Best of 2010 #10: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

Castlevania: Lords of ShadowMany talk about how unexpected this was, given the series’, shall we say, inconsistent relationship with the third dimension, but in reality there was no time like the present. The ongoing commercial success of the God of War series and a spate of critically acclaimed games in the genre showed that there was a viable blueprint to follow, and with that, all it needed was some talent.

That’s Hideo Kojima explained, so perhaps the choice of MercurySteam as developer was the big surprise. Regardless, the Spanish dev did what Rocksteady Studios did with Batman: Arkham Asylum last year by unleashing a game on the world that exceeded all expectations, both in its own right and as a reflection of the developer’s pedigree.

Lords of Shadow isn’t particularly original, liberally borrowing from myriad similar games and also anything else that took the designers’ fancy: Pan straight out of Pan’s Labyrinth, an extremely familiar battle against an Ice Colossus Titan that immediately follows, and nods like a trip inside the Great Dekuh Tree – and those are all within the first couple of hours. Regardless, it’s a highly competent game, dripping with atmosphere and putting those high production values that are the mark of Kojima’s involvement to good use for some stunning environments and quality storytelling.

Word on the grapevine is that a sequel will be announced in 2011. With the hard reboot stuff out of the way, give me this with an appearance by a certain dark lord and I’ll be queuing up to indulge.

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