If you've ever wondered what it would be like to live, reign and fight as Dracula himself, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 offers an intriguing approach to the traditional story. Fans of the previous release might recall when we last left our famed hero Gabriel Belmont, the end of the game had strongly suggested he was no longer the famed vampire hunter and was soon to become a vampire himself. While it's not the best situation for Gabriel, it provides a unique gaming experience for players who have been dying for the opportunity to play the Castlevania series from a fresh perspective, the role of the antagonist. After years of taking the heroic role, it's time for players to finally get a proper introduction to the unrelenting power of Dracula. There are a lot of improvements in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 in comparison to the original 2010 title. The magic system used within the game has been changed significantly. Gabriel is now able to wield the Void Sword and Chaos Claws, which are color-coded weapons that work best when used against enemies that are vulnerable to specific attacks. This is a huge difference from the first Lords of Shadow release, which allowed players to collect orbs for the Focus Meter by keeping up with continuous attack combinations. The new approach simplifies combat greatly, which should be helpful when faced with a large group of enemies during exploration. Another new addition to combat can be found in the Mastery System. This feature allows for users to level up their weapons and abilities by performing some of Gabriel's newly acquired skills for a certain amount of times before achieving full mastery status. This feature would be ideal for players who are seeking to ensure they become well acquainted with all of Gabriel's skills or for those seeking further refinement for a few favorite skills instead. Lords of Shadow 2 Unlike the first Lords of Shadow, Lords of Shadow 2 has been designed to allow players to look throughout the different environments that are present within Dracula's castle and beyond. The goal was to make the game feel as if it was an open-world experience and encourage players of previous Castlevania titles to search for the secret pathways and hidden items that have long been recognized as a part of the legacy. Lords of Shadow 2 is also said to lack loading times and provide players with the option to pursue different paths within the storyline. While the story may start out completely linear, it eventually branches out into multiple options for players to choose from during gameplay. The trailer also seems to suggest that Alucard will play a significant role within this game, although he is more likely to be recognized under another name in this release. It remains unknown whether or not he will be an unlockable character circa earlier Castlevania titles. As one might imagine, recent Castlevania releases have received quite a bit of backlash from fans of the retro series. The most noticeable issue is that none of the recent releases have maintained the canon storyline. Gabriel Belmont is Dracula, Trevor Belmont is Alucard and so on and so forth. These types of changes not only make it more challenging to follow the extensive storyline with every new release, but also make it extremely difficult for retro Castlevania fans to be able to relate towards newly added characters. As a result, many of the fans who are loyal to Castlevania's original canon storyline have felt increasingly disappointed with recent releases from MercurySteam. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 seems to acknowledge some of these issues by trying to marry some elements of retro Castlevania releases with some of the more modern reincarnations of the series. While Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 doesn't promise to be exactly like previous releases, it does manage to pay homage to some of the memorable aspects such as familiar enemies, recognizable quotes and a large amount of detail in Dracula's castle. For those who have been waiting for the past few years for a sequel to the initial Lords of Shadow release, all previews of this game seem to suggest that it will properly tie up loose ends in the non-canon storyline and keep players riveted to their consoles until the last moment of gameplay.