Review by Fady Kiriakides

" The first step in taking castlevania to the 3D world is revolutionary"

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence
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Introduction
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Ever since 1986, the Castlevania series were almost everywhere. From the NES to the PC engine, From the Gameboy
to the Gameboy advance, from Sega Genesis to Sega Saturn, from Playstation to Playstaion 2. You name it. One thing Castlevania is known for is the 2D bliss it has given gamers over a decade now. This time however, the talent that brought you what is arguably the best Castlevania ever, Symphony of the Night, bring you a 3D iteration. The results? Simply beautiful. Many, including myself, thought that Castlevania in 3D cant be done right, but after Lament of Innocence, it becomes a realization that this is the start of something new and something fresh. Dont lament yourself and miss out on this great game. Read on for more...

Gameplay
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The most important aspect of all games should usually be the gameplay, and in LoI, it is, thankfully, done right. The biggest emphasis is on combat, and its very complex, as there are many skills at your disposal, as well as 7 orbs that you mix up with one of the five sub weapons you use throughout the game, resulting in 35 different and special moves that will help you out on your journey.

The game's controls are some of the most fluid controls you will find in any action game, ever. This game controls just as smooth, say, Capcom's Devil May Cry, and thats saying a lot. The controls have a 3D structure, tilt the analog up, and the protagonist, Leon, is up. In other words, the game controls responsively, like a dream.

The game provides enough challenge as well. The games difficulty is balanced so perfectly. One room youd be battling skeletons that are so easy and then in the next you would find more serious trouble. Many enemies have different weaknesses and different moves and theres over 75 enemies in the game. The bosses are challenging and memorable too. They all have patterns you must recognize in order to kill. A perfect balance between easy and hard.
So the difficulty is JUST right.

Story
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As a major castlevania fan, i must admit that no Castlevania had one really captivating story, though Symphony of the Night was better than all. LoI, however, is something fresh off the start. For the first time, theres a good story underneath a Castlevania.

You play as Leon Belmont, a knight who is known for his courage and nobility in his land, along with his best friend, Mathias Cronquist, who is very literate and a smart tactician and military strategist. Both are bound by a strong friendship. One day however, after the heat of a battle, Mathias comes back to find his wife Elisabetha very ill. Eventually, she dies, and Mathias breaks down. A year later, Leon's town gets invaded by monsters and his fiancee Sara Trantoul is kidnapped in the process. So, it all sounds simple as usual, the guy saves his girl from evil, right? Wrong.

This time, there are many twists and turns that i will leave for you, the player, to find out for yourself. This int your typical Castlevania story, its a story thats very well written, and does explain the beginning of castlevania altogether to some extent, so if you are new to castlevania, that shouldnt bother you at all, as this is a great place to start. Pick this up (and dont forget Symphony of the Night!!!), and enjoy.

The story for the first time, is presented in neat and wonderful 3D cutscenes (obviously), and the voice overs are top notch from top to bottom. They are actually convincing and beleivable. The characters are likeable, too.

Graphics
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The graphics in Lament of Innocence are very smooth and fluid just like the controls. The areas look great in the game, however, this is where the major grope of the games comes, many rooms are repetitive, and thats simply what holds Castlevania LOI from being the ultimate 3D Castlevania (so far that is...). But still, the areas are detailed very nicely. The character animations are very, very smooth. So are the enemy animations. Of course, there's room for improvement in the graphics department, but honestly - theyre very, very good.

Sound
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Castlevania is known for its good music, and Lament of Innocence is no exception. In fact, Lament of Innocence's music rivals the soundtrack of Symphony of the Night. The music consists of many tunes that come from the piano, and many techno-trance tunes. Even if none of those are up your alley, the music is so perfect for this game. Id go as far as to say that Lament of Innocnece deserves Soundtrack of the year for 2003. Its that good. It does come from the honorable musician Michiru Yamane, known for her superb Symphony of the Night soundtrack. And as a bonus, you can unlock the entire soundtrack after beating the game once.

The Sound effects are spectacular and short of nothing. Everything sounds accurate and stylish, to say the least.

The voice overs, as mentioned, are top notch, and are convincing and beleivable.

Play time / Replayability
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The length of this game is no longer than 10 hours (or around that). However, 10 hours was never a short length for an action game - Metal Gear Solid games, Devil May Cry, and such usually can be finished in the same length. However, it is one heck of a memorable 10 hours.

Replayability? Oh yes. Defenitely. With a harder difficulty setting, 2 playable characters (with different moves), 3 hidden bosses, 2 hidden orbs, hidden relics, hidden rooms, hidden items, an unlockable soundtrack - Castlevania is packed to the punch with replayablity.

Final Word
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Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is certainly the first step in taking Castlevania 3D (despite the N64 games), however, it proves that Castlevania can be done right. Konami would know about the repetitiveness from the rooms and will hopefully be addressed. However, with a fair length, more secrets than you can shake a stick at, sweet graphics, smooth controls, a likeable camera, good looking and sinister characters, great voice overs and a spectacular soundtrack (and a great box art :) ), you should give Castlevania: Lament of Innocence a chance.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/15/04, Updated 01/16/04


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