Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Did that connect?

I need to amend my description of the combat in Lords of Shadow 2. Good combat has some weight to it. The player knows when he or she hits an enemy and, more importantly, the enemy behaves like it has been hit, recoiling slightly from a light hit and getting knocked on its ass by a big one. Without tactile feedback the way it looks is all the player has to go by. The Arkham games are a perfect recent example. When Bats cracks a guy in the jaw everyone winces, including the guy pressing the button.

Dracula attacks have no meat to them. It feels like I am annoying the enemies with a giant, evil wet noodle. They will stop my string of attacks with their own, effectively no selling Dracula's strength.

No offense to the Ultimate Warrior, who died today, but damn man. The effect is the same: the enemy does not look like it is taking damage so the attacker appears weak and the player gets frustrated. What saves Lords of Shadow 2 is that there really isn't much combat. Long stretches of the game are simply exploring the real world or the ancient castle. This is when the game shines: the environments are large, moody, and fun to poke around in. Enemies are a distraction from this instead a highlight to it.

Games can have it both ways, see God of War or Bayonetta for examples. Lords of Shadow 2 gets just as much right as it gets wrong and may end up being forgettable for it.

Side note: the opening sequence filling in the time between Lords of Shadow 1 and 2 is the best kind of fan service. It incorporates most of the previous games while hand waving the unimportant details. I was completely sold on the premise of Dracula coming back in the present day which makes the game not delivering all the more painful.

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