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Lords of Shadow 2 Might Have Been Good, Had Dracula Been Evil

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 25 Mar 2014 16:00
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Gabriel Dracula

Where Lords of Shadow 2 buggered this up is firstly with Dracula shrugging off the whole future-thing the instant he arrives. He didn't seem even slightly confused by a car or anything like that. I could picture him trying to walk into a TV and interact with all the seemingly-living people inside, then failing and trying to look dignified as he stormed off. Yes, this would have been a little bit camp, in a Masters Of The Universe movie kind of way, but face it - it's Dracula. Dracula's already camp. Look at the intro to Symphony of the Night. It's not even the terrible voice acting - you could give those lines to Lawrence Olivier and they'd still be camp. Dracula wears camp more comfortably than he does his fucking beard.

Secondly, the game buggers this up by making Dracula a hero. All these ultra-violent games where you play massive bastards are always trying to have their cake and eat it. God of War, Prototype, all of those, have always tried to come up with a villain the protagonist can fight who comes across as even worse. In this case, they went for Satan. Literally the worst entity in the entire universe. If you ask me, that's just lazy writing.

You don't have to make the protagonist heroic. A character who was once at the peak of villainous power, now with everything taken away and trapped in an unfamiliar world, that is a character that can be presented as sympathetic even if he did once spear babies on cocktail sticks to put in his blood martini. A character needn't be righteous and good to be intriguing and likeable, they just have to show a bit of weakness, flaw, and emotion. So maybe you don't have to pit him against an even bigger bastard for the good of all mankind. Maybe Dracula could arrive in a world where everything is fine, and then declare, fuck fine, I'm Dracula. I don't do fine.

'Cos what you have there is an opportunity for a reversal, nay, deconstruction of how games like these usually work. Instead of a lone hero placed into a world where everything's fucked and having to fight their way to a better world, we place a lone villain in a world where everything's perfectly fine, and have them fight their way to turning it into the kind of situation a heroic character might want to come along and fix.

And another thing - let's have Dracula being a bit more of the Prince of Darkness, yeah? As in, a leader of monsters. Dracula shouldn't have to climb on shit like a monkey, he should send an imp to do that, that we can temporarily control while Dracula stands around looking cool. Dracula shouldn't even have to debase himself to punching the low-level security guards and police officers trying to stop his new reign of darkness. Maybe once or twice to effortlessly push a hand through someone's chest and show them their beating heart, but at all other times, he should just open up his cloak and throw out a demon fitting for the current situation. Sort of like Pokemon but unspeakably evil. Or, to bring it closer to home, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, but without so much whining. Which I admit is like saying "please bring an apple strudel without any flakey bits".

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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