Castlevania is one of modern gaming's oldest series, stretching back to 1986. Keeping a beloved series relevant and appealing often requires a drastic overhaul, which is why Castlevania rebooted itself with "Lords of Shadow" for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2010. Now, the story continues in "Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2," which both respects the long-running series and plays havoc with its storyline.
Game developer Konami showed off an extensive demo of "Lords of Shadow 2" at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles. Like the first "Lords of Shadow," the demo focused on Gabriel Belmont, a medieval European nobleman who set out to save his wife from the forces of darkness.
Warning: Spoilers begin here…
Unfortunately, Gabriel failed. After a brief bout with Satan, Gabriel allowed himself to become a vampire in order to defeat a powerful demon called The Forgotten One. Years later, Gabriel became Dracula, the powerful vampire lord who opposed the Belmont clan in the pre-reboot "Castlevania" series.
Instead of simply writing Gabriel off and sending a Belmont descendant to destroy him, though, "Lords of Shadow 2" takes an unorthodox route by casting the player as Dracula. In this installment, Gabriel stands against the Catholic Church, drinks the blood of his enemies and corrupts holy powers to serve his own ends.
TechNewsDaily had a chance to try "Lords of Shadow 2" in a hands-on demo. The story began in Dracula's throne room, hundreds of years after the end of the original game. European soldiers in early Renaissance armor laid siege to the castle and left Gabriel with no choice but to fight them off.
Like the first game, "Lords of Shadow 2" focuses mostly on combat. Gabriel can fight off enemies with his combat cross (a set of chains that can tackle multiple enemies at a distance or just one at close-range), his Light Sword (which restores health as he damages enemies) or his Chaos Claw (which breaks enemies' shields).
The demo showed off Gabriel's fighting prowess as well as his acrobatics. After defeating a number of soldiers, Gabriel had to contend with both a giant robot made of wood and powered by steam, and a winged Catholic holy warrior in gleaming golden armor. In order to evade the warrior's deadly blow, Gabriel had to jump from platform to perilous platform, disabling the robot as he went. [See also: 5 Curiously Specific Robots ]
As demos go, "Lords of Shadow 2" was quite good, as it highlighted all of the game's major selling points: brutal combat, rapid gymnastics and grotesque enemies. Even more impressive, though, is that the "Lords of Shadow" series has captured the nature of a good reboot elegantly.
Instead of simply retelling the same story as " Castlevania " from 1986 with modern technology, Konami developed a brand new main character and turned the whole series on its head by making a Belmont into the very antagonist the Belmonts hunted. Even after Gabriel's transformation, Konami kept him as the main character, forcing players to confront the classic story from an entirely different perspective.
By making Dracula the protagonist of its latest "Castlevania" game, Konami has shown a commitment to Gabriel Belmont's character arc, as well as respect for its players. A black-and-white, good-versus-evil narrative from 1986 no longer has much of value to say in the current gaming sphere. By turning a classic story on its head, Konami breathed life into a series that hadn't seen much innovation in over a decade.
"Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2" will debut this winter for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Even if it doesn't make you sympathize with a soulless vampire, the game can at least show you that being the undead lord of evil has some enjoyable perks.
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