS3.  The music’s quite lovely, too and the gameplay, whilst ever so bloody derivative, is still good stuff – it might be based around combat, puzzle-solving and exploration which you’ve seen executed elsewhere, but the standard of that execution is key to the success of this game.  Everything’s done so expertly and with such love for this kind of action experience that any memories which it conjures of previous titles can be set aside.

On the evidence of what I’ve seen so far, Mercury Steam are a video games developer to keep a close eye on.


Filed under Gaming, Geekery

Picking over the wreckage at Game…

As previously noted on the blog, things have not been going brilliantly at UK video games retailer Game.

And now they’ve gotten worse.  Eek!

A ‘Spring Cleaning’ promotion slashing prices across the board is widely being interpreted as a ‘fire sale’ tactic to drive up much-needed profits before the chain heads into administration – a fate which could befall the retailer by the end of the week.

As to what would happen then,  a buy-out by US giant GameStop has been mooted, but gossip has it that they are looking at  Game’s locations in Spain and Portugal.  And they’ve recently reduced their tentative presence in the UK anyway – perhaps as a precursor to swooping down on the troubled nationwide chain and getting a larger foothold in the £2.52 billion games market in the United Kingdom?

My own take on this is that it will be sad to see the back of Game were it to go the way of other retailers like Virgin, Music Zone and Fopp – it’s fun to just go into a high street store which is dedicated to the stuff that you love, to go to midnight launches for blockbuster titles and to score somehow overlooked bargains in the pre-owned section.

To do my bit for their takings, I had a wander into town to Sheffield’s city centre branch and picked up a game I’ve been meaning to buy for ages…

A mysterious bag, possibly filled with delight and wonder...

But what could it be?  A barely played copy of that Black Eyed Peas Kinect tie-in (hell to the no)?  A “Call of Duty” game that I’m going to try to persevere with (I’m through with that series, I think)?  Nope, none of those…

Huzzah! It's "Castlevania: Lords of Shadow"!

I’ve been waiting to check out this game for ages but could never find a copy, so this opportunity wasn’t to be passed up.  Why, if you’re familiar with the series, this is almost fodder for another post in my “A Season of Vamps” series.  And, if memory serves, I ended up paying less for the game than the reduced sticker price shown above, so even at this point my transaction isn’t helping out as much as it could have done.  Sorry, Game.

I’m not sure that I want to keep gaming in a future where all titles end up being downloadable to console – but it appears that this is the direction that the industry wants to go in, if  only to end the scourge of cheapskates like me buying second-hand games.  Why, I’m clearly worse than Hitler.



Filed under Gaming, Geekery