Review by j3n0v4pr0j3ct
"I HEART CRAZY IGA!"
That CRAZY IGA. At it again. Well, that's good for us. Because now we can play Castlevania. In 3D even! Ok, so there are those 2 for the N64, but they don't really count. Because CRAZY IGA said so. He's the producer of the series, you know. And, as is his wont, he's taking the series in a new direction, and a few steps back, with the newest installment: Lament of Innocence.
*The Story:* Squa.. er I mean Leon Belmont must save his beloved Sara from the evil Vampire Walter. He does sound like a relation to the Dread Pirate Roberts, but he isn't. Walter controls the Forest of Everlasting Night, or some such, and he has a Castle there. Leon goes to investigate, and so begins the origin of one of the best videogame series ever. I won't say much, but the full tale is pretty messed up. Think the origin of the Slayer on Buffy. I was both stunned and... another word that means stunned. Shocked, I guess. There is still an element of mystery when it's over, and kinda makes you think. If you're the type to analyze videogame plots...I give it an A.
*Gameplay:* Sweeeeeet. That's all I can say. Well, I'll say more, this thing has to be at least 400 words long. The controls are responsive, Leon whips, jumps, and basically acts like Dante from Devil May Cry. Not surprising, as IGA said that DMC was like what he wanted a 3D Castlevania to be. Unlike DMC, all inventory management is done in real time, with the right analog stick. Takes a little getting used to, for instance in some situations you want to evade an attack while gulping down a potion. It can get a little tricky. There are plenty of well-hidden weapons, and magical relics (which grant Leon nifty powers) to find. All in all, the action moves pretty quickly. The traditional subweapons are here, minus the stopwatch. They can be combined with orbs obtained from beating the bosses to create a dazzling array of powers. Yes, I said it. Dazzling. This system is quite similar to the one from the Gameboy Advance title Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, probably the only really good thing from that game. The enemies are pretty intelligent, if they get you on the ropes you might have some trouble. It's not too hard, not too tough. There *is* an unlockable hard mode after you beat the game. There is one spot on this otherwise excellent game, and the reason it has no perfect score, and that's the camera. There are *no* camera controls. That's not a problem usually, but the first boss I got too creamed me a few times before I learned to hear the noise he made when he was preparing to attack. He was mostly offscreen, no matter how I moved. Once you get the hang of how the camera works, it's no biggie, though. B+, only because of the camera.
*Graphics & Sound*: What can I say. The game is gorgeous. There are many unique rooms to find. Some of the corridors are a little blocky, but you have to remember that this is the year 1000 A.D, or around there. Things were built more simply then. And there will be plenty of time to make the place FAB-ulous later. Which brings me to my next point. Apparently the Undead like Disco, cause it plays in a few areas, a hilarious break from the otherwise creepy, gothic orchestral mood music. The characters all look vaguely Asian for some reason. Not uncommon in the Dark Ages, I'm told. And Leon has some kind of platinum blond perm. And either he's preternaturally calm when faced with danger and whatnot, or he's on drugs. But the animation is good, and is *always* smooth as silk. A+ there.
*The Final Word*: While I am admittedly a big fan of the Castlevania series, I'm fairly sure that this game can stand on it's own merits. It's no Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which it seems most people nowadays are familiar with. Instead of the RPGish feel of that game, what with the powerleveling, and a hojillion useless items, this game revisits the *roots* of Castlevania. Hittin' vampires with a whip. Jumpin' over stuff. It's not perfect, but I hope this is the start of a new trend for Castlevania. This game carries Jenova's Seal of Approval. There, I said it. A- for this game, or 9 out of 10.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 10/27/03
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