Video game review: 'Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate'

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Entertainment,Ryan Vogt,Video Games

Resolved: The number of subtitles a game has is inversely proportional to the likelihood that it's any good.

This resolution is borne out by action sidescroller "Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate," which is clearly compensating for something.

The game has a whole lot of pretense but not a whole lot of soul. It looks great and sounds great, but it doesn't feel right.

"Mirror of Fate" makes great use of the 3DS' namesake depth of field. The spires of Dracula's castle have never stood in starker relief, bosses are suitably imposing, and the developers populate the background with waterfalls, hanging bodies, everything you'd expect from a "Castlevania" game.

'Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate'
» System: 3DS
» Price: $39.99
» Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

"Mirror of Fate" also has the creepiest music in recent memory, with harmonies of dissonance and arias of sorrow.

But this isn't a hand-held "Castlevania" game in the proud tradition of "Harmony of Dissonance" and "Aria of Sorrow." "Mirror of Fate" is the sequel to the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 game "Castelvania: Lords of Shadow," which added "Castlevania" to the list of storied Japanese series that have been needlessly rebooted in the "Western style." When you think of Gothic horror, do you think of the hulking dudes from "Gears of War"? Me neither, but Konami apparently thought football-player physiques were the fix to what wasn't broken. Even the salamander dudes that crawl out of the water look like they've been hitting the gym.

Along with elegance, the cerebral aspects of previous hand-held "Castlevanias" are missing. The intricate, customizable magic systems have been replaced by a mode of combat that revolves around button combos. "Neat, now that I've killed 50 zombies, I don't have to use XXYXXY anymore, I've unlocked XXYYXY!"

The original "Castlevania" in 1987 was interesting because it wasn't just another "Double Dragon"-style button-masher. Twenty-six years later, Konami has forgotten where it came from.

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