You would think retrofitting an unrelentingly charming, polychromatic setting into a team-based shooter would be the hard part, but no. They nailed that part. When you can get in to play Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, holy shit. Not everybody got the memo brand-wise, but believe it: I can banish them. I know how to Snap Party.
I would say that about seventy-five percent of the time I would like to try a round of Garden Warfare, I can do so. Is that a good number? It only cost forty dollars, instead of sixty. Should my rage, therefore, be a percentage also? I’ve only been complaining about their infrastructure for a decade, right? It’s not like I didn’t know deep down. I have a compulsive need to check, though, to know; to see how many parts per million are rank betrayal.
Before I was attempting to play Plants Vs. Zombies, the bulk of my leisure hours were invested in Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow The Second. It’s got problems.
It takes a lot to make “stealth” as a construct feel right, so much so that unless you want that to be your “thing” and dump a profundity of resources into it that may not be your best plan. Lords of Shadow 2, like Lords of Shadow, has good combat. Hard, technical, borderline unfair combat where even lowly foes swing unblockables and can hit you in the middle of your own combos. It doesn’t need stealth of any kind. But here we are.
For story reasons that I don’t have any fundamental problems with, Gabriel Belmont - now the dragon, Dracula - awakes in the future. Except it is the most boring, ordinary, future. If their power for rendering Gothic architecture and otherworldy medieval weren’t so exquisite, it wouldn’t be so shocking. But when you flip from precision excellence to almost aggressive normality, it hurts your neck. This stuff is confusing, because we know they have it in them to do it right.
I know all those things. They are important and absolutely have a place in my algorithm. But I can’t hate this game, I just can’t. Yes, it has tons of mean-spirited platforming. It doesn’t give a shit about being too hard, but that only makes me want to beat it more - and they give me the tools to do so. My forehead is pressed against its forehead, and I speak to it through my teeth.
The game is a parenthetical around the entire Castlevania series, which some people don’t like, but it is completely of a piece with how we do things now culturally. It retroactively enobles the Belmont line, and adds an element of religious philosophy I think is completely underrated. It contains the franchise in a way I completely buy.
This game is literally about Dracula warring with Satan. That is what it is actually about. Not some euphemistic Diablo, or Belial: the fucking devil. They could call this game Dracula Vs. Satan without any loss of accuracy. That easily makes it the most metal game of this generation.