Castlevania yet again takes a new direction, and again, does so successfully.

User Rating: 8.5 | Castlevania: Lords of Shadow X360
STORY: The main protagonist in this game is Gabriel (who refers to himself as Gabriel Belmont, but actually isn't one. *shrug*). God is ignoring the world and evil is running rampant, and on behalf of the brotherhood he is affiliated with, he is on a quest to gain the masks of the Lords of Shadow. But that's only part of it, Gabriel's main intent to to get revenge for his dead wife, Marie.

each time you start a chapter, you'll get a narration by a character named Zobek (who is voiced by Patrick Stewart), and it's a pretty neat addition that sets the mood for the upcoming chapter. This character Zobek takes place in the story too, and follows Gabriel on his quest. There are other characters you run across that affect Gabriel as well.

Overall the story was enjoyable. There are twists here and there, which help to spice things up (though some are predictable), and it's intriguing to see how Gabriel progresses through his adventure, and how all the events affect him.

GAMEPLAY: This isn't a 2D Sidescroller castlevania, nor is it a "Metroidvania", non-linear castlevania game, Lords of Shadow decided to change things for Castlevania yet again and it is an action game. In a way, though, the genre could kinda appeal to both those who liked the 2D sidescrollers, since Lords of shadows is linear, for the most part, and those who like Metroidvanias, since there are still different paths here and there which lead to upgrades that help your character grow stronger. But whatever the case, the main focus here is action.In the end I do approve of this new direction Konami went with this game went.

This game is probably one of the longer Castlevanias there are (which is ironic considering it is linear). Playing the 360 version, the game spans two discs! So if you're lazy and don't like switching discs, either 1) get the PS3 version 2) deal with it, doesn't take that damn long anyways, sheesh...

Because Lords of shadow is an action game, there are plenty of combos, skills, and moves that can be acquired (bought with XP points) throughout the adventure. You also get subweapons (like every other Castlevania game): knives, Holy water, fairies, and a dark crystal. You also get light and shadow magic; light magic heals you with every hit dealt to ana enemy, and shadow magic increases your strength. Light and shadow magic can be combined with moves for even more combos. So as you can see, there is a large variety of attacks that can be used. Whether you use the large assortment of techniques or not though is another story. I found myself using certain handful of moves/combos the whole game, and I don't I ever used a fairy once except for when you had to use it for a certain part, and I only used a dark crystal in combat two or three times, but then again I have yet to try the harder difficulties yet, so maybe that would change.and yup, like any other Action game Lords of shadows has different difficulty settings; 4 in total. I don't recall their names, but it's basically you're typical "easy", "normal", "hard", "very hard" settings, or so I assume, anyways. I started with the "normal" setting, so perhaps playing in the two harder difficulties.

This game does have puzzles as well, alot of puzzles as a matter of fact. Some of them were clever and some were fun, but some could be annoying, like the ones that involve thechupacabra. Thechupacabra taks all your powers away and you have to try to find him while he taunts you with his extremely annoying voice. The music box chapter later in the game can also be annoying.

Another thing that makes this like other action games, is that there are plenty of huge bosses to fight. There certainly were some epic battles, and they provided some fun. One thing though is that having to hold the RT button (and whatever it is on the PS3 version) when these bosses try to shake you off can get redundant, and if you screw up while trying to climb these titans, having to reclimb everything can also be a bit of a pain at times. So these battles can be a bit annoying when you first do them and when you don't know what you are doing. A big part of these battles is pretty much remembering how these big baddies react.

But there are plenty of smaller bosses to deal with as well, that deal less with memorization and more on skill. These ones are a bit more fun.

One thing all bosses have in common though is that to finish them off, you'll have to do the dreaded QTE's (Quick-Time Events). These didn't hurt Lord of Shadows too much (most were easy), but they can still be a minor nuisance. I should be able to view Gabriel kicking some undead/monster ass or Gabriel yoinking away an enemy's weapon to use it against them in peace without having to worry about some random QTE to ruin the whole battle and possibly get a game over.

The controls work well for the most part. using X for direct attacks and Y for area attacks works well for combos. One thing that can be an issue, however, is the camera. The camera cannot be controlled and is always in a set position. This can lead to issues in combat at times, and can be frustrating if you get cornered.

There is plenty of content to give you motivation to play this game more. There is extra content like artwork you can purchase, there are different difficulties as I have already said, and upgrades that can be collected throughout the game. It's not as extensive as Bayonetta, but it gets the job done.

While this game strayed from the usual Castlevania formula(s), It was still an enjoyable adventure. Did it feel like a Castlevania? It did, somewhat. This game was certainly different, but at the same time, so was Symphony of the Night when it was first released, and I'd call that a Castlevania, as well as all the other Metroidvanias. There's also plenty of references to past castlevanias, whether it be from weapons or enemies. And the game still has that same Gothic feel. For all we know we may see plenty of other action-y Castlevania games. It will be interesting to see, for sure.

PRESENTATION: The graphics in this game are stunning. The different settings that can be seen are all a beautiful sight, and they settings are varied. The music provides an ambient feel, and is quite good, as Castlevania music usually is. Overall top-notch presentation.

OVERALL: Konami took a new path with Castlevania into the action genre, and while there were some flaws, it was still a pretty good journey, with great production values to boot!