Review by kaneada
"This Time Konami did it Right"
The day this game came out I was in a Game Stop waiting eagerly to pick up my pre-order for the game I had made so many times before. I get to the counter and I ask them for my pre-order. Naturally, because everyone in Game Stop knows me, I didn't bring in my pre-order slip, this turned out to be the first time in my existence that they lost my pre-order. After about 20 minuets of waiting for them to find my documentation, I began thinking to myself will LOI even be worth all this hassle? Will it be better then Mega Man X7, which I had picked up the week before? Well after finnally finding out that they never took the deposit for it and put it all on another game I pre-ordered, I just bought it straight up. Well to say the least I was suprised by the game, it was way more then I thought it would be. Sure it had its fair share of flaws, but I guess you'll have to read on to get my opinion:
Now this is impressive. I was traveling from Rondoldo's house to the castle for the first time, and as I get to the end of the map, I see the most impressive render. I see a pine tree,for a second I do a double take on it. It looked so real, the texutres on it were amazing right down to the pine needles, but this is just the tip of the ice burg. The detail just gets better when you get inside the castle. The first thing I notice is that there is an amazing amount of work put into the texutres on the walls; right down to the engravings of statures and murals that tatoo the walls. The game has a very realistic feel. The character model for leon is very nice, his cape floats behind him fluidly as he walks. Most of the monsters on the feild map look amazing, right down to the ghosts that traverse walls leaving only a hit of light from the lantern they are carrying. Boss monsters are even better then the feild monsters. Medusa for example, has the most impressive use of textures. The scales on her body are so real; you would think they did the texture from a photo. Overall the graphics show that even thought the PS2 has aged, it definately is still a strong contender in the console market.
This is the first part that I found with noticeable flaws. First, however, I'm going to go over the plus side. The controler is set up beautifully. With two attack buttons, one for verticle attacks, and one for horizontal (thing Soul Calibur) the combo system is executed quite nicely. Over time you gain more attacks and special techniques that you can use in combat. You also have use of spells and the usual items of a CV game. This however has some new twists that you might not like. With the magic system, you have to manually charge your Mp gauge by blocking special attacks from monsters. This leaves you in a somewhat montonase battle to keep your Mp charged enough to execute magic attacks. The heat system has definately made an improvment. As in most CV games you get your usual axe, dagger, holywater, crystal, cross items, but as you defeat bosses you get spheres that you equip to change the attacks you do with the items. Some of these are straight up awesome, and others aren't quite as usuful. Overall its a welcome improvment. The last thing to note, is that the camera is unfortunately fixed. You cannot control it, where you would think they would make use of a camera with the right analog, they instead implement a real time menu system that you use to heal and use other necessary items to keep yourself going. This at times gets confusing, but the item system is necessary to keep gameplay alive and kicking. At times I find it to be a welcome trade off, but at others, Im screaming,''Damnit, where's the camera control when you need it.
System and Story 8/10
This is the typical CV story nothing new to mention here, your a belmont, a vampire that stole your girl is waiting for you to come claim her. The voice acting really adds to the story though. It gives the characters a little more depth then the previous games, mainly because for once you can't find any chop in the dialouge, and the voices are actually inspired. The one thing about the game that really upsets me thought, is that they recycle alot of maps. They tend to follow every main area with a hall way and it takes away from the discovery aspect. Not to say this game has no secrets, because it has so many that im still looking, this being my second time through. The RPG system used in the PSX, and GBA titles is replaced with a search for item to increase the stat system (think Zelda 2) which adds overall to the exploration. The game is completely non-linear, you can go anywhere from the start. That is a little upsetting, because its more like an action game, then the RPG counterparts that replaced the older incarnations of the game. I personally enjoyed the SOTN system better then the design taken on in this incarnation.
This is the part of the game that really makes me tick. The music is wonderful, really setting a gothic tone. The soundtrack is well balanced, some areas have a slow song to set the tone, and makes for build up, and others are just pure power, making your adrenaline rush while your pummeling a room full of baddies. The only soundtrack in the series that even comapres is SOTN. My personal favorite is the House of Sacred Remains; it blends a gothic rock organ intro, with a nice electronic meets medeval sound and flows nicely with the level. Definately up to the standard of the series francise.
I think that this time around, Konami got it right taking the CV series into 3-D. This game made me happy, and I've been playing them since the original. This will sucker in new fans to the francise, and its actually not a bad place for new commers to start because it tells how the Belmont clan came to be the vampire hunters of the middle age; it will also show the old schoolers that CV can make it in the 3-D world and still contain the same standard of excellence that the rest of the series has offered in the past. Its not a bad attempt to bring the series back into the 3-D world. It's a good building point, but lets hope that Team Iga will not rest here, so that when they bring the next game to the PS2 (if?) the next one will be flawless.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/09/03
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