Review by Vesperas

"A great action game that kept its original values"

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is one of the many incarnations of the Castlevania series to this date. It takes on the third dimension unlike most of its predecessors. Let me break it down for you.

Game play
Castlevania is an action/adventure game, with a few minor role playing elements mixed into play. You are Leon Belmont, a vampire hunter in a large castle. You play this game from a sort of 3D sky view, with an unmovable camera. This may seem bad since you can not change your view when you want to, but amazing it never once hung up on me or caused me a real problem... Its prefect unless enemies are in front of you, has it will not pan to them.

You move, in this game, like most any other 3D platform out there. Move the analog stick... and that is you will be going. This game doesn’t feature the “Hold in the stick and keep going” movements of Devil May Cry so you will double back once the camera swoops around. Jumping in this game is also easy to perform; you even have a double jump right from the start. Dodging is not only fundamental but fun and easy to pull off, especially once the “Double Quick Step” is unlocked. There is only part about the moving aspect that will give you some problems, most likely you will have trouble with “Whip Jumping.” This is an Indiana Jones type whip hook to a horizontal pull that will let you jump a little farther. It is easy to tell when you need it... just annoying sometimes when you must do it 12 times in a row.

The combat in Castlevania has never been this deep, in fact, I do not think I played a platform/adventure game with as much stuff as you can do in here. Leon’s choice of weapon is the whip, you may already know the importance of this whip through out the whole series. There are many combos that can be done, whether it is a mix of strong and light hits or a strung together air combo into a downward flaming kick. Leon may also block incoming attacks very easily or take various evasive methods that include back flipping and jumping. There is also added fun with the use of various relics and sub weapons. Relics are your preset spells so to speak, but are used in a very unique manner... You gain Magic Points only by blocking and Relics are always activated and the effects last until you want it to stop or run out of juice. Sub weapons are one of five special weapons that require hearts. Sub weapons and hearts can be found in candle stands throughout the castle and include throwing knifes and bottles of holy water.

Enemies in this game will keep you interested long into this game. With well over eighty enemies which include the famous skeletons and zombies, newly redone in 3D. Although the enemies are designed well, they do lack variety... many enemies are the same, just with a different looking shield, shade of color, and title in the name. This really makes the game a hassle to complete of full item list... since there will be 3 skeletons of the same type in different levels.

One saving grace to the enemy selection are the boss rounds. The boss fights do not only present a very good challenge and have a great atmosphere while fighting them, most of them have a great story to go with the fight as well. Some bosses include very strong magically enhanced vampires, a stoning Medusa, and even Death himself. After most bosses you defeat, you will receive an orb that lets you boost the power of your sub weapons, so killing them is very essential.

This game is not a full castle like most of the previous Castlevania games. You start in the main hall basically and get to choose from five different levels from the beginning. Since this game lacks leveling up, it does not matter which order you go as they are all around the same difficulty. Each of these levels has a boss that you must kill to receive an orb. After you obtain five of these orbs you may move on to a harder version of the castle. This game also has a currency and a shop, this adds a little more depth.

The game play is definitely better than in any Castlevania game I have play to this date.
Good

Challenge
Let me start off by saying I believe this game as a perfect balance of difficulty.

You start off this game with minimal equipment, eventually finding things to hell you on your way. However, unlike the popular, and much easier Castlevania, Symphony of the Night, you do not level up in this game. This may not seem good at first, but now you must actually work on your tactics to survive instead of just keep returning to a room to gain some experience.

The regular enemies display some difficulties, since you can not just leave newly explored rooms without bashing a few heads in. Although some rooms can get ridiculously packed to the brim, you can always avoid death by having a good strategy, since just hacking and slashing (if this is even possible with a whip) will get you killed... fast.

Bosses are very fun and very challenging. I had fun getting raped by a boss the first time I would fight them, then coming back with a plan and winning. This game will always keep you alert and on your toes, unlike Castlevania: SotN.

Exploring this castle is easier than most adventure games, which is good since getting lost in an action game will have you flipping out. The only hard part about looking around would be finding different colored keys... which are all optional any ways.

Now the game may seem a little easy to hardcore gamers that smoke through this game without dying a lot... but this game’s saving grace is “Crazy” mode. So what does Crazy mode do? Well first off you start with lower stats and your sub weapons take %50 more hearts than before. Enemies are now more numerous and stronger ones replace the preset weaker ones in as early as the first room with a fight. Also, bosses are either faster, much stronger, or do new things... In other words, this mode is no cakewalk.

The challenge factor in this game is just right, no matter what type of game you are, you will have fun.
Outstanding

Control
This game’s control scheme and execution is perfectly done, nothing I would really change.

There are no annoying combinations to pull off in this game, except maybe a combo... but if that were easy, the game would be too easy with no balance. Nothing if preformed badly either. If you press a button, you are dam sure to do its function.

The greatest part is the “Real Time” actions. You cannot change an item or use an item via the pause menu. Want to change a whip? You must hit over on the direction pad to pan over to it... Relics and Orbs get there own quick windows for change, which can be a godsend sometimes.

The controls have no real flaws, they are nearly perfect.
Outstanding

Story
This is another very good part of this game. This story is not only complex and well done, it is also very important to practically every Castlevania game out there. You see, Leon Belmont is not only a Belmont, but also the very first Belmont. This drama depicts the ways he obtains his “Vampire Killer” whip and why exactly do the Belmonts despise Vampires and Dracula.

This epic takes place in an age with feudal lords and knights. Two friends stuck out at this time period... Leon Belmont a courageous knight and a genius tactician named Mathias Cronqvist. Mathias then returned from a campaign he had just won only to find that his wife, Elisabetha death. He proved to be softy and was bed ridden with his sadness as Leon ran the company. Then the appearance of monsters and demons became most frequent. Leon then finds out that his betrothed (which will be used about forty times throughout the game) Sara Trantoul is missing and her disappearance is related to the monsters showing up. Leon must find and rescue his fiancée in a solo attempt since the church focuses its time all fighting Crusades with heathens rather than help slay monsters.

Leon rushes (armless) into the forest “Eternal Night” which beloves the master of the castle and is eternally dark... Walter Burnhard, who is also the same person who took you love, Sara.

The story up from there develops pretty good and in large amounts. On your way to the castle before you even enter the threshold, you meet a man, Rinaldo Gandolfi. Rinaldo is an old man with a store at the end of the road in front of the castle. His background is unknown and his character is cloudy, but he tries to help you by selling you items. He also tells you many valuable things and that Walter made is castle in the way that which it is like a game... and that this whole kidnapping is also a game to him.

This story blows most stories out of the water, it is just so well done and very dramatic... you might even cry at some parts.
Outstanding

Visuals
First off, not only are the graphics in this adventure great, but they are better than any Castlevania game to date. The graphics are simply amazing, from the way Leon’s hair is done to how the bottom of his robe moves whiles you walk.

All the characters are full with detail, there is no generic characters in this game. The enemies look fantastic... right from the moment you see the first skeleton crawl out of its purple and black mist. Then they pop out, and they are seriously the best looking skeletons I have ever seen. Every other monster is very detailed, from hooded ghosts and gigantic ogres. The bosses look excellent as well.

The backgrounds, rooms, and hallways are very detailed themselves, from light creeping in from windows and rippling water. You will also love the sight of swinging axes and various spike traps.

But with all these good sayings... the level design just is not that great. Once you step in your first room, mostly every big room in that level will look like it. Then you trip a stroll to a hallway... every hallway will look almost like this too. If that’s not bad, turn on your map... it looks like this, square rectangle square rectangle square. This really hurts the game, since you can pass a rounded hallway with a loin spiting out water like twenty times in one level.

Bottom line, the graphics kick ass, but the level design hurts this game pretty badly, otherwise the visuals would have been perfectly done.
Good

Audio
I’m sort of at a mix in the music and sound department. The background music is astounding. Seriously, this game displays one of the best playing tunes I have heard in a while. It is also keeps its originally up... with the techno beat of an anti-soul laboratory to the dramatic tempo of a defiled church, the music is just that great that you will probably fall in love with. Another good quality is the boss music, all the bosses themes are all different and exciting, hell, and a secret character even gets a classic theme!

Now a type of music they kind of let go on... the generic battle music. It, plain and simply, isn’t great at all. The tunes are rather annoying, even all of them are... I don’t know why... But the best parts of these tunes are when they fade out to the standard background music.

The sound effects on the other hand are superb. Your whip’s crack never could have sounded better! Every thing great, including knives getting flung into armor and even you getting killed!

Then the never part... voices. It isn’t that it is bad voice acting in general... it is just that they don’t sound like real people at some times.

“I’m Leon, and you are Rinaldo, you can call me Leon and I will call you Rinaldo.”

See what I mean? Any ways, the background music and the odd voice acting hurt this category a bunch.
Average

Re Playability
This I believe is the best part about this game. First off, the game is freaking huge, bigger than Devil May Cry 1+2 and Shinobi put together! This game as a total of about seven real levels, all of which are huge! Each level has a couple of secrets in them and can require a lot of time to complete. On average, the game can take about fourteen to eighteen hours to complete... and that’s if you do not get all the secrets and 100% map completion.

Another good quality is if you go item hunting in the game. There are about 65 or so enemies that drop items... some a common and a rare it can take you a while to get them all thus this game will last you much longer.

Another part is the secret modes. After you beat the game you get to put in secret names to do different things... One of them is Joachim, which will let you play as a psychokinetic vampire with five obeying mind swords. Another is playing as a powerful puny pumpkin that makes funny noises. And finally the best, crazy mode... in which the difficulty pumps up sky high.

This game is perfect in this area, the only thing they could of did to make it even better would be to add a third difficulty level.
Outstanding

Pros
Long game
Lots of enemies
Very deep combat with a whip
Real time combat
No wimpy graphics
Good and deep story
Great background music

Cons
Many repetitive rooms and areas
Most enemies are palette/costume swaps
Bad battle themes VS Non-Boss enemies
Money and stat system could have been just a tad deeper

Rent or Buy
This game is a most buy for any fans of Castlevania and action games alike. If you loved the original Devil May Cry (Not the second one) then consider this game just a tad bit less action packed with more story, depth, and a longer play through.

Final Rating
This game is a nine in my book. Even though I bash the background music a bit, this isn’t that important... The only real bad thing about this game is the use of the same room and hallway sixteen times in a single level. Otherwise, this game is pure classic.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/14/04


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