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Done with Dead Rising 2 and a Castlevania query

Brad Gallaway's picture

Dead Rising 2 Screenshot

Finished up my play of Dead Rising 2 tonight. I'm contemplating doing a review, but still undecided. I guess I'll sleep on it and see how much effort I want to put out in the morning.

After rolling credits for both the main campaign and the Overtime mode that comes after (and really, that's not a spoiler... they did the exact same thing in Dead Rising) my thoughts about the game are basically the same—it's a note-for-note reproduction of the original with a much gentler difficulty curve and a create-a-weapon mechanic that doesn't feel like a good fit for the schedule-oriented structure of play.

If I had never played the first game I suppose I would have been much more entertained by Dead Rising 2 since I wouldn't be so aware of how badly it was recycled.  Seriously, there were only two or three brief segments overall that I thought were fairly inspired, although I admit that the story was sufficient to keep me moving forward. New protag Chuck Greene is definitely okay in my book, though I have to say that I still prefer original hero Frank West by a large margin.

While I certainly appreciate how much easier Dead Rising 2 is (got the S-Rank ending with very little effort) I think I preferred the original in just about every other way. Better main character, better story, and although it felt vaguely broken in a few places, it was fresh and original at the time. This new iteration isn't bad, but it just doesn't have that spark… all the I's were dotted and all the T's crossed, but I'm still kind of struggling to figure out what it was really supposed to bring to the table.

All things considered, I'd say that I had a much better experience with the prologue DLC Dead Rising: Case Zero than I did with the full game offered in Dead Rising 2. The setting of Zero didn't feel like another mall, the area was much smaller and more compact, and I liked that a perfect run could be done in two hours or so, provided that the player did a few practice restarts beforehand. It was fresh, tidy, and got right to the point. The $5 price tag didn't hurt, either.

I'm still looking forward to the epilogue DLC titled Dead Rising: Case West for sure, but if Capcom was to greenlight a new Dead Rising 3, I'd say that they would have to retool the thing from top to bottom, re-think the structure completely and fix all of the issues before it would get my attention. If they go for just another minor-upgrade iteration like this one was, I'll pass.

Prior to starting Dead Rising 2, I put about two hours into Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Those first few hours didn't leave a very good taste in my mouth, and I postponed it for the time being. However, my wife decided to give it a go, and she's pretty far into the adventure. I've been peeking over her shoulder and keeping tabs on the game, and although there are certain things about it that intrigue me, I see quite a bit that turns me off. As for her, she's plowing ahead like a trooper but has little good to say about it.

To those players who have already been through the game, I would love to get your opinions on it, whether you liked it or you didn't. Tell me what makes it good, or where it went wrong. The two schools of thought on the title appear to have a fairly large gulf between them, and if you've got an opinion, I want to hear it.

I wanna know!

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   PS3  
Developer(s): Kojima Productions   Blue Castle   MercurySteam  
Series: Castlevania   Dead Rising  
Genre(s): Adventure/Explore   Horror  

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

For me, the big draw to me was the world the developers had created. I really got into reading the notes from the Order Members and Patrick Stewart's narration, and the game's environments have great atmosphere. There's just a nice mix of Western mythology, from Bram Stoker to fairy tales. As the game went on and the experience moved to within the Castle gates, I actually really enjoyed the puzzles (most of them, anyway)that start to appear in the second 1/3 (and onward) of the game and how the experience steadily starts feeling like an almost Bram Stoker take on Castlevania, as Vampires are actually vulnerable to stakes through the heart and sunlight. There's also an fair amount of exploration as you acquire new abilities and are encouraged to explore previous areas for missed life/light/shadow gems and weapon increases. The combat also gets much more interesting as the game goes on and you unlock better abilities, particularly the ones tied to your Light and Shadow magic.

I know it sounds like I'm rambling a bit, but I really think this game gets a bad rap for its slow first 3 chapters (especially when it feels like most people are predisposed for hating it either because (1) it's similar to God of War (because, you know, God of War has divine exclusivity to that game design) and (2) because it's not Symphony of the Night).

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

I like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow as someone who enjoys the art in gaming. Castlevania has some of the best environments in any game and a lot of variety.

From a gameplay stand point it is not very good. Functional, but it is a been-there-done-that game. Way too many gameplay cliches.

Another thing that bothers me is that it gets goofy. The developers need to take a page from Demon's Souls on how to create a creepy game.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is not really a bad game, but it could have been a lot better. It is a lot better than the other 3D Castlvania games.

Gee, Brad. Fish for me much?

Gee, Brad. Fish for me much? :p

It's a serviceable GoW clone, pure and simple. The abilities you gain as you progress do add a lot more dynamism to the gameplay. But the story gets plodding, the soundtrack not particularly memorable, and the boss battles not terribly original. The big plot "twist" is REALLY deus ex machina, and doesn't even line up with the existing mythos they're trying to add to. Add in some veyr stupid nerdy references (look online for the Portal reference about Aperture Science in the game) and it really detracts from the universe. It's certainly better than the PS2/Xbox yawnfests, but I enjoyed the N64 ones more than those, too.

Don't bother with Lords of Shadow

I went into LoS really, really wanting to like it. The graphics are great, particularly the lighting and I've been wanting a proper 3D Castlevania in the old style for years. But while it looks like a AAA release, it never feels like one. The fighting is wooden and unsatisfying, the platforming and traversal are too slow and over-simplified, and the story and setting are just a hodge podge of God of War and Devil May Cry with very little taken from the Castlevania mythos itself. The game's also too long by about a third. So many filler levels in the front and back thirds of the game could have been cut with no detriment. It would have at least been better paced.

There are too many genuinely good games for you to feel obligated to spend time with this fussy, derivative albeit slickly produced mess.

Oh boy... where to start..

DR2 is DR1 with a tiny bit of new stuff and alot of odd stuff, I for one like weaopn building so even if its shallow I love it...other wise the game is a milker its void of anything worth the price of entrance IMO Onechanobara is better but not by much.

What can I say about CV:LOD..its a load alright....
The er... more realistic western themes are ok the atmosphere is barely ok, but much like COD and LOI its not a CV game, its a generic QTE action(IE god of war) game thats wearing the rancid corpse of a CV game. LOI and COD had issues but they were more CV than this nd they were better games believe it or not. Tho bad CV games yes.

IMO CV needs to be treated more like Zelda or MGS than say generic classic game simulator X. CV needs tog et away from the action game cliches make the RPG aspects deeper and have a large and varied level and map system. Say like The N64 games meet Morrwind met zelda met Assains creed. CV dose not do well as a generic action game and that is what they have been making it as(even on the DS) for the past 10ish years....

I wasn't going to comment...

...and talk up Castlevania one more time. Argue how I think it's combat is deep and it's story is pretty damn cool, even great at times. Jason Issac has a voice in the game. Blah blah blah. But I feel strongly about this game, so here we go.

I disagree with some of the complaints I've been hearing: the beginning is too slow. Yes, every game starts with a boss fight in which you impale a Warg, followed by high speed horseback riding. Many games have 1/3rd of their game go from a town outside a giant castle and end at the top of said castle. Many games emulate "Shadow of the Colossus" boss fights- wait, um, no. No one has ever tried to copy SotC. Castlevania pulls it off.

The music isn't Castlevania? Well, that's a great place to start...what it isn't. What it isn't is why half of the world hated FF XIII without even playing through the damn thing. The music in Lords of Shadow has repeating themes, that return and then get lost in traveling music, much like some pretty good symphonies.

And no offense to God of War, but the amount of enemy types in Castlevania put every other action/adventure game to shame.

And accusing the game of being a generic "God of War" or "DMC" just sounds like everyone decided the action/adventure genre is off limits for Castlevania. But copying Metroid was okay (although admittedly, that turned out brilliant).

Then consider the amount of boss fights, or the little touches, like how the game has a bestiary, and every monster in it is hand drawn "sketch book" style. And how that bestiary included little stories that flesh out some of the monsters.

The game managed to be long without tons of filler. It's just epic. It keeps whipping out (pun intended) new mechanics all the while, and the combat, with it's light and dark magic, gets deep, and works like clockwork.

But hey, it's not Symphony, so lots of people can yell about that.

For me, many games are emotional experiences that, when looked at from afar, blow all the polished AAA titles out of the water. Like Nier. Castlevania Lords of Shadow was one of those games. The way the music, and the story and the combat just worked in harmony (of dissonance? sorry) kept me completely invested. At times sent chills down my spine. The Lords of Shadow boss fights carried real weight to them; you worked so hard and fought so well to get there.

Did I mention the game is very hard...on it's Normal difficulty? Very refreshing. And yet, it's not frustratingly so, because on my 2nd play through, I was much better with the combat, and was kicking a lot of ass, where at first I felt challenged.

The game isn't perfect. Some of it's quicktime events are weak, the beautiful graphics can look a bit raw in places, and the story and voice acting can get silly at times. It's not perfect. Not at all.

I could go on and on, but ultimately, I don't understand how the opening so quickly turned you off, Brad, to the point that you seemed practically offended, and chose to make it the whipping boy for games that waste your time. Perhaps, it's just not meant to be. But I will stand by this game, and not claim that it is amazing, but that it was during my play through, and now, in hindsight, is still very, very good. I look forward to the sequel, especially after the unexpected ending.

GoW and Castlevania

Sakilla wrote:

And no offense to God of War, but the amount of enemy types in Castlevania put every other action/adventure game to shame.

And accusing the game of being a generic "God of War" or "DMC" just sounds like everyone decided the action/adventure genre is off limits for Castlevania. But copying Metroid was okay (although admittedly, that turned out brilliant).

GOW1-2 still play better story wise they are about as equally weak monster wise CV has maybe twice as many. But all in all its still a basic action game, instead of taking CV in the action RPG direction they should be refining and polishing its like they went pre SOTN and are making level to level arcade grinders.... I am disappointed in LOD its another generic or shallow semi artsy big budget game like Dantes Inferno... or Bioshock......

Sick of Metroidvanias

ZippyDSMlee wrote:

GOW1-2 still play better story wise they are about as equally weak monster wise CV has maybe twice as many. But all in all its still a basic action game, instead of taking CV in the action RPG direction they should be refining and polishing its like they went pre SOTN and are making level to level arcade grinders.... I am disappointed in LOD its another generic or shallow semi artsy big budget game like Dantes Inferno... or Bioshock......

Personally, I'm sick to death of the Metroidvanias, as Konami took that horse and beat it till it was long past dead on the GBA and DS with Symphony of the Night clones. This is one of the main problems I have with criticisms of this game: it's less of a problem with the game itself than it is that it doesn't meet peoples' expectations of "what a Castlevania game SHOULD be" (i.e. another cookie-cutter clone of Symphony of the Night).

I went into this game knowing that the developers had said they were trying to take the franchise in a new direction based somewhat on Super Castlevania IV, and I loved it. I don't need another Metroidvania or something like it, especially since Nintendo revived the Metroid franchise.

No fan of FF13

Sakilla wrote:

What it isn't is why half of the world hated FF XIII without even playing through the damn thing.

I would rather have kept the discussion to strictly be about LoS myself, but I don't think "half the world" are being unreasonable for hating FF13 without playing through it, not when most agrees that it takes 25 hours before it gets good.

No one is under any obligation to finish a game that has a very long rocky start. Not even reviewers of the game.

Pretty sure even the author of this post agrees, and you can read him summing it up here: http://drinkingcoffeecola.blogspot.com/2010/10/meat-boy-winner-layton-v-wright.html

Ps. And I finished FF13, and it sucks balls.

Metroidvania deserve better

Anonymous wrote:
ZippyDSMlee wrote:

GOW1-2 still play better story wise they are about as equally weak monster wise CV has maybe twice as many. But all in all its still a basic action game, instead of taking CV in the action RPG direction they should be refining and polishing its like they went pre SOTN and are making level to level arcade grinders.... I am disappointed in LOD its another generic or shallow semi artsy big budget game like Dantes Inferno... or Bioshock......

Personally, I'm sick to death of the Metroidvanias, as Konami took that horse and beat it till it was long past dead on the GBA and DS with Symphony of the Night clones. This is one of the main problems I have with criticisms of this game: it's less of a problem with the game itself than it is that it doesn't meet peoples' expectations of "what a Castlevania game SHOULD be" (i.e. another cookie-cutter clone of Symphony of the Night).

I went into this game knowing that the developers had said they were trying to take the franchise in a new direction based somewhat on Super Castlevania IV, and I loved it. I don't need another Metroidvania or something like it, especially since Nintendo revived the Metroid franchise.

Mmmmmmm I am sick of the generic and bland treatment the Metroidvania's get. The last 2 lacked good level design,varied skills/equipment and skill/item/equipment pacing, everything else was more or less ok(DS wise the GBA 'sorrow' title was good the rest suck OOE is pretty solid and less repeative than HOD). The problem as I see it they are making half a game and rushing far to much, for the DS/portable titles they are makeing generic action fantasy games and not Castelvina games.

LOD feels like bland generic action fodder(strangely similar to a ok to good DS/portable CV title), its half right as far as controls go and is not horrible persay but its not of something for me, but then most games are :P.

FF13 out of place

Nightdreamer wrote:
Sakilla wrote:

What it isn't is why half of the world hated FF XIII without even playing through the damn thing.

I would rather have kept the discussion to strictly be about LoS myself, but I don't think "half the world" are being unreasonable for hating FF13 without playing through it, not when most agrees that it takes 25 hours before it gets good.

No one is under any obligation to finish a game that has a very long rocky start. Not even reviewers of the game.

Pretty sure even the author of this post agrees, and you can read him summing it up here: http://drinkingcoffeecola.blogspot.com/2010/10/meat-boy-winner-layton-v-wright.html

Ps. And I finished FF13, and it sucks balls.

I just haz to chime in on the FF13 hate, square has managed to run FF into the ground much like Mega man and CV you don't make a huge RPG(or huge action RPG) and make it into a lite action game not for the main series not only that but their mechanic designs since FFX have mostly sucked for me FFX was half a game FF12 was a good start back to what FF is but still was half a game due to skills and equipment being bland or broken. FF13 is just a WTF, I am hoping vrs is the real main title in the series and not more wank then again S/E is almost dead to me these days.

Needs to be finished before being able to judge it

I agree with what someone else already said: the first 2/3 chapters are forgettable, also because the character has very few abilities/moves.

If you persevere you'll be rewarded with many diverse scenarios, some of which are really beautiful, and some truly epic boss battles. And you'll discover that the combat system is actually deeper than GoW/Dante's Inferno, with the various enemies and situations requiring different approaches to be defeated.

I'm not saying the game is perfect, but it definitely is a game that needs some dedication (also thanks to the difficulty level) before being able to judge it.

Possibly pedantic, but...

I don't think something can be "vaguely broken"...

It can be look at Bioshock,

It can be look at Bioshock, Oblivion or Fallout 3 lack of polish in design and balances leaves the game vaguely broken, if you care about gamepaly and such if not its all for the lulz(mindless enjoyment).

Apologies for getting back

Apologies for getting back to this thread so late. Got swamped with various things and before I knew it, a few days ago by.

Anyway, thanks very much to everyone who commented on Castlevania. You've all given me a lot to chew on, and I do intend to go back and try it again after the holidays. Also, not until after Konami sees fit to issue a patch for the 360 version. I don't know if you all saw it or not, but my wife just got zapped with a random glitch and she lost around twelve hours of progress. Apparently, she's not the only one, either. Once it's safe to play without fear of losing all that work, I'll give it another go.

Sakilla: Heh. It's not that the game offended me or anything, it was just that it got off to such a poor start (in my opinion, anyway) that I was having a hard time justifying why I should put my free time into it when there were so many other games in my to-play stack that seemed more deserving.

I also wrote a blog about games that start slow, and that further expands why it turned me off so much... in this day and age, there's just no excuse for starting poorly, let alone expecting someone to get through a third (or more) before it heats up.

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