Review by wolvevice
"Castlevania in 3D can be done but they can do even better"
Castlevania was always a series in 2D and many believed that Castlevania in 3D would be a wasted effort and it cannot be done. Even though I personally think it was right for them to start making games of the series in 3D cosoles like the PS2, it did seem that they had some trouble turning the series into 3D. But it was done. Castlevania Lament of Innocence was a good start and it seems that there is future for the series in 3D.
The game's graphics is one of it's best highlights. The visuals of the castle and outside of it look really impressive and every character has extreme detail in their artwork and their animations. All rooms look really beautiful and definetely make you feel like you're in a big castle in the 11th century. Despite the fact that many enemies look alike their artwork is also very detailed when you face them in action or if you read about them in the encyclopedia. The main character's movements and combo attacks are almost never boring to watch and he always moves gracefully and stylish. I guess it should be said that many rooms are replica of themselves but since it is a giant castle it shouldn't be surprising if many rooms look the same. Many of the subweapon combo attacks also look amazing to watch and they did an alright job turning them into 3D.
Castlevania is known for some excellent music and fortunetely the game does not disappoint. The music in this game is very nice and fits the area of where you are. Most of the tracks are quite aesthetic and filled with intense drama. The main 5 areas of the game each have their own main theme and 3 of the areas have 2 themes actually, but you will be mostly hearing the main of them along with the theme when you get trapped in a room and have to defeat all the enemies to proceed. Pagoda of the Misty Moon also has two themes and you'll find the rest in the openings and at the endings of the story. Each boss has his/her own theme too and they're also great. There is also an unlockable where you can hear each track and a soft kind of version of the famous Vampire Killer which also plays in the credits. The sound effects are also top notch. When you walk in certain areas like a carpet and in water the sound changes accordingly but you will usually hear the standard sound when you walk in your boots. The sound effects of the enemies attacks when they miss or hit you are all good and accurate. Leon's jumping and quickstepping sounding is very fine and the sound of the whip swings are also detailed to the heavy and normal attacks. The same goes for the subweapons and when you enter doors. I own the European version and I don't really know if the Japanese voice acting was great but I can only assume it is. The English voice acting was great, and there were some cutscenes that were really awesome particulary in the end.
As you start the game, you will notice from the opening cutscene that the story in this game isn't anything new and surprising, it's just your typical excuse to go to the castle and save your lady, or take revenge because Dracula killed her, or pretty much learn that Dracula's castle has appeared and you have to stop him. However, if you pay close attention you will notice that Dracula doesn't even exist yet. As he story progresses you will notice that the plot around this time involves telling the story of how the legendary Vampire killer was created, how Dracula was formed and why the Belmont clan is a legendery vampire hunter family. Now, there aren't many cutscenes in the game, they particularly show at the begining of the game, when you defeat 3 of the main bosses and near the end of the game. Trust me though they are long when they play and enough when you consider the lenth of the game. They will also mainly involve the main character Leon Belmont and the merchant Rinaldo Gandolfi. They were very enjoyable making you seek more to enjoy the story on even more detail. The merchant in this game plays a very important role in the plot. The story will sure keep the player curious of what's gonna happen but at the same time you might predict some things about the plot and it's villains. That said, the story shows a lot of originality in comparison to other Castlevania games.
The actual purpose of this game. This a pure action game. The gameplay of this game is very simple and just like any other Castlevania game you run around exploring the castle and kill various monsters and enemies. The game is kind of short but then again most Castlevania games are. I understand that Konami tried to turn 2D Castlevania into 3D without losing the gameplay and feeling of 2D which was alright. If you piece together the maps of the castle you will notice that it really is a Castlevania game turned from 2D into 3D, nothing more, nothing less. This means that Konami realistically succeded in the transformation adding some minor differences. When you enter the castle and take the tutorial, you will go to an area where you choose which part of the castle you want to visit. You can choose them in any order even though the game kinda tells you which area you should play first by putting the map of the area on the teleporter. Each area is slightly harder or easier and some enemies show in certain areas only. Unlike the metroidvania Castlevania games you DO NOT level up. The enemies also don't level up. That means that some of the enemies will be always weak and some others will always be a pain to defeat. Leon can find power ups and equip better armour and many different accessories which can help defensively or offensively. As for Leon's weapons he will mainly be using his whip which will eventually become the Vampire Killer but there are other elemental whips he can get by defeating some optional bosses. He can also use the classic subweapons introducing a new one as well. The subweapons can be mixed with orbs which you will mainly obtain by defeating the game's main bosses. Leon can also use relics which drain his MP bar. The downside is that it's a little hard to restore MP in this game. Leon can guard from attacks and if he guards against a purple magical attack from an enemy it will restore MP. By finding money in the castle you can spend it to buy potions, armour and some other items. Armours will appear on the shop depending on your total map percentage and there are other unlockable items in his shop as well as items that will appear only once. Leon can also sell items that he doesn't want and even get a discount with a certain accessory. The game in general has a healthy challenge in it, there are some great boss fights and some enemies that are hard to defeat. You can save the game and restore your health with save points which can be found in all areas and usually before a boss fight. The game also has some sort of plattforming in it and Leon must use his whip to reach some places but most of the time the player will check their map and run through many hallways and rooms killing monsters and then repeat. The game can last you about 10 hours to beat and even less if you're a great gamer or a proffessional Castlevania player that wants to marathon through the game. However there are many secret rooms and items and it will take longer for you if you want to get them all, reach 100% map completion and get all the drop items from enemies. Leon will also gain skills as you play the game and learn various new whip combo attacks. There are also many items which you just collect like maps and keys, which will open specific doors so the game has some backtracking in it as well. In the start menu there is also an encyclopedia with all the enemies and bosses. The player can study their weaknesses and resistances, see their drops and some other information. So in the end the game plays similarly to the SOTN style of Castlevania but less RPG oriented and is more of an action game.
Briefly, the controls in this game aren't really too crazy but there are some things about them that aren't vey welcome. First of all, the player will notice that the game has a fixed camera. To be honest since this game is mostly about getting in rooms and killing enemies it's really for the best but sometimes the camera goes into some annoying positions you won't enjoy. For example there is a certain level with giant swinging axes and because of the camera it's difficult to see what you're doing when you get close to them. Another important fact is that you can only use items in the real time window. This makes the game more realistic but at the same time harder. You have to set the items you would usually use first on the list so that you don't waste time finding them and put the less useful at the end of the list and so on. Leon can only walk when that window is open, so you get the idea. You have to predict in the battle as well because you can't move when the potion restores your health and if you wait for the time when you are close to out of health you may not have enough time to use a potion. The controls are also slightly wasted. For instance, you can get into some same menus with different controls and you can press two different buttons to guard. However once you get use to these minorities the controls are fairly good and responsive and it's not very hard to move Leon.
Replay Value: 8/10
Thre are some extra things you can do when you finish the actual story. There are some other modes to play the game with and some items you unlock to the shop only if you complete certain modes. You can play the game as one of the bosses, Joachim who plays very differently from Leon. You can also play as Pumpkin, another character who plays exactly like Leon but has more attack and defense but less MP and HP. Both modes have some minor differences as well like the appearance of items and such but since they don't get any cutscenes of their own (Joachim gets one in the end) and they aren't really special, the game may get boring when you listen to the few tracks in the game and kill the same enemies. You can also play a Crazy mode. You play the game with Leon and with the actuall plot but the game is a LOT harder. Leon is weaker, there are more enemies in every room and they are tougher as well. There is some pleasure in beating the game in these different modes and some extra stuff to unlock and there is also a Boss Rush mode where you fight every boss in the game in a time trial. All in all the game has some okay content after the end and may keep you hooked if you enjoyed the actual game.
Overall Score: 9/10
Overall, this game is a nice addition to the Castlevania series with fast and responsive action, an interesting plot and some great tracks in it. If you want to play a drama and kind of horror gothic game, Castlevania Lament of Innocence suits this theme and you'll have a hell of a good time playing it. There are some odd aspects about it but it's a great start in the 3D series of Castlevania. There's so much more that can be added to give the game more depth and fun. Hopefully you will find this game as fun as me!
Special Note: As of this time the game is available on PS Network for 10 dollars so it can be played on PS3 as well.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/06/10, Updated 06/26/13
Game Release: Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (US, 10/21/03)
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