Review by Ethel
"It really isn't that bad"
Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is the first Castlevania game to come out for the PS2. There were high expectations, but the hype was extinguished quickly. Many people abhor the combination of Castlevania and 3D, and though it was not without a reason, one can see the good points of this 3D Castlevania game if they look at it once again with a more open mind.
Caslevania: Lament of Innocence starts off JUST plain and boring, as though gamers haven't seen enough of saving damsels in distress. But as the game progresses, the storyline captures the player, and one will actually desire to know more. The events in this game is most likely the mark of the start of the entire Castlevania plot, and it is good one to say the least, as one of the most asked question of the origin of Dracula and the reason of the feud between him and the whip-wielding vampire hunter family of Belmont has finally been fully answered in a satisfactory manner. This surely ignites a greater interest for the series in the hearts of long term die-hard fans, as well as those who are new to it.
While many detest it, I, on the other hand, actually enjoyed the gameplay in Lament of Innocence almost as much as I did in Symphony of the Night. Using the main character Leon Belmont, you whip through monsters and learn new combos which greatly increases the effectiveness of your attacks. Using subweapons like Crystal, Knife etc equipped with the various colored orbs you obtain from beating the bosses, finding the favorite combination to send the evil troops back to dust is an enjoyable experience. You can also use relics for certain effects such as running faster, regaining lost HP and so on. The platform jumps are tricky and can get irritating at times because of the 3D awkward view, and you can't rotate the screen, so that is a minus point. But other than that, the variety of enemies(pesky ones or not) and a slight amount of small puzzles makes things more interesting.
Exploring to a full 100% is a rather big task as well, but this involves some standard of patience, as revisiting a level 5 times - just to enter that previously locked or mechanism triggered room that has the key hidden in the hard-to-get-to room in another level or the need of an elemental whip which can only be gotten by beating the boss in the other dungeon- is a rather tedious and tolerance - burning thing to do. At times like this, one may start to get mad at the producers for not including the great invention called the warp room. However, it is not that big of a complaint, as even though enemies in rooms regenerate each time you leave the room and re-enter, you just need to kill them the first time you enter, after which they are all optional battles.
I think the graphics for this game is really good, of course you have seen much better ones, but I think the details are carefully done, including the designs and color mixing. Each level has different items, objects, paintings, symbols, statues and lighting that gives a comparatively different feel. This does not mean putting pots of plants for a garden or an ocean for a seaside theme.
Rather, the surroundings blended in very well for whichever stage one is playing on, making use of a lot of unique and pretty artwork. The effects of attacking combos, using subweapons are nice, though not particularly breath-taking. The characters themselves though, ain't that well drawn, especially Sara. Animations of the characters' actions are done pretty badly as well, they practically have no emotions on their faces, angry or sad, they all looked the same, and that's bad news.
Upbeat music in some areas, gothic with a tinge of techno. In other parts, the music stuck to the same dark aura feeling that should have been emanated from Castlevania games, including use of an array of musical instruments to give not just one plain genre, but a merge which turns out to be quite pleasing. But I had hope that more pieces were written, sadly the word repetitive does tend to seep into one's mind throughout playing and listening for the whole game. If only there are more tunes, things can be more exciting. The sound effects are okay, the voice-over is pretty decent as well. The english version has a bonus option setting whereby you can choose to listen to the voice-acting either in english or japanese, with the conversation lines still shown in the former(of course). And due to this, I have to say that it provides more versatility. One thing to add in is that the voice-over of the characters doesn't quite collaborate with the movement of their mouths, nevertheless that shouldn't pose too much of a problem...not as though you are interested in watching expressionless faces speak correctly.
There are only a few characters in this game who actually play a bigger role, the small amount of supporting characters are somewhat redundant unless you begin to explore and think deeper into the connections or similiarities they may have with characters in the other Caslevania games. Character designs are pretty much of the same old style and look.
The replayability value is low, even though you can replay the game using 2 other secret characters, everything remains pretty much the same besides the difficulty and the addition or extraction of some equipment(depending on who you are using), other than that, not much changes in the layout of levels, and there are no new places/levels with extra items or bossess that can be explored which can make replays of greater appeal.
I would give this a 8.5, but based on the good event setting for the start of the all-time favorite Castlevania series, as well as a pretty good 3D implementation, rounding up to 9 is quite fitting. It is definitely not one of Castlevania's best, but instead of a mere "kill the vampire and save the world" theme, it brings and gives out more in terms of in-depth purpose and understanding for everyone who is interested in the series events and for anyone who just want to enjoy a Castlevania game that is different from the common.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/26/06
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