Review by Falion

"The Castlevania franchise goes in a bold new direction"

Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is the first game from the franchise to appear on Playstation 2, and the first IGA-produced 3D entry. The last four Castlevania games have all been 2D, with the focus on exploration, rather than action. LoI is quite different than many fans were expecting it to be. To see how it is different, let's move on with the review.

Story: 10/10
LoI easily has the best story I've seen yet in a Castlevania game(the story seems to just get better with each new entry). There are cut-scenes of significant length, and the characters actually have realistic motivations. LoI is ''the'' definitive origin of the Belmont clan, explaining why the Belmonts are destined to battle the undead, as well as revealing what is so damn special about that whip...

Graphics: 9/10
The graphics and animation are well-polished, to say the least. Leon looks awesome as he flips around the room, performing various acrobatic maneuvers. The enemies all look very impressive as well, with countless varieties of monsters and menacing bosses.

Sound: 10/10
The music is composed wonderfully, and will easily give you goose-bumps. If you received a sampler music CD with this game, consider yourself lucky. The sound effects are perfect, as every room is full of wailing ghosts, moaning zombies, and various other grotesque noises.

Gameplay: 8/10
Gameplay is definitely the toughest area to judge this game on. First of all, you don't have to go through the five main stages in any particular order. You do not receive experience or grow stronger from defeating enemies, so all of the stages are basically equally challenging.

The combat system is very well thought-out. As you progress, you learn different button combinations that are rewarded depending on your fighting style. There are two different attack buttons: one for light attacks and one for heavy attacks, and Leon will perform different moves depending on which combination of attacks you use.

Although combat is fun in LoI, it can grow tedious, mostly due to uninspired level design. While the backgrounds look incredible, it's easy to get tired of the ''narrow hallway-square room'' combination. Run through a deserted hallway, enter a large room full of enemies, clear them out, and repeat the whole process. With no way of gaining experience from defeating enemies, you'll shortly find yourself running right by enemies that you aren't forced to defeat. This is a minor qualm, but considering that the focus of the game is on action, rather than exploration, it would've been nice to have some more incentive for defeating enemies.

Overall: 9/10
Technically, LoI is near-perfect, but the gameplay is just a little rough around the edges. All in all, I'm glad that the Castlevania series is going in a new direction, and I personally can't wait to see the next 3D entry in this incredible franchise.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/27/03

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