Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 Review

It's about as uneven as they come, aggressively average even, but still an enjoyable experience.

So, I actually liked it a lot more than I expected. The overall impression of it everywhere seemed to be very negative (regardless of what you think about metacritic, 58/100 doesn't exactly inspire confidence), but I ended up liking it quite a bit.

Mist could pass.
The combat is fun, even though it sometimes feel like the enemies have too many unblockacle moves, so instead of sync blocking you are dodging maybe more than I would prefer. Still, Dracula is nimble and there are enough new moves doled out every now and then to keep things interesting all the way through. Void and Chaos powers replace the light and dark magic from the first game, but more in name than function. You still get orbs from keeping your combat focus going, in order to fill out those magic meters, and one of them is more powerful and the other one is less, but heals with every hit landed. It's essentially the same system as the first LoS, but some very minor differences. Probably the biggest difference with combat is not even directly related to combat, but it's the free camera. And they handle it well, the combat camera is smart most of the time (unlike say, the camera in MGRR), and doesn't get in the way. All the finishers take too long though, I get it, you are Dracula, but suck that blood a little faster, thanks. But overall, good stuff.

Presentation is probably the most uneven thing in the entire package. Environments and locations can be gorgeous, but they can also be fucking boring. Boring sewers and industrial plants, but also gorgeous gothic (or something) architecture and fantastic vistas. Dracula seems incredibly tiny in this world too. The grand scale of everything works well in the non-industrial setting, big majestic doors and windows etc, but in the industrial setting it just looks comical. Music is the same, Araujo does some good work with some tracks, but others are just a big meeh. I remember reading an interview from him where he says that he didn't really have a lot of freedom in the end, that he had tried to approach the music from other angles but was told that it needed to be more cinematic. Some of it works, some of it doesn't. The story is really really dumb, somewhat poorly written, but it does its job of pushing you towards your next objective.

I guess the code didn't work for him.
The worst part are the sections where they probably thought that they should add some variety in the gameplay design or something. Obviously the much talked stealth stuff is one part of that. They have absolutely no place in this game, they are just poor. But they are also really easy and short, so I'm not sure how the press was so badly hung up on them. Yes, they suck ass, but it takes like 2 minutes to go through. The elevator action section is dumb as well, again, not because it's hard or anything, but a timed switch to restore power in order to use an elevator is not fun. And I imagine the director had played Uncharted and told that we need something like that, heart pounding set pieces. The results are absolute shit. There's one section where the floor falls under you, push forward and push A for awesome. The entire train section is hot garbage, but especially the part where you dodge the roof lights or whatever. And then there's the QTE's, which you can turn off from the settings. If you played LoS, you'll probably remember that most boss fights had some easy quicktime event sequences in them, sometimes in the middle or in the end, and usually if you failed the boss would gain a little health back, rinse and repeat until you were quick and timely enough. That's still here, but if you turn them off, it will just play that whole section as if you were successful. And I very much recommend it. What does it tell you about this hot feature that they added an option to just disable them?

The game is very linear, but it has a hint of that non-linearity with all the secrets you can find. That speaks to me in some primal level and I can just get lost in the world, just running around and looking behind every corner and such to find everything. It just speaks to me man. Of course I would recommend you do this only after you get all your powers back, can't get them all without all your powers. There's also some combat challenges, and I played through couple tiers of them... but didn't bother with the rest. It gets into a little more complicated stuff than I have patience for (you can only hit this dude while he is frozen, while simultaneously killing smaller dudes every 20 seconds etc etc). For me it takes the fun out of it.

So overall, I'd say my experience with the game is positive. I paid ~20$ for it and I'd say it's worth at least that if not more.