I’ve never liked this franchise much. I’ve usually found it laughably melodramatic and repetitive. Plus it’s stuck with that ridiculous title, a holdover from its pixilated origins back in the 80′s.
But this latest entry, Lord of Shadows, is different – though it’s still got the ridiculous Castlevania name-tag. A lot of folks complained that the engine, story and themes were a dead rip-off of the fantabulous God of War series of games, and it’s all true; they are. The game-makers couldn’t even be bothered to give the Castlevania hero a different weapon–though they did put a cross on his chain-lashing-thingumbob to distinguish him from the pagan Kratos.
All the same, it’s great fun and nowhere near as dark and ugly as God of War. The puzzles are delightful. The faux medieval settings are wonderfully romantic and rich. And the monsters all look satisfyingly as if they’ve just escaped from Universal studios. The acting is especially good with Patrick Stewart doing the narration, Robert Carlyle as the hero Gabriel and the lovely Natascha McElhone as his lady love.
In keeping with the God of War feeling, Stewart keeps telling us that the story is getting very grim and edgy, but if he didn’t tell us we’d never know since–while the scenes are not acceptable for children–it’s morally all pretty black and white. My biggest complaint: someone should’ve gone through the narration to check grammar and vocabulary. In trying to make it sound elevated and portentous, they just made it sound silly and ignorant a couple of times. This game must’ve cost zillions to make, why not hire a dialogue writer who knows about arcane things like words and sentences?