‘Castlevania’ offers dark themesWritten by Michael Siebenaler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Start up some Halloween scares on the PlayStation 3 as the “Castlevania” game series continues with “Lords of Shadow,” featuring first-class voice talents, interactive visuals and even a Facebook feature. This dark-themed one-player adventure features the Brotherhood of Light’s battle against the evil supernatural. Gabriel Belmont, voiced by Robert Carlyle, leads the charge as Patrick Stewart voices Zobek and provides great narration. Natascha McElhone (“The Truman Show”) voices Marie Belmont while Jason Isaacs voices the ultimate villain. The antagonistic Lords of Shadow (Necromancer, Vampire and Werewolf) provide familiar scenarios as the game draws on general Castlevania characters and references.
The story engages and the graphics impress. Players can always skip cutscenes to reduce the double-digit hour conquer time, but these amazing cinematics should not be missed. The highly interactive environments enhance the expanded movement capabilities like climbing, swinging, and special powers. Dodges, aerial battle options, wide attacks and dagger throws help players manage the challenging enemy waves. The puzzles, unlockables and item discoveries provide additional story details.
Gather items, buy special moves, gain experience points, perform button combinations or recover health — these familiar actions represent basic level action that game developers used as a good foundation. Game developers present easy navigation through the world map and travel book, which provides hints and records player progress. Glowing indicators prompt available interactions.
The right analog stick is not used for camera navigation so players do not have to stop and scan high-level areas for items. This simplifies the controls and keeps players from getting stuck in a view mode while being attacked though replenishing health at nearby fonts still causes issues. Other complementary characters occasionally get into battles and can be welcome distractions when battling large foes since developers wisely kept the “friendly fire” damage off.
Complete stage exploration or additional difficulties (squire, warrior, knight or the unlockable paladin) provide higher challenges for more experienced players. The subtitles and original musical score by Oscar Araujo enhance this great installment. (***, rated M for blood, gore, nudity and violence, also on Xbox 360 — limited editions on both consoles also available).