Review by Ca1amity
"Oh no.. another 3-D one."
Castlevania has offered gamers an enjoyable, yet for the most part challenging experience for some 15+ years. Its longevity is only compared to by a minuscule amount of other series', and through time the series has retained its healthy status by not being victim to lackluster games (save for Castlevania 64) that carry its insignia. Konami's latest offering allows gamers to once again be taken back to a 3D atmosphere that only Castlevania can provide, and to answer most of anyone's question--yes, it's done quite well.
You play as Leon, the first of the Belmont kinsmen to have gripped the legendary whip and go against a slew of baddies that want nothing more than to steal your soul. In a feudal era, two knights of the Church fight against those who oppose the ways of God; Leon Belmont and Mathias Cronqvist. After being given word by his loyal friend Mathias, Leon is told that his fiance Sara is being held captive at a powerful vampire's castle. It's up to Leon to save his beloved, slay the vampire and hopefully the night, too.. Cliche? Yes. Performed well? Yes.
The gameplay in Lament of Innocence will not allow any gamer to catch a couple z's from boredom. You're constantly being rushed by multiple enemies; failure to apply the correct combo for a specific situation can mean taking vital damage. Gameplay's enhanced by learning new skills that will lengthen and strengthen Leon's combos, and mixing up your attacks with basic or charged attacks.
Relics (magic) can be found throughout your journey to provide even more depth to battles, and equipping the right one may be just the leverage you'll need against a boss; given your gaming ''talent'' doesn't allow you to beat it otherwise.
Sub-Weapons can be equipped with orbs that instill the weapon with new effects and strengths that can be used to inflict damage on multiple enemies, or focus one large attack on just one.
The gameplay is fast, and at times intense. Attacks flow smoothly, and the whip's crack is amazingly implemented in that it sounds cool and realistic. Fans of Devil May Cry will love the stylish attacks, while fans of traditional Castlevania's will love the simplicity in which they're performed.
The graphics are polished nicely, and you'll experience no lag at any time during gameplay regardless of how many characters are running about on screen. It's obvious that much detail was implemented in the environments, though they do tend to get slightly repetitive after a while, but not enough to agitate the vast majority. All but one boss model (Golem, anyone?) looks great, and they suffer no less detail than what's given to Leon.
The environments are ornate, and players will at times find themselves staring at a picture and attempting to depict its meaning. The graphics are on par with most of all action games, but do not surpass them in any way, shape or manner.
Aside from the fun gameplay, this is where Lament of Innocence shines the most. The soundtrack was done by genius Michiru Yamane (of Symphony of the Night and Aria of Sorrow fame), and doesn't fail to be the game's foundation. Many gamers will be able to appreciate the almost perfectly crafted score, and be able to listen to the music for hours on end.
The sound effects are not put to sleep, either. They're brought to life and thrive fluently through such things as Leon's crackling whip sound, the smashing of stone torches and other inanimate objects.
Lament of Innocence will consume about as much time as your average action/adventure game these days; roughly 8-10 hours long your first time through. Initially, this doesn't seem to be much. But when blessed with the extra's that are unlocked upon completing the game, you grow to appreciate the time because it's greatly expanded through these extra's.
Lament of Innocence will keep you coming back for more no matter your thirst. Albeit an increased difficulty or other treats, something will drive you to wanting to complete the game at least one more time. There's multiple modes and other goodies to be unlocked, all of which are well worth obtaining.
Ultimately, Lament of Innocence is a game anyone should have sitting comfortably near the top of their collection. Though it's not going to gain the public stature of SoTN, the game will provide most of anyone enjoyment and an over-all astounding experience.
But unfortunately, the sometimes annoying camera and rarely repetitive environments mixed with a lack of platforming tend to make this game just shy of a 9. I give it an 8/10.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/27/03, Updated 10/28/03
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