Review by SXITH
"My Own Laments Scream at the Lacking Essentials Which Made SotN So Grand"
I marvel at Konami. They sought the bravery to live up to what PS1’s Castlevania: Symphony of Night has left behind. They are just plain gutsy. If this kind of creation were to be in my hands, I would feel the ricochet of a hand grenades splinter everything within my stomach. Konami’s reattempt of a 3D landmark not only has to confront the magnitude of SotN, but the latest and greatest GBA installments. If that weren’t enough to degrade their morale, the bitter memory of N64’s Castlevania still reeks the air. With the overwhelming odds hurling against them, I am not surprised that the label who brought you such established titles as Metal Gear Solid and Suikoden, fight back to liberate themselves from their once, horrible Castlevania past. Yet, do they forge a hit? In the words of your casual gamer, most definitely. However, as a fellow fan of SotN and wholly valuing the RPG ingredients, Lament of Innocence simply gets the job done. To say the most, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is upgraded to the third dimension, and contends to be a slick hack-and-slash. However, the lacking RPG elements which made SotN and Aria of Sorrow so grand, leaves me grief-stricken.
Lament of Innocence is the preface of all Castlevania games that have come and gone. Leon Belmont and his friend, Mathias, screen the lands of all that is evil. On such a night, Mathias finds out his wife unexpectedly dies. Plagued by grief, Mathias is unable to bring up his weapon. Next, an invasion of unknown ghouls raid the land. Leon, strictly ordered not to engage the demons, can only watch until he discovers his love is missing. Leon discovers that she is taken in a mysterious castle owned by legions of the undead and Dracula himself. Leon, furious, goes against directives not to dispute the matter, and launches into the Eternal Forest and sets foot in the castle alone. He must now crush the Count with his great big whip (no pun intended)! As the plot thickens, a number of things are explained, and it does a very good job. My minor protest leans toward the lackluster lines from the cut scenes, one reason why I can‘t fully immerse myself into Japanese Anime. A deftly crafted environment of gothic horrors, Lament of Innocence delivers a reasonable story of thwarting evil.
The fundamentals which made Castlevania a franchise before SotN is back, bigger, and badder. If you already manifested an impression from N64’s attempt, forget it. But if you, like myself, have fallen for SotN and the Aria of Sorrow, a different genre altogether, I can’t blame you if you breathe fire. It lacks the depth I have grown accustomed to. Don’t let it utterly dissuade you though, because Lament of Innocence is very gratuitous to barrel through. Instead of the multitude of weapons before, the trusty whip takes its rightful role, as you are given the opportunity to slay the endless tide of nasties. Whether you like it or not, Lament of Innocence is a hack-and-slash. You advance from room to room, defeat enemies in every corner, gain items to win passage, and fight gigantic bosses along your merry way. Interesting enough, there is a new control set up than previous games. Leon is given the line up of weak and strong attacks, jumps, the traditional sub-weapons (crosses, axes, daggers, etc.), blocking, and dodging. The difficulty climbs as you progress further into the game, enemies are unbeatable until you bring special combos into the battle. Leon is awarded with abilities as he explores the castle’s many rooms. No leveling up, you are upgraded with more combos and scant magic, which is entirely of no use in the game. You can also equip a minute digit of armor, capes, relics, and weapons. Orbs are also thrown in to aid Leon. They imbue special powers to the secondary weapons. Somehow, despite the 3D that surrounds the game, Lament of Innocence closely plays as 2D trapped in a 3D world. The action is unrelenting, in your face with awesome enemies and menacing bosses. Blocking enemy strikes is fun as the intensity of the game arises. Frequent are your save points, and the bosses are not a letdown. As usual, they offer their challenging, creative methods of annihilating. Also there are a nice variety of monsters, who’ll whoop your butt a couple of times. Your venture will take you over excellent level composition and some eye-brow arching puzzles. Gushing with countless rooms, the game is brilliant in its artistry and genuinely merits the ambiance of a Castlevania game.
The unpleasant side of the game is mainly contributed to the terrible camera. A nuisance, the camera is held in weird angles while in battle and jumping on some platforms. During heated battles, the monsters can obscure your view of Leon as you try to hack your way through the packs of whatever. Other times the camera is slow and bogs you from keeping up with Leon. I can’t help but feel that Konami rushed the game so it can hit stores before Halloween. These camera glitches can setback the game. Other than the camera flaw and the realization that Lament of Innocence doesn’t hold up to SotN’s substance, it does conquer the realm of 3D rather finely. As far as dungeon crawlers, it is very satisfying.
Booming with quality and bleeding with gothic style, its rewarding to behold the surroundings. Enormously stuffed with nightmarish flair, the setting is detailed and artistically admirable. There is a plethora of different monster designs and objects furnishing room to room. The lighting effects are definitely worth gazing dumbly at, and the number of enemies and special effects on screen keep up with you as you hack, hack, and hack through them. The white spheres that explode on impact look extremely awesome. Slowdown doesn’t arise from the occasion, if anywhere to be found. Leon himself looks impressive, and definitely stands out from the demons as the protagonist. Enemies thoroughly string up grotesque exquisiteness, not to mention the imposing bosses. Dark and gritty, Dracula’s castle is gothic and worth taking a nice, long stare at.
One of the most striking traits of SotN was the clever soundtrack. The original composer returns and delivers the goods. Working with an assortment of instruments, composing industrial music, and a choir to back it up is absolutely moving. Lament of Innocence strives to be amongst the most memorable soundtracks ever, period. The situations are coupled together with the melodies, each track of music is properly thrown in. Sound effects are executed in precise perfection with the snapping whip and the assaults Leon and his enemies lob at each other. Despite the awful lines in the cut scenes, the voiceovers suitably fit the appearance of each character. Plus, like Symphony of the Night, you can play the disc on a stereo and listen to the impossibly beautiful soundtrack.
Castlevania: Lament of Innocence outlines itself to master 3D. It grants plenty of old-fashioned, kill everything in sight enjoyment. And who doesn’t love that? Furthermore, just listen to the music! It’s probably one of the best soundtracks ever conceived in a videogame. Concluding the game are hidden extras, new characters, and different difficulty settings. Pumping with eye-candy, a powerful musical score, and top-notch speedy action, this game amounts to a reputable Castlevania installment. I may have my own laments of the missing RPG construction, but this has to be the beginning of something superb. Future Dracula-hunting, may yet find its way into the magic that is Symphony of the Night.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/27/03
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