Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 Preview

By Adam Ma on January 31, 2014, 9:23PM EDT

When it comes to Gothic horror there are few creatures are iconic as the vampire and few vampires better known than Dracula. Sometimes he stalks black and white movies, using powers of persuasion to lure beautiful women to their undeath. Often he has command of animals, can turn into bats, and moves without a sound. Popular culture associates him as the father of all vampires with domain over much of the underworld. Rarely does he use flaming gauntlets, a life draining sword and a whip made of blood in fast paced strategic combat, which one of many reasons why Lords of Shadow 2 looks like it's going to be so much fun.

Lords of Shadow 2 picks up many years after the first game, a continuation of the storyline that brought Gabriel Belmont from a righteous crusader and staunch warrior of God to a creature of the night going by the name of Dracula. Though able to defeat Satan and prevent him from entering the Heavens the cost of such a victory (and subsequent battles as shown through DLC) left Gabriel a cursed immortality. An old soul trapped in a modern era, players must yet again prepare to face the return of Satan; this time wielding the powers that made Dracula a legend.

So there's a lot of religious mumbo jumbo being tossed around here again but the reality is that LoS is more than just a really stretched Gothic fantasy featuring vague biblical references and interpretations. It's also an action-packed adventure title that's finally going to span an open world rather than follow a single linear path, hopefully also opening up a more unique storytelling experience.

The three main weapons show for LoS2 are a whip, sword and gauntlets (or Chaos Claws), and each brings a unique style of gameplay strategy in how they're used against enemies. The whip is naturally good at dealing damage at a distance and can swing wide to combo against multiple enemies. Gabriel's sword can drain life from foes upon each strike and the gauntlets can be used to break down defences; each weapon can be swapped to rather quickly which should lend for some rather strategic fast paced combat. Learning how to properly block, counter and rush in to strike is the crux of any action game and Lords of Shadow is no different; if anything the complexity of being able to work with three different weapons should have a very wide appeal.

That being said like most action titles players must slowly build up to these weapons which leaves MercurySteam with a lot of opportunity to mix in additional tools, upgradeable abilities and a little bit of dual utility for platforming elements that will no doubt worm their way into to main game. More than simply adding new attacks to each weapon it will be great to see how far the developers will take giving players control over the Dracula mythos, particularly when you consider that Castlevania aside the general fictional lore of vampires is both extensive and quite imaginative.

While we've been assured that the storyline is actually longer than the last title much of the game will be spent attempting to unlock the secret to Gabriel's castle which remains locked within his castle. New to series will also be the ability to move the camera angle, likely in response to to complaints that combat in Lords of Shadow would sometimes become frustrating due to enemies blocking line of sight.

Provided that all of the changes made to the combat system and camera are done flawlessly then Lords of Shadow 2 stands in the rare position of being a big budget release that little to worry about from angry or disappointed fans. From the adjustments made in Gabriel's combat techniques to the overall story that appears (at a glance) to be a modern day Gothic epic, it looks as though MercurySteam has done a phenomenal job setting the tone for such an incredible adventure. As the last game received some very positive critical acclaim overall it's safe to keep expectations high for the final instalment in the Lords of Shadow storyline.

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