Castlevania in 3D has not always been given a warm welcome from fans. Symphony of the Night has always been a staple for most gamers to bring up in conversation. However, Konami and Hideo Kojima are hoping to change all of that with Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. As our demo began, we were first treated to the protagonist, Gabriel Belmont, coming into a town during a heavy rain storm and already it looks amazing. Everything here is completely drenched and the water effects look amazing. Clothes look heavier with the rain and seeing it run down everything from peasants to horses is a great addition to detail. You get the sense that things are bleak and the peasants are in dire need of help.
Within a matter of minutes the small area becomes infested with werewolves. This is when the first bit of combat is shown and Gabriel is carrying a mighty weapon. Looking like the hilt of a sword, we get a chance to use the combat-cross; Gabriel's mighty whip. Gabriel has two types of whip attacks. The first is an area attack that is best used for crowd control. He will violently swing his whip around him hitting everything in its path. Those that are hit explode into pools of blood. The second is direct attacks. With no need for a lock on, Gabriel will instantly attack the nearest enemy and can start several combo chains. He can then proceed to do an area lash or can knock an opponent in the air for aerial combos.
After a few dead werewolves, you will gain enough experience to view the leveling up system. Here you can purchase new attacks. For the demo, I decided to go with an aerial slam. After Gabriel performs a whip attack after jumping, he will then spin violently back down into the ground.
The items of the Castlevania series also return. Here werewolves drop daggers. Only a stack of five could be carried, so it pays to use these things wisely. But one hit from them dealt serious damage.
It has been said that magic will also be one of Gabriel Belmont's tools to use; both light magic and dark magic. While light magic will do things such as heal you of damage, dark magic can be added to items to augment them. I was told that dark magic could be added to daggers to make them fire-based which would deal extra damage to werewolves.
All of a sudden the granddaddy of all werewolves burst through a gate to avenge his fallen followers. Here you can utilize all that you have learned so far and can dodge out of the way of oncoming attacks. Once you wear down the Werewolf's health down enough, Gabriel picks up a giant wooden stake and impales the charging werewolf.
From what I have seen so far from Gabriel's actions, you get the sense that he is a troubled soul. He exudes a persona of both savior and beast. Even after he saves the small town, peasants still back away from him with fear. They point him in the next direction, but that's all they do. You get a sense he is not wanted there.
And his mood is going to be key if Konami wants to entrap you in this story. The narrator comments on how love will make men do stupid things, and Gabriel is that man. He wants a mystical mask that will resurrect his dead wife so he can be with her once again. And he will do anything that will lead him to it; even if it means jumping on a horse that jumps randomly through a portal telling him he must ride it so he can get to the next part of the mission without hesitation, which brings you to the second half of the demo. Horse-mounted combat feels stiff, but it is meant to be at this point. You are trying to steer the horse as well as fend off monstrous attackers. Now you have the option of attacking the werewolf riders or their worgen mounts to get them off your back. Once you have weakened a worgen mount, you can then jump on it and finish it off with your combat cross.
Konami and Hideo Kojima are hoping gamers will stop looking to Castlevania games of the past and move on to the future, and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is off to a good start. The combat so far seems fast-paced and very accessible and the mood is very enticing. After spending just a few minutes with Gabriel Belmont, I really want to know more about him, his past and what he must do to be reunited with his beloved. Look for it later this year.