In case you missed it, sprawling brawler sequel Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is issue 99's cover game. Log went to see the game at MercurySteam's HQ in Madrid, and found the combat systems to be a mix of old and new.
The basics of Lords of Shadow are left intact - fights are a mix of combos, countering, blocking and evasion, and your magic meters are refilled through combat. However, the trappings have changed to better suit returning hero Gabriel's new dark side.
Instead of magic, vanquished enemies now leave blood behind, and Gabriel can channel this into two pots. Light magic has been replaced by the Void, and Dark Magic is now Chaos. To further complement his new outlook on life, Gabriel has a number of new unique perks. He can transform into a mist (just like Gary Oldman's Dracula circa 1992), which is useful for combat and for passing through solid metal barriers. He can also "glamour mortals" to control his enemies, and "disappear into the night, unseen," which presumably means stealth sections.
As Gabriel, you earn more blood by filling the Focus gauge, which is rewarded through more stylish play. Varying your combos, blocking attacks using precise timing, and avoiding being hit all earn focus, and once the meter is full, every hit landed will yield blood.
Gabriel also has a new main weapon, the blood whip. Whilst the whip has incredible range, a touch of the left bumper will swap it out for the Void Sword, another new weapon that allows for lighter, faster attacks that boost your health whenever you land a hit. Alternatively, tapping the right bumper will gift you the Chaos Claws. These are slower but more powerful, and can be used to knock out the defences of shielded enemies.
Since the effects of Void and Chaos magic are more deeply tied into the melee mechanics themselves, it's even more important than ever to manage your magic levels. A new mastery system adds another level of intricacy by rewarding you for using more varied moves and combos. Using moves will level up the Void Sword, Chaos Claws or Blood Whip depending on their alignment, so it doesn't pay to stick to the same combos over and over.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 will also be the MercurySteam's last Castlevania game - there will be no loose ends left dangling by the game's final act. "We've told the story we want to tell," said the game's director Enric Alvarez, speaking to OXM. "There's nothing worse than someone who's said everything they need to say, then carries on talking."
Pick up issue 99 of OXM, on sale now, for Log's excellent preview in full. There's a ton of additional detail on the settings, open world exploration and new and improved Titan battles. Is Lords of Shadow 2 on your wishlist?