Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ultimate Edition Impressions

By Adam Ma on September 1, 2013, 9:48PM EDT

When Lords of Shadow first released it was met with a pretty broad spectrum of criticism; with compliments ranging from praise toward its visceral action while keeping the spirit of the sidescrolling originals intact, to confusion at the fixed camera angle and stray from the original 2D formula. Many incredibly picky fans resisted the jump into the extra dimension but most agree it was a great ride and much needed change of pace for the Castlevania series, which maintains being a staple of the action genre.

Fortunately for all of the PC gamers out there Konami has been kind enough to bring MercurySteam's vision of the iconic series from the consoles to the keyboard, and overall the port gets full marks for presentation.

If you've enjoyed Lords of Shadow before (including the DLC) then there's little here that will be new for you outside of the improved graphics; which may be a selling point in itself as LoS is an absolutely stunning game from both a video and audio standpoint. The narration and soundtrack alone are enough to drive the storyline, but for those who have the appropriate PC rig rich environments are a genuine thrill to experience. The fixed camera means that most encounters and exploration is meant to occur with the most cinematic viewpoint possible, ensuring that players get the most scenic shot of the surroundings although sometimes at the cost of gameplay.

Though the default controls for LoS are a bit uncomfortable a quick change of keybindings fixes this instantly, and to its credit the game handles identically to its console counterpart. If you have a controller adapter then you've got little to worry about, although no one using a keyboard should find the amount of keys necessary to smite evil overwhelming. Playing with Gabriel Belmont's cross/stake/whip combo weapon is still a fluid experience, one that increases in depth and complexity the further players progress. Anyone comfortable with action platformers should find themselves right at home, and with both DLC packs wrapped into the Ultimate Edition there's plenty of progression to be had.

In fact the Ultimate Edition fixes one major gripe with the original title just simply by having the additional DLC quests available as part of the core game. Where LoS took quite a while to finally build into the more exciting action sequences (and more interesting and dangerous enemies) having both Reverie and Resurrection right out of the box gives that needed extra bit of challenge to draw more life from the game when it finally becomes the most engaging.

Unfortunately for all of its strengths the port isn't without its weaknesses, and some of the design bugs present in the console version are still around on PC. Twice encounters became impossible when enemies refused to spawn, or glitched into a location that could not be attacked, forcing the player to restart from the last checkpoint. It was nothing as game breaking as the corrupt save state problem encountered on consoles and certainly didn't diminish the overall enjoyment of the game, but its a problem nonetheless for those looking for one.

If you enjoy the action-platforming genre and have a PC that can keep up with the minimum specs then the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ultimate Edition should be a real treat; and at the very least if you're a console fan that missed out on all the fun in the first place it's the perfect time to catch up with Lords of Shadow 2 just around the corner.

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