Review by wolvevice
"Still needs some work but what there is its pretty good"
Curse of Darkness is the second Castlevania 3D entry for the PS2 and the first Castlevania for the X-box. This time it seemed that Konami added a lot of new features in gameplay while at the same time trying to convert the game style of a 2D Castlevania game into 3D. Someone who never played any of the recent 2D Castlevania games or Lament of Innocence (1st entry for the PS2) may not notice the difference but for people familiar with the series, they will notice this pretty quick. This is also the main reason for the game's minor to major flaws.
Graphically speaking the game is very good. All the areas you will go through look very nice but I wouldn't say entirely perfect. The characters however and their movements are excellent. There is perfect detail on all the characters and enemies while they move and attack and it would be a crime not to say that the artwork of the game and generally the visuals are flawless. As soon as you see any cutscene of the game you will be hard-pressed to disagree. Many of the combo attacks with the character's weapons and the special attacks of your Innocent Devil partners look great and the characters clothing definitely make you feel like you are in 1476. Sadly the two flaws of the game that affect the gameplay definitely hit the game visually as well. As good as the areas look throughout the game players will soon notice that almost every area looks alike and it's just hallways and hallways. Kind of like in 2D Castlevania games although in 3D, it really hurts. The game should have had wider areas and just hallways when it's necessary. I mean, in castle or a large building there are supposed to be hallways but they could have done some wider areas in places like mountains or forests. Even though the enemies are also detailed visually and in battle unfortunetely almost every original enemy has like three tougher clones with maybe different colors in artwork. So to put it simply there is a huge pacing issue in this game.
Veterans should know the drill by now. This game and every other Castlevania game has lovely, second to none music. The music fits the area you are and let me tell you there are some tunes you'll want to download as well. There is a variety of instruments in the tracks and honestly music is one of this game's main highlights. Sound effects are also done very well and the voice acting is great and very enjoyable. The characters also talk in a very Gothic way (in the English version at least) so again you get the feeling like you're in 1476.
The story of the game is pretty similar to any Castlevania game but just like the previous Castlevania game on PS2 and generally all the recent Castlevania games, shows some new depth. In this game instead of Dracula having just Death as his right hand man and some other similar boss monsters, leaders and generals etc. from previous games he also has two Devil Forgemasters. There are only two of them on the planet supposedly and they work for him as well. You play as Hector, one of the two Devil Forgemasters. Before the game actually begins you apparently betray Dracula and give up on your powers because you realize that Dracula is bad for wanting humans to die and go live a peaceful life with your beloved wife. Thanks to your betrayal Trevor Belmont and some other dudes kick Dracula's ass for the millionth time and he is sealed again. However 3 years later your wife gets killed and the other Devil Forgemaster, Isaac is to blame. You then get pissed and try to hunt him down and kill him. Isaac believes that Trevor was only successful in defeating them thanks to Hector's betrayal so he too wants revenge. Throughout the game a few more characters will be introduced and the story will definitely keep the player guessing in what's gonna happen and how things will play out because they did create some new story aspects' like the way Dracula has to be resurrected and stuff. The plot will get interesting and the voice acting is great but don't expect anything ULTRA epic like Jak 3 or Final Fantasy. But again it's good to see they made some differences and added new story aspects in comparison to previous games.
The gameplay. This is where they kind of messed up a little I think. The gameplay, as expected is running around fighting and killing monsters. This game is really about pure action and fighting. There is minimal platforming and puzzles, you just go around and kill monsters. Now, if this is good or bad, it all depends on what your preferences are. Unlike Lament of Innocence this game tries to follow the 2D side scrolling nature of Castlevania. You level up by killing enemies and you go from hallway to hallway killing many enemies along the way. Hector can equip a variety of weapons and armour and buy potions and other items from the merchant. Most of these aspects apply to the recent castlevania titles and even Lament of Innocence for that matter but there are some interesting new gameplay additions along the way. Starting with the crafting system. The enemies in this game will drop materials when you kill them instead of just regular items which you can combine with other materials and weapons to create new and different weapons and armour. With this feature, Hector will have a lot of weapons to choose from instead of just the whip Leon used in Lament of Innocence. These weapons have there own combos and different power, range and speed. They are categorized in swords, spears, knuckles and axes along with a category called special weapons which can be anything. Another new addition is the stealing system. Enemies and even bosses have items that you can steal when you're in lock on mode. These are usually rare materials, items and cash. You have to steal in precise moments and each enemy has their own moving and fighting pattern so stealing can be hard sometimes. The most notable addition to gameplay however are the Innocent Devils. It is your skill as a Devil Forgemaster to summon them and they are entirely loyal to you. They are kinda similar to Familiars in Symphony of the Night but with major differences. There are different types of them that can do specific things only their type can do. They also level up like Hector and depending on the type of weapon you are using they gain the color crystals in accordance to your weapon and evolve. There are many evolution chains you can follow and their skills and abilities depend on your way of fighting and the weapons you choose to use. They never die and their health and techniques are based on hearts. So even if one faints by collecting enough hearts you can revive it again. You can have about 5 or 6 with them with you kinda like pokemon but you can only summon one at the time and command it or let it fight on its own. The truth is unlike Symphony of the Night they do make the game A LOT easier and will help you no matter what, in the situation you are as long as they're alive.
The controls in general are not too shabby and they are similar to Lament of Innocence. The game doesn't have a fixed camera like its predecessor though which is great because it would really suck in this game since it has bigger areas. I suppose they could have given Hector something to move faster because depending on the person I have to admit it does get frustrating and boring when you're going through entire areas on foot. It didn't bother me TOO much but I know others would think differently about this issue. I suppose you don't make good use of the double jump since there is nearly no platforming but I don't think anyone will have major trouble with the controls and you can customize them anyway in the options menu.
Replay Value: 7/10
The game first of all is longer than the last one but that's mainly because of bigger areas and many more hallways plus Hector taking a long time to get passed them. You can play the game as Trevor once you finish the normal game which is a bit interesting if you haven't got bored with the hallways and stuff since he plays differently than Hector and you can also try Crazy mode if you thought the game was easy. The game also has some secret areas and hidden things that you'll have to do specific things like go with a specific Innocent Devil and such, but nothing really impressive but not too crappy either.
Overall Score: 8/10
I give this game an 8, I know some people would feel harsher with its issues and some wouldn't even care about them but overall the game is a nice addition to the Castlevania series. They still haven't perfected 3D Castlevania but it's still an okay game. I'd recommend this game to any Castlevania fan and to anyone that wants to play a Gothic game with a lot of fighting and RPG elements.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/28/11, Updated 01/10/14
Game Release: Castlevania: Curse of Darkness (US, 11/01/05)
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