Review

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ultimate Edition Review

  • Game release: October 5, 2010
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

What is a "Castlevania?"

With a sequel on the market and another in production, 2010's Castlevania: Lords of Shadow isn't exactly fresh, yet the slick visuals of the upgraded PC port might fool a few newcomers. The technical bump and the Reverie and Resurrection downloadable chapters make this the best version of Lords of Shadow to date, and while the same highs and lows of the console version persist, the finishing touches found here provide enough of an incentive for a second look, especially if you never experienced the DLC chapters the first time around.

You are Gabriel Belmont, a warrior in the Brotherhood of Light whose wife, Marie, was recently killed by dark forces that have engulfed the land. It's your sworn duty to defeat the three Lords of Shadow in an effort to restore peace, but it's your personal mission to revive Marie by re-creating the God Mask from the lords' fragments. Your journey takes you through lush forests, over craggy mountains, and inside the walls of sinister castles, before finally crossing into the realm of the dead. Developer Mercury Steam has rewritten the origin story of the Belmont clan's long-standing battle against Dracula with sweeping changes to the existing lore, but thankfully, their new take works well; it just takes the entire game and a few headaches to get to the best parts.

Gabriel's adventure is linear and action-packed, and is dotted with bits of platforming and puzzle-solving. God of War veterans will recognize familiar patterns in its combo-heavy fighting system, and Shadow of the Colossus players will identify with the giant-scaling duties during the monumental Titan battles. If you're hoping to explore a sprawling map in search of secrets and long-lost treasure, as in the past, this isn't the game you're looking for; Lords of Shadow stands out from the rest of the series, even against previous 3D entries, such as Lament of Innocence and Castlevania 64. The narrative is more ambitious, the combat hits harder, and platforming incorporates high-wire acrobatics to great effect.

The Castlevania series is known for its soundtracks, among other things, and Lords of Shadow doesn't disappoint. While there aren't catchy, memorable tunes on hand, the orchestrated soundtrack strikes a pleasing balance between foreboding and subtle tracks. Outside of the single battle theme that rears its head time and time again, the entire experience is a stream of new and exciting sounds. One puzzle features an interesting take on a classic track from Super Castlevania IV, that should be immediately recognizable to Castlevania vets.

Like the first PlayStation 2 entry, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, Lords of Shadow uses a fixed camera, which is both a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, it allows for awe-inspiring views of captivating environments, of which there are many, granting you a powerful sense of scale on a near-constant basis. The added power of PC hardware enhances these moments with increased draw distances, anti-aliasing, and significantly higher-resolution textures, with gameplay humming along at 60 frames per second at 1920x1080. These improvements are a practically a given with the scalable nature of PC hardware, but it makes such a big difference in Lords of Shadow. The console version suffered from below-average frame rates and woefully compressed textures, so it's great to see the game rendered in a way that does justice to the top-notch art direction on display.

Unfortunately, the fixed camera has a negative impact on gameplay. Quite often, you're presented with a narrow view of your environment, and it's easy for enemies to slip out of frame. Then there are scenes where the camera is pulled way back, and it's almost impossible to discern your opponents' actions. Though these issues persist throughout the game, the core combat is an enjoyable rendition of the sort of fighting found in God of War. Gabriel's initial selection of direct and wide-area attacks blossoms into a portfolio of high-flying, cross-cracking maneuvers that can easily be strung together, allowing you to hit enemies from nearly every angle. Though you can hack and slash your way through most enemies, they all have a weakness, and learning how to exploit their vulnerabilities makes combat a much more rewarding experience than relying on brute force alone.

A prime example of the powerful cinematography at work in Lords of Shadow.

One maneuver never goes out of style: parrying. If you block an attack just before impact, your opponent is momentarily stunned, leaving a brief window for you to execute powerful blows that can turn the tide of battle. Perfecting your abilities and besting your enemies feels great, but unfortunately, the satisfaction of executing a finishing blow is often wrenched away from you because quick-time events punctuate every major battle. Lords of Shadow often treats boss fights like a relay; put in your share of the effort, and the director carries the baton across the finish line. Granted, you press a button or two during these extended executions, but seeing your abilities distilled down to a well-timed button press during a minute long cutscene is deflating.

Outside of combat, you spend a lot time traversing cliff faces and scaling castle walls. These sections provide a nice respite from the heat of combat, with light platforming and beautiful vistas aplenty. Here, Gabriel moves about at dizzying heights, hanging from ledges, and grappling and swinging to and fro with his combat cross. The same tactics apply to face-offs with Titans, which are giant bosses that are stages in and of themselves. You scale these large creatures while searching for and destroying their weak spots as you go. They move slowly and pack a punch when Gabriel is on the ground, but there's one airborne Titan towards the end of the game that's pure platforming, and the most exciting of the lot. Apart from a few perilous moments, the biggest challenge you face is determining in which direction to move, but don't worry, because the game consistently highlights any object of interest.

In fact, the game presents many solutions to you, even obvious ones, again and again. Simple lessons learned early on are repeatedly emphasized through text and extended close-ups, hours into your adventure. Where platforming is concerned, the over-the-top tasks at hand--relative to Gabriel's abilities--call for such hints; you wouldn't recognize a grapple point looming 30 feet overhead otherwise. But there comes a point during the game when the helpfulness outside of these sections feels intrusive on the experience and borderline insulting to your comprehension. Puzzles aren't even taken seriously; if you're having a hard time solving them, you can spend skill points to bypass the challenge completely.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Ultimate Edition is an enjoyable action game filled with epic moments, but it's also held back by myriad issues, such as the restrictive camera, unnecessary quick-time events, and relentless in-game hints. It has the makings of a classic, with an epic soundtrack and top notch visuals, thanks in no small part to the PC upgrades. If you can look past the faults that do exist, you'll find a pleasing mix of hard hitting combat and imaginative, if easy, platforming. It's not the Castlevania most people know, but it's a good start for the next chapter in the series.

The Good
Outstanding art direction and cinematography
Epic orchestrated soundtrack
Great boss fights
The Bad
A troublesome fixed camera
Superfluous quick-time events
Excessive and intrusive hand-holding
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

About the Author

Castlevania's been a favorite series of Peter's since the Nintendo Entertainment System, starting with Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse.

Discussion

110 comments
Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

This game deserves stoning for ruining Castlevania while being a compilation of ripped-off game elements, done worse. It's like they selected a bunch of popular games to rip-off but then even failed at the ripping-off part.

mekoid
mekoid

im a fan of castlevania for a very long time, but i hate the DLC so much, especially the lava part, painful and boring. Beside it's more like DMC's castlevania version than The Castlevania we know.

juliano001
juliano001

Are you kidding me ? This game is simply awesome. For me it clearly deserves a 9. I started playing it a week ago, and i cant move my eyes from the screen. The visuals are stunning and the boss fights a delight.

edinko
edinko

I quit after about 5 hours. The camera gave me motion sickness like low FOV. Its unplayable and sickening. Other than that its quite OK but it doesnt feel like Castlevania. ANd its awfully padded. For each nice 5 minutes of good game there is 1 hour of total boredom

furrynic
furrynic

The PC version is suppose to be the best of the 3 versions, so how exactly did the Pc version end up getting a worst review score than the other 2 versions? Gamespot you awful. I don't have the console versions, so I'm definitely getting the PC version.

ylyap
ylyap

So basically every hack & slash game is a clone of God of War? I personally find that LOS is better than GOW in many aspect. GOW is so overrated.

Sebritoh
Sebritoh

Give it time eventually it may be better than the 1st one,it might show some detail before Gabriel had killed His Maria when he was possessed

Srdjann
Srdjann

I'm sick of people complaining about games being unplayable with mouse and keyboard. Buy the goddamn gamepad if you like playing action video games! There are pretty cheap ones which can be used with some sort of xbox gampad emulator (since most games insist on using xbox controllers). Keyboard and mouse are great for shooters, but for games like DMC, Darksiders, Batman and Castlevania gamepad is better and a must have.

As for Castlevania, I really enjoy playing it. Annoyance of the camera is overshadowed by great story, atmosphere and action. It's just what I would expect from Castlevania game. Very well designed beautiful levels (especialy vampire castle, both inside and outside). I'm big Castlevania fan and now I'm really happy it came on PC. Can't wait for LoS 2. 

I might get too far with it, but I would even put it in front of DMC and Darksiders anytime. Far better atmosphere and story.

Pseehaw
Pseehaw

It's great to have this type of games on PC. Btw, great game. 

Xatsuna
Xatsuna

The reason this got 7.0 is because it does not have mouse support like the new Devil May Cry. And there is a part of a puzzle where it is damn impossible to do with a keyboard. 

Playing this game until the puzzle part and you need a controller or else you are stucked at the puzzle part. 


And also the second titan cannot be beaten with a keyboard because you cant rotate the rock with keyboard.


And the last boss cannot be beaten with a keyboard either. You need a controller on the last boss or else you are screwed. You be stuck at last boss forever.

swedensior
swedensior

Score is fair... The game is three years old and GS don't give half points any more... 

TheKrustaceox
TheKrustaceox

Better Graphics, Better sound, Better framerate, Better lenght, DLC's...better everything.

"I'm gonna give it a lower score than the console version"

Where the hell is that Greg Kasavin guy who makes all the decent reviews?

mbrac1
mbrac1

I was thinking the same thing as everybody, the site should pay more atention to those details, if it is a better version than the consoles, it cant get a lower score.

ilovelctr
ilovelctr

Personally I gave a 8.5 to this game for its grand landscape and huge boss fights, among other enjoyable elements such as well-sequenced platforming bla bla... A 7.0 is quite low, and I think at least it deserves a 7.5, which makes it on par with the console version. Although you can argue that it does not provide DX11 graphics or tailored kb/m control scheme (sure most PC ports today get far better control than console version due to well-mapped key positions and sensitiveness of mouse; refer to the new Tomb Raider if you don't know what I mean), this version no doubt is much better than the console one and it runs really smooth, even on low-end PCs.

No_SuRReNDeR
No_SuRReNDeR

UMMMMM>>>> let me check my math here ... ITs CHEAPER  has MORE CONTENT, BETTER FRAME RATES, BETTER RESOLUTIONS> LOOKS BETTER ...EVEN SOUNDS BETTER...

Gamespot logic... We should subtract .5 from the score compared to consoles because its old???? WTF!!!!!! NEWSFLASH Gamespot in 3 years console game graphics  HAVENT IMPROVED so How the ???? do you justify a lower score?

kwastormayt
kwastormayt

gone home 9,5 and this 7.. ridiculous

AzatiS
AzatiS

"" The Ultimate Edition of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow breathes new life into the three-year-old game through improved graphics and extra content. ""

Port from consoles to PC with the above statement = 7.0


Then Diablo 3 from PC to consoles , which is a fuking mess.. scored 8.5 metacritic and 8.0 GS.

With no new content , no upgraded graphics or any fancy things. Not even online economy. Just a single player experience with the addition of offline mode and dodge mechanic...


Good damn job once again with review. You just dont make sense anymore , i think ill pass GS for a while.

ferna1234
ferna1234

this game is boring as boring can get. Its a shame because they could have done wonders with the engine.

Fandango_Letho
Fandango_Letho

Peter Brown,

Why is this version worst than its console counterpart, when it's cheaper, better looking, more content, constant framerate and nearly instant loading times?

gamingnerd121
gamingnerd121

It's impressive that the PC version manages to score less than the console.

tafusoy
tafusoy

when do we get another free roaming adventure castlevania title a la simon's quest and symphony of the night?

Veteran1985
Veteran1985

I think I'll comment one more time. This game/port for the PC was not a mistake, but rather a lack of incite. It was possible to enable a mouse/keyboard and still play. If people want to be dictated as to what they can and can't do, then buy a console. I prefer the freedom to explore and better my system. I've heard some say that 3rd person shooters are harder on a keyboard/mouse than a controller. I've never had a single problem with using a mouse/kb. The new PS4/Xbox One have a GPU=HD7850(that's a matter of 100's of people's opinions/experts..look it up.. WTF? Not impressed. But if people rather be brain dead and not think, buy a console. Support your major corporations like the fools you are. Does anyone also see that the xbox360/Ps3 prices have not droped much over the years? They're sucking you dry with games/system. PC parts drop every day as do the games. One last thing. I've played castle on the NES/SNES and loved the games. That was years ago. That's all I'm saying. Not mad at anyone, and happy gaming people :)

Kickable
Kickable

@juliano001 review agrees with those things as shown above but understandably it won't offset the bad.

eLite0101
eLite0101

There is not even need for any pad emulator, just simple cheap usb x360 controller that is immediately recognized both in OS and in all games automatically. Thats how I play at least ^_`

thorn3000
thorn3000

@Srdjann I am sick of people telling me to buy gamepads, convince the damn devs to make a proper job inputting keyboard controls when making ports...pc master race does not need console controllers

korvus
korvus

@Xatsuna Just beat the entire game using nothing but keyboard. You just have to be quick with your fingers.


The only trouble I had was with the puzzle since it will not register the diagonal dash (I'm assuming that's the one you're referring to). Just temporarily remap your block key from "I" to "M" and you can do it no problem. Annoying, but at least it works.

syllvanas01
syllvanas01

@TheKrustaceox 

you mean who MADE all the "decent" reviews.

that guy STARTED making good reviews when he first appeared, but his reviews eventually were starting to go downwards just before he left gamespot.

read his review of legacy of kain: defiance and see that for yourself. that "review" of his was sooo slanderously unfair that LOK's fans did not forgive him for it to this day...

Setsuna00
Setsuna00

@TheKrustaceox He's making his own games now, ever heard of Bastion? He was the writer and creative director for that game.

hahamanin
hahamanin

@ilovelctr dont think i would ever want to play this game with keyboard/mouse doesnt feel right....though glad it finally released on pc

eclypticz
eclypticz

@ferna1234 I hear ya, homie g funk. This was so boring I punched my wife for watching me play too long. Had to knock some sense into her ya know? This game was as boring as Darksiders, God of War, Super Metroid, Super Castlevania 4, Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Gradius, Dead Space 1 and 2, Call of Duty, etc... Its not nearly as nail-biting, on the edge of your seat, dying inside with overloading entertainment as say, a game like Demon Souls or Magic the Gathering, is it? Pffffftttttt!!! I humbly disagree with your opinion and you and I seem to have different taste in video game preference. Good day, sir! Good day.

EquilibriumEos
EquilibriumEos

@ferna1234 In your opinion. I and others think it's a brilliant game. I'd admit the first two chapters weren't anything great but maybe you should give it another go as all the other chapters increase in terms of enjoyability and story.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@Fandango_Letho Cheaper because it's old, better looking and performing because it's on the PC and should offer more than 7yr old hardware, and has more content because it includes the DLC. Other than that, the game adds nothing to depth nor does it correct some of the annoyances with the console version.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@gamingnerd121 Because it's on the PC and is not restricted to improvements which never happened.

EquilibriumEos
EquilibriumEos

@Veteran1985 Who's not thinking? I brought and 360 a few years ago for £200 and I've got hundreds of hours out of exclusives on it. You're probably supporting M$ anyway by purchasing Windows or Window-based computers. The fact is is that everyone is supporting some major co-operation one way or another but since I'm buying games for around £20 from third party sellers on Amazon.co.uk I don't see how I'm supporting M$ because I brought their computer a few years back for the exclusives and multiplatform AAA titles.

I'd missed out on Dark Souls and Dragon's Dogma if I had simply stuck to PC and while Dark Souls is now on PC, it's a poor port.

Rheinmetal
Rheinmetal

@thorn3000 @Srdjann Some games are impossible to be played with keyboard & mouse. End of discussion.  With all respect, I say too: go and buy the goddamn gamepad. If you can't play certain games with the keyboard it's not the devs' fault, it's your stubborness most likely.

Xatsuna
Xatsuna

I really like Devil May Cry alot better. That game had awesome keyboard and mouse support. I hope Castlevania 2 has keyboard and mouse support too. Or else I just have to use my PS3 controller again.

Xatsuna
Xatsuna

@Korvus85 @Xatsuna Got tired of the keyboard since it took so long. It took me 5 hours to solve the puzzle with the keyboard. After that I decided to plug in my playstation 3 controller and everything was fine after that.

eLite0101
eLite0101

Good to know thanks, I was asking myself same.

pelvist
pelvist

@Snaptrap "The technical bump and the Reverie and Resurrection downloadable chapters make this the best version of Lords of Shadow to date" - First paragraph of this review. If its better on PC how did it manage to score less?

AzatiS
AzatiS

@Snaptrap 

Stop with the excuses please... wtf.

"" The Ultimate Edition of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow breathes new life into the three-year-old game through improved graphics and extra content. ""


Nuff said. You getting exactly the same experience as console version with better graphics because of PC hardware AND all the new content for free in a cheap price.


This idiocy about porting needs to stop. When games like Diablo 3 ports to consoles without ANYTHING new , just a few modifications which are not even in gameplay related then .. " AMAZING GAME " ... 


Pathetic

SipahSalar
SipahSalar

@EquilibriumEos @Veteran1985  Dark souls is not a poor port but an extremely poor port if you dont have a controller. If you have a controller, its one of the best ports in gaming history.

eclypticz
eclypticz

@EquilibriumEos Dude- did you not know Xbox is made by MICROSOFT?!

korvus
korvus

@Xatsuna Yeah, I hear you. There were even a couple of puzzles that still have the xbox buttons displayed. My biggest gripe with the game was the awkward camera...felt like I was playing Resident Evil 2 all over again. At least with Resident Evil you didn't have to do diagonal platforming with the camera changing mid-jump and inverting your jump direction...

pelvist
pelvist

@Snaptrap Really? So all those HD remakes that keep getting "re"-reviewed shouldnt be scoring in the region of 8-9 then since some are over 10 years old.

None of those ever  get down-scored for being old though...

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@pelvist Probably because it's older and no longer has the same impact it did in 2010.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

@AzatiS Who's to say the content is free when the game is 3yrs old and selling for $30? The content isn't new. It's just included DLC that was previously released.

As for the graphics, they're not much better. Some pseudo AA, ambient, and anisotropic effects which are pretty standard for PC's. Locked camera that sometimes obscures your point of direction and a sloppy UI loaded with unnecessary animations that slow response time. I have to wait for this book to open before I can make my selection. The number of cut scenes is also unnecessary. Those might not have been a problem had they allowed the player to skip them by pressing the start button without having to make an animated sub selection. They should've named the game "CutsceneMania". Finally there are points where the voices become aggravating after repeated lines when you're trying to focus on the tasks. The girl and the old woman stand out. It had a good story, but since it borrows heavily from another game without doing anything new and being overdrawn with repetitious levels, I gave the game a 6.5. Had I not been a fan of the classic NES and SNES games, it probably would've been half that.

Btw, Blizzard is a lazy ass developer that should be making games for console rather than PC. Unworthy titles.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Castlevania: Lords of Shadow takes place at the end of days.
    8.4
    Average User RatingOut of 3419 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
    Developed by:
    Mercury Steam
    Published by:
    Konami
    Genres:
    3D, Open-World, Adventure, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Nudity, Violence