Let Me Put My Suggestions In You: Castlevania Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate HD
Oh my! What is this? Is it a round of suggestions from everyone’s favorite conjuror of the noxious dead? Why yes it is! It’s actually been a while hasn’t it? I apologize to all of my faithful readers as I know I have been slightly slacking in terms of bringing you all what you crave, but sometimes we all need a short break to refuel the necromantic energies that keep our rotting corpses moving. Anyways, over the past few days, I have been treated to a serious portion of turkey and mayhem, and in the downtime between vomiting up copious amounts of tryptophan and good feelings, I found a few opportunities to get down on some sweet, sweet Castlevania. My whip is strong!
So for those of you who are not aware, though you should be, Castlevania is my shit. I fucking love it. Now granted, I got into it at a bit of a late age, right around the life cycle of the GBA, which was my first taste of this bloodletting franchise. Since then, I have gobbled up nearly every title in the Castlevania library, barring a few examples of ones that are either too hard to acquire, or just haven’t gotten to yet, so I am pretty experienced at this point with the Belmonts and that old rascal Dracula. If you haven’t checked out my Belmont Exclusion piece on why they should be ruling the Smash Bros world, you should check that out as well. Console versions of Castlevania have not fared too well over the years, except for the older systems, so when they announced Lords of Shadow for the Xbox360 and PS3, needless to say, I was slightly apprehensive. I borrowed it from a friend however, and fired that badboy up a while after it was released. To be honest, it really was not that bad, in fact, it was pretty good. Not up to the standards of the phenomenal GBA and DS titles, but still good. There is a fine art involved in crafting those realms, and in my mind, it’s a difficult thing to move onto a different platform after perfecting it on one. Needless to say, it plays more like Devil May Cry than anything else, but it was still enjoyable.
Now, the reason I told you about Lords of Shadow is because this title, Mirror of Fate, is a sequel of sorts to its console brother, and came out on the 3DS earlier this year before being rereleased on the arcade section of the 360. When I read that it was being released, I bought that shit up immediately…well immediately after finishing Bioshock:Burial at Sea, which was awesome yet painfully short, more on that at another time. Mirror of Fate throws you into the shoes of 3 different major Castlevania characters. You get a chance to play as Simon Belmont (Yes!) Alucard( Fuck YES!!) and Trevor Belmont( BLAAAARGGGGSSSTHISISAWESOME!!!) To say I had a vampiric boner would be to say things politely, but if we’re being honest here, you could have conquered armies with the bludgeoning power of my nether-whip at this point. I needed to hook it up to batteries just to keep my heart from failing. So I downloaded this game at $15 for the full version, which isn’t too bad when you think about it. Id shell out more for a Castlevania game, but I was not going to tell them that. The game is split into 3 acts, one focusing on Simon, one on Alucard, and one on Trevor set in the past. I didn’t do much research before buying it, because I was too excited, and wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I started playing. When the game fired up and thrust me into a side scrolling level of bliss that I haven’t felt since playing Super Castlevania on my Retron, I immediately knew I made a good decision, or so I thought…..
Just kidding, the game is pretty awesome. Now it is not to say that it is the best version of the franchise, because it most certainly isn’t, mainly due to some glaring faults, but nothing comes close to making you hate this game…..except those goddamn sword welding dicks that float. I wish I could remember their names, as they are not medusa heads, so I could fucking curse their names and children…if they had any. The game is side scrolling, much to my delight, but it is a more modern approach to it. Smooth graphics for the most part, which when I think about it really doesn’t make a difference to me as I am a gameplay sort of person, but I know there are some of you out there who dig graphics, which is cool with me. They look good with not too many hiccups considering this is a port of a handheld game, and render the characters and environments rather nicely. This is also a sort of hybrid of the GBA games and the older school titles, and even a bit of Order of Ecclesia built in, wherein it is a standard Castlevania title where certain areas won’t open up until you have the correct power up, but things are also broken into levels rather. It is a big overarching castle and map, but it is split up a bit. You’ll know once you see it. The plot follows the Lords of Shadow canon, and has you going after Gabriel Belmont, who after going through some shit in Lords of Shadow, has become Dracula, and all of the original canon goes somewhat out the window. This also puts a darker and more horrible turn as the Belmonts are essentially hunting their own, and it gives some more credence to the hatred Dracula has to the Belmont clan, as he used to be the main Belmont for the most part. I always told him that listening to too much emo would drive him crazy.
You are tasked with taking him down and ending his terror once and for all, but since this is a Castlevania game, not everything is going to end the way you think. There are going to be some twists and turns, and there is one revelation that may have some older fans either giving the series a giant middle finger, or feeling that much more sorry for once specific character, who I will not name, as it is a HUGE spoiler. Trust me, when it is first mentioned, you will sit in your chair and breathe the word “ no” because you know what is coming, and you don’t want it to happen, but you know it must, as that is the way things are. I really enjoyed how they wove the two acts together when playing as Simon and Alucard, and although they have a nearly exact move set, barring special moves, they play very well and their story sequences tie into each other in some pretty awesome ways. It’s nice to see things go one way, and then see the other half of that sequence from the other characters point of view.
In terms of gameplay, the game plays much like an action game, but on a 2d plane. You whip, jump, cast magic, kill enemies and collect abilities to use throughout the adventure. The only bad thing I could really say about this aspect is that once you get familiar with a character, and then finally start to feel at home, they switch to the next guy, and you cannot play as the former character anymore. I can understand why they did that, but it kind of happens in a rather abrupt way. The combat is very well done, although some of the monsters can be a little cheap. You also don’t get too many creatures to kill like in previous titles, but when you do encounter one or two or fucking 3 if you are unlucky, they will beat the shit out of you if you aren’t careful. You can’t just sit in front of these guys and whip till you’re tired, because they will kill you using unblockable attacks. Not to say that you are useless though, as you definitely are not. Like previously mentioned, your whip, magic and abilities will help you on your journey, just don’t think that you will be making short work of anyone though. You can trust me on that one. Boss fights are pretty good for the most part, however some of them can be cheap and lackluster. Alucard’s one boss fight was pretty epic, however I felt like an idiot at the end of it for not knowing how to beat him until the last try. Also, it seems like Alucard is the only one who gets proper puzzle segments. This however, I can understand because Simon doesn’t really seem the type to get into puzzles, as he is strictly the combat type of man. Not to say he is dumb, but play the game and you’ll realize he is more in line with athletic prowess than anything else, and we love you for it Simon. There are also a few instances of the game feeling slightly easy in terms of platforming and ability usage, but you can understand for the most part. Also gone are those familiar save points, but we can live with it.
Overall, I would have to say the game is way better than I thought it was going to be, but it still has its issues. Personally, I would say buy it, play it, and then form your own opinion on this one. There are a lot of times when a game just simply is up to the eye of the beholder, and this is one of them. I have been thoroughly enjoying it, and it won’t cost you too much to get it, just some disc space on your hard drive. If you like Castlevania, you will enjoy this. If not, then give it a try anyways. Who knows? It may be your gateway drug into more Castlevania titles? Lord knows the GBA games were mine, and it spawned a love affair that will go on through the ages.
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