As I sit here writing this, 3 major releases sit on my desk; Tomb Raider, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate and SimCity. It’s been 15 years since the last truly good Tomb Raider, 10 years since the last true SimCity game and up until today, I refused to acknowledge the existence of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, making Order of Ecclesia the last Castlevania game back in 2008. That is 30 years of mediocrity and money milking since these series’ last awesome releases.
I feel the need to point this out because for all 3 of these titles, these are their second chances at relevancy. For example, you cannot convince me that Lords of Shadow was originally written as a Castlevania title. It was far more likely that it was a game that was modified to fit a reboot of the series. It was ok, but it was also far from the series I had come to love. Tomb Raider has had absolutely horrid releases ever since its first sequel and after several lukewarm sequels, the series was rendered irrelevant by the Uncharted series. SimCity? Well outside of Societies, the last SimCity release was SimCity 4, a solid game but also 10 years old. The introduction of the Sims franchise just seemed to make everyone forget about the Maxis title that made this all happen.
While working on reviews for these games, I feel the need to explain why you should be so excited for this release week. Last year at E3, I sat in a small private theatre and watched the first private gameplay demos for the new Tomb Raider. I walked out of that theatre absolutely amped for the reboot, I’ll talk more about it in my review. Castlevania was a little bit of a different experience. I sat at a table with PR for Konami, they asked me why I didn’t like the new Castlevania direction. I told them that the new God of War direction goes directly against what had made the series great since the day I first played the original on my NES. I was then shown gameplay video of the 3DS Mirror of Fate, I wasn’t sold, it still looked hack and slash. Finally, I waited in line to see the first videos and demos of SimCity, a series that I spent numerous hours playing during middle school and early high school. It looked great and seemed to embody everything that had made the original series run great. Well, guess what? Right, wrong and probably wrong.
As I was downloading and installing Tomb Raider and SimCity, I played Castlevania. I had a really good time. SimCity was done first. I couldn’t play it though, there was a queue to enter the server so I could play single player. This was oddly reminiscent on Diablo 3 last year. Finally, this morning, I played the opening act of Tomb Raider and headed out of the house highly satisfied. I know that I need to keep SimCity up in the air as to where we stand, but 2 out of 3 isn’t bad.
This gives me hope for future series’ reboots. After the release of DMC last month, I am feeling quite confident for reboots in general. You should too, and the best way to say that you support these decisions and creative directions is by getting your hands on these worthwhile titles. We should have the reviews available for these titles throughout this week. Until then play hard and be sure to drop a comment or two once they hit. We love the feedback!