Review by Darkslayne
"The beginning of a legend...but in 3d?"
Castlevania:Lament of Innocence is the first 3D Castlevania since the Nintendo 64 incarnations, which in my opinion, shouldn't even be Castlevania games.
Once more, you take up the role of a Belmont. This Belmont in particular is named Leon, former Baron and Knight. Leon is the Belmont that begins the Belmont clan on the path to battling Dracula and his many minions of evil.
The gameplay is typical of any 3d game. You have your standard range of attacks, guard and dodge. The attacks(whips) vary between weak and strong, gaining in strength through it's use of combinations that increase as you adventure along. The greater the combo's, typically the greater the damage. Weak attack is fast and allows you to chain a greater number of attacks, where strong is slower, allows a greater chance of counter attack and does normally fewer attacks, but greater damage. Coupling this, you have your standard array of weaponary from the previous games, being the dagger, holy water, crystal, cross, axe, etc etc. These are pretty similar to their prior incarnations, however this time you now have the ability to team these weapons with new magical orbs that can be collected in the game. By teaming these these together, you can unleash stronger attacks then you could using the weapon alone. Your magical attacks come in the form of magical artifacts that can be collected throughout the game, each giving different abilities and uses.
Besides the typical attacks, this Belmont comes standard with some new acrobatic skills. Straight from the start, he can double jump. Using jump and attack, you can perform a special attack towards the ground. Aside from jumping, Leon learns shortly into the game a sidestep technique, similar to Alucard's backdash ability. This version allows you to jump side to side and forward/back. Rather handy in tight knit groups of enemies since this is performed while guarding. Guarding allows you to shield yourself from damage, though you can only take so many attacks at once before the guard fails, simply reguard. The guard also allows you to earn magical points, used for your special attacks. Some enemies will emit a purple aura, demonstrating their soon to come special attack. By shielding yourself from this attack, you can absorb the magical energy as your own.
Graphically, the game doesn't take any giant leaps in any particular direction compared to many games currently available. However, it is graphically appealing, particularly if you stop to admire the scenery in the forms of many of the textures used on the scenes. The intricate detail in some of the wall/door patterns, paintings and window glass are very nice eye candy when you have time to stop and look around.
In my opinion, the weak point of the game. It has a habit of shifting when your in combat so you can't see your enemies. It makes it difficult to check out the room your in, as you don't have the option of a first person view. In otherwords, not only don't you have a first person view to look around, but you also have no control over which direction the camera currently faces. You will, especially as you back track around, find yourself running into the camera. While it can be annoying, the camera is useful in boss battles, as it tends to focus on a certain area giving you a good range view of your environment and the boss your combating.
You gain new insights to the Belmont Clan and their history, though it can at times leave more questions then answers. Will leave the story up to the individual, as this is an action platform game, the story isn't the game's strong point or main focus. Though I found it enjoyable, but will refrain from saying much to avoid spoiling much.
Overall, I believe the game is very solid and worth the play. Besides the typical secrets to be found, the game takes the series in a positive direction with its turn to 3d, though I prefer it on its 2d roots. If you were a fan of SoTN, there is a very good chance your like this. If you weren't, I'd suggest renting the game first to make sure it fits what your looking for.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/27/03
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