Review by Allyourbase

"A good game on its own merits"

Here it is, the wait is over. Castlevania finally returns to home consoles with the latest installment in the fabled series, ''Lament of Innocence.'' It's been six years since ''Symphony of the Night'' came out for the PS1. Since then, Castlevania fans have seen two subpar 3D games, one rehash for the PS1, and three GBA titles. To say Castlevania fans have been waiting a while is making a gross understatement. The wait's over, kids. And Dracula's soiled himself.

After the horrible experiences of 3D Castlevania called ''Castlevania 64'' and ''Legacy of Darkness'', it's easy to be wary of any more three-dimensional offerings. But thank your lucky stars. Koji ''IGA'' Igarishi has brought the team who made ''Symphony of the Night'' back to make the latest game. With that kind of cred, this game isn't going to disappoint.

So let me quell the naysayers and break down why I think ''Castlevania: Lament of Innocence'' is going to be a game no PS2 owner should be without.

The graphics are simply put, magnificent. These are the best PS2 graphics you're ever going to see. Ever. The backgrounds are vivid and detailed. Small details like moonlight coming in through windows aren't neglected. You'll want to spend a second or two just looking at how meticulously rendered each room is. Of course, it's a dark game so um... the rooms are kinda dark. You'll definitely want to play this one in the evening with the blinds drawn and the lights off. Combined with the fact a lot of rooms look alike, you won't find much else wrong with the grahpics.

With the same composer from ''Symphony'' running the show, the soundtrack for ''Lament'' is excellent. The background music does well to evoke many moods, from sorrow to dread to chaotic terror. In a way, the music creates a suspense that wasn't in previous Castlevania games. If you're walking down a hallway, fearing that you're going to run into some monsters, that scary music doesn't help to calm your nerves. I really have to find the soundtrack for ''Lament of Innocence'' on e-Bay.

Words can't describe how well this game plays. Leon Belmont is perhaps the most nimble and agile of all Castlevania protagonists. The controls seem daunting at first, but with a little practice (translation: 30 minutes), you'll have no problem vanquishing Dracula's minions or dodging their blows. The combat system is similar to ''Devil May Cry'' and you'll practically watch in awe as Leon lays out some stylish whip combos on evil.

Unlike previous Castlevanias, platforming takes a backseat to exploration and um... whipping stuff. That's not to say platforming has disappeared completely. You'll still be asked to make tough jumps from time to time. The game eschews some RPG elements combined with action. So while you won't get experience for killing a skeleton per se, Leon will grow and develop new skills throughout the game.

All in all, I'm completely blown away by ''Lament of Innocence.'' To compare it to ''Symphony of the Night'' would be foolish. Both games are good for entirely different reasons. Nontheless, you can distill both of these games into their essence and see that they both contain the things that make the Castlevania series distinct from any other action/adventure series.

To rent or to buy?
What kind of question is this??? Buy it, silly. You won't regret it. The end.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 10/27/03, Updated 11/14/08

Game Release: Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (US, 10/21/03)

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