Played It: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
As I played Castlenavia: Lords of Shadow, I kept comparing it, usually unfavourably, to the only other game I've played in this series: Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. Which isn't to say that this isn't a solid game. The mixture of platforming and brawling is very satisfying, the art design and environments are all lovely to behold, and the story, while weakly plotted, remains consistently interesting.
The first major problem is this: while keeping the player within the bounds of the level is obviously not a problem in the 2D Castlevanias, it requires considerable finesse in a 3D one. The developers here have hit upon the simplest and worst solution: invisible walls. You'll see a barrier you should easily be able to jump over, but it still blocks your progress. You'll see a raised platform and wonder what's on it – the answer will be that a mysterious force blocks you from actually mounting it. For a linear game this wouldn't be so bad, but as you'd expect from Castlevania, this game encourages and even requires exploration – exploration which inevitably devolves into butting up against those invisible walls to find the places where you're actually allowed through.
The other major problem is Patrick Stewart. Bringing his best “I'm in a video game” voice to the production (see also: the opening scenes of Oblivion), Stewart's character provides utterly bombastic narration over the loading screens. It's a neat idea, but badly executed, especially given that it interrupts Robert Carlyle's superb performance as the player character. To go from Carlyle's quietly simmering intensity to Stewart melodramatically overstating the obvious does both actors a disservice.
Apart from those two annoyances, though, this is a supremely classy game, and I found it quite addictive from start to finish.