Castlevania Lords Of Shadow 2 is the concluding chapter of the Lords Of Shadow trilogy. The game takes place one thousand years after the events of the first Lords Of Shadow with Dracula awaking from his years of slumber to find a world vastly different from what he remembers. Dracula’s former friend and mentor Zobek comes to ask for his help in stopping the return of Satan. Satan’s followers are preparing for his return and it’s up to the prince of darkness to stop them.
Gameplay – The gameplay remains largely unchanged from the first game. The biggest change comes from the powers that being the prince of darkness grant. You are now able to drink the blood of your foes to regain your own life along with two new weapons. Those weapons come in the form of the Void Sword and Chaos Gauntlets. The Void Sword has you recover health with each strike while the Chaos Gauntlets allow you to break enemy shields and armor. The platforming makes a return as well yet it’s lacking the Polish this time around and it takes a back seat. The combat is still as fun as ever and switching weapons and powers is a blast but the combat lacks a sense of impact that would help to give it a more visceral vibe. The skill system was reworked allowing you to use skills and unlock more skills by using said skills. Overall the gameplay is very similar to the first game but the new weapons and skills give the gameplay a fresh feeling whilst not ruining what made the series great.
Graphics – Graphics wise Lords Of Shadow 2 looks like a step down from it’s predecessor. Where the first game was absolutely gorgeous, with amazing vista’s and locals, Lords Of Shadows 2 features mostly bland modern day settings like factories, subways and abandoned buildings. When the game does send you back in time the graphics are allowed to shine, with gorgeous Gothic castles and statues. It’s Just a shame that you don’t spend much time in these locations. Character models look good but not great. Textures are muddy and bland with lots of grey’s and brown’s. Overall the Graphics are a step backwards from the absolutely stunning first game.
Audio – Lords Of Shadow 2 is a stunner in the sound department. The orchestral score is magnificent and really works to draw you into the world. The voice acting is once again knocked out of the park. Overall the sound in Lords Of Shadow is where a lot of the attention seemed to go, allowing you to be brought into this fantastic world.
Negatives – Lords Of Shadow 2 doesn’t really have that many negatives to speak of. The game locked up and required a reset, audio cut out on certain scenes and the game’s map is completely useless.
Verdict – Castlevania Lords Of Shadow 2 is a game that had such promise but also had a difficult challenge in bringing Castlevania into present day. Sadly the game falls short of reaching those heights. In trying to bring the game into a modern setting something was lost along the way, something that made the first game so great.
The third game in the Arkham series, Batman Arkham Origins is a prequel that attempts to tell the story of a young and inexperienced Batman. Crime boss The Black Mask places a fifty million dollar bounty on the Batman’s head. This draws eight of the world’s deadliest assassins to Gotham City, including the likes of Deathstroke, Bane, and Firefly. The story takes place over one night around Christmas time. The story is told very well. The twists and turns that the story takes kept me hooked until the very end. The eight assassins aren’t all that interesting with the exception of Bane and Deathstroke. The major plot twist is very easy to see coming and it dampens the impact of the reveal. The story overall is a fantastic Tale with great supporting characters, even with some les than interesting side characters the story is still captivating and had me hooked.
Gameplay- The Gameplay in Origins retains much of what made the past Arkham games so great. The freeflow combat, the predator stealth sections, and the amazing feeling that you are the Batman. Origins attempts to freshen up the formula by adding in new moves and requiring you to use Batman’s gadgets during combat in a more offensive capacity. One place where Origins shines is in it’s boss battles against the eight assassins. Each battle is test of the skills that you learned throughout the game, be it countering against Deathstroke or using crowd control against Copperhead. The Gameplay does however feel less polished and less smooth than the previous two Arkham games. Overall the Gameplay in Origins is still as fun as it was in the previous games yet at the same time it feels very similar while also feeling less polished.
Graphics- The graphics in Origins are an improvement over the prior Arkham games but only slightly. The world is the largest it’s ever been,yet it feels barren and lifeless. The city is covered in brown’s and grey’s covered in a snowy finish. The city very quickly begins to blend together and nothing stands out. Gotham is also empty with the exception of enemies, it is explained why this is but it still makes the world feel lifeless. Character models have gotten a significant update this time around. The lip synching however is completely off and really takes you out of the experience. The animations are once again extremely well done, helping to sell every punch and kick. Overall the graphics are very good, yet the lifeless world and bland world design really hurt the experience.
Audio- Audio wise Origins is nothing special. Roger Craig Smith does his best as the younger Batman, although he does tend to over do it in certain scenes. Troy Baker on the other absolutely knocks it out of the park as the new Joker. Baker is able to convey the sense that this Joker is the younger version of Mark Hamill’s Joker. The various other voice actors do their jobs well enough but none of them are anything special. Overall the audio in Origins is good but nothing really stands out, with the exception of the two leads.
Negatives- Origins suffers from the same thing that all series tend to suffer from after three games, that sense of similarity and not adding anything new. Fatigue sets in pretty fast in Origins, this isn’t helped by the fact that with the exception of the story Origins isn’t all that interesting. The Gameplay begins to feel boring after you’ve fought just a couple of groups of enemies. The game doesn’t do a good job at keeping the player engaged in it’s world. The horrible lip synching and the less than smooth combat do not help any.
Verdict- Batman Arkham Origin’s attempt at telling the story of a young and naive Batman is well worth experiencing, but it fails in several key areas. The game fails to add anything new to the series. Feelings of fatigue and sameness set in very early on. Origins tries it’s best to deliver a truly compelling origin story but it fails under the weight of it’s own ambition.