Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Collection Review
Konami’s recently released Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Collection is an enticing package for those looking to brush up on the rebooted franchise before Lords of Shadow 2 drops in a few months. Combining the original Lords of Shadow game, its two DLCs Reverie and Ressurrection, the newly-released Mirror of Fate HD, and an exclusive demo of Lords of Shadow 2, this package is quite a bargain at $39.99. The two DLCs are priced at $9.99 each, Mirror of Fate HD is $14.99, and Lords of Shadow is still around $25 new on Amazon. If you’re looking to catch up on Gabriel Belmont’s intriguing storyline on one system, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Collection is easily the best and most affordable way to do so.
While Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Collection is a great deal for those of us who missed out on Lords of Shadow’s original release in 2010, unfortunately this is just a straight repackaging. The cover is reworked, featuring the much cooler Limited Edition painting of Gabriel rather than the bland render of the original, which is nice. But the disk literally just has Castlevania: Lords of Shadow on it – the DLCs, the demo and Mirror of Fate HD all have to be downloaded via the PSN or Xbox LIVE with an included voucher. It just seems a bit odd to me, as I would imagine that at least the PlayStation 3 version’s Blu-ray disk could easily pack everything onto the disk itself. For instance, in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, being able to select the games from a new menu system and hop in between the different games at will really boosted the presentation. It’s hard to complain too much, as the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Collection is still a solid deal, but a little bit of effort would have been greatly appreciated, especially by those of us who are running out of hard drive space as this hardware generation comes to a close.
Onto the content itself, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is a fun, very decent God of War-style action platformer with high production values. Sir Patrick Stewart narrates the events, and well-produced real-time cutscenes drive the story. The game is a reboot of the series, keeping certain elements of the franchise intact while adding new wrinkles to its format to bring in a new audience – and the project was overseen by legendary game director Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear Solid fame. Reimagining the tragic tale of the Belmont clan and their ties to Dracula, the game sees Gabriel (Robert Carlyle) and his Brotherhood of Light going up against Satan himself – played by Jason Isaacs – and attempting to resurrect his deceased wife with the power of a legendary mask. The gameplay here is very similar to God of War, with Gabriel’s Combat Cross melee combos standing in for Kratos’ Blades of Chaos. There’s also similar magic meters, quick-time events, and gigantic enemies. While Lords of Shadow may feature more lifted ideas than unique ones, at least it emulates its peer well, and the game is easily the best Castlevania title in years. The DLC, without venturing too far into spoiler territory, deals with Gabriel’s ties to the legendary Dracula.
Mirror of Fate was a great game when I reviewed it back in March, and I remember stating in my review that it would look fantastic in its inevitable HD re-release. Well here we are with Mirror of Fate HD, and the game fares quite well with its bolstered resolution. The stellar art direction and fun mix of 2D/ 3D gameplay looks great on an HDTV, and the game seems to play better as well with an actual controller. Mirror of Fate HD bridges the gap between not only LOS and its upcoming sequel, but also the new Western approach and the series’ 2D roots. It’s a very solid entry in the series, and it was a technical showcase for the Nintendo 3DS, so it holds up quite well.
The final piece of the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Collection, the Lords of Shadow 2 demo, is actually a really solid addition. The new game makes great strides over its predecessor, with gorgeous graphics, a smooth framerate, and a ton of action in the roughly half-hour demo. Gabriel has plenty of cool new powers now that he’s become Dracula, and he employs them against the legion of soldiers storming his castle. It’s a fantastic demo that does its job well – I’m definitely amped up to play this open-world sequel.
If you haven’t played through the original Lords of Shadow yet, and missed out on the great handheld entry Mirror of Fate, the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Collection is definitely a worthwhile purchase. Packing in a large amount of content alongside exclusive access to a kick-ass demo, this collection is easy to recommend.