Review by Gandalf685

"Why Lament when this game is so great?"

From the time I was a small lad of about five years old I was playing Castlevania. I remember the sense of adventure, danger and even lurking horror at the thought of facing Count Dracula and his minions of evil. So when I heard there was a new Castlevania for me to test my bravery against I was thrilled! And let me be the first to tell you the reader that Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is one of the best games of the year. While there are some areas that take some getting used to every aspect of this title shines and flows smoothly.

Story 10/10 - This has to be the greatest strength of Lament of Innocence. The story of Leon Belmont, knight turned vampire hunter and hero, will completely draw you in and will not let go! It all begins in the eleventh century with a knight named Leon Belmont and the disappearance of his love. His best friend informs him of the sinister figure that has kidnapped her and where the monster dwells. Leon must muster all of his courage and face the unspeakable evil to save his true love. That is only the beginning though, because as the game unfolds and progresses so does the story with twists and turns that will keep the player on the edge of their seat.

Graphics 10/10 - The graphics are some of the best I have seen on the PS2 in a long time. The characters and enemies are very nicely rendered and the variations of whips are a great plus. The sub weapons are great and very interesting to see them in use. There are so many ways to use the sub weapons as a matter of fact that I don’t believe they can ever grow old. The only problem in this section that I have noticed is that sometimes Leon’s legs will occasionally go through his cape thing that he wears. But in combat I can almost guarantee that you won’t even notice this and I only noticed it in a save room. If its slowdown, game lags or freeze ups you’re wondering about, I have logged many hours and have yet to see any of the above.

Sound 10/10 –Music sets the mood no matter what and Lament does not disappoint on this critical front. The music in this title always fits to the moment in the game whether it’s in a room full of ghosts, in an epic boss battle or even in a save room. I even found the music at the load menu enjoyable. Music isn’t the only sounds in game though and with out descent sound effects the game comes off as pretty lame. The noises you hear in the castle are simply wonderful! From footsteps, to the sound of Leon’s whip cracking and Leon’s and his enemies’ cries, all are presented beautifully! There is also some great voice work in Lament. So overall the sound is great and will not disappoint.

Atmosphere 10/10 –Castlevania Lament of Innocence is supposed to take place many years ago in the middle ages sometime in the eleventh century so the environment should represent such. The castle that Leon must explore is beautifully detailed and seems very realistic, but I can’t tell you that for sure (I mean how often are we in a vampire’s castle fighting monsters with a whip?). The effects that certain seemingly unimportant things play upon setting the mood for the vampire hunter’s quest is a very nice touch. I loved the way that the light from the candle stands cast shadows upon the aging stone walls of the halls and rooms. Every room has some personality and gives the feeling of being in a time long ago. Many players complain though, that many of the rooms look similar and become bland after seeing them so many times. It’s true that many of the room’s designs and layouts are used over and over. But, I always thought castles had a certain degree of symmetry to them. So if you look at it like that then it would make sense that many of the rooms look alike. Another thing that adds the feeling that this actually takes place in the eleventh century is the armor and weaponry. The weaponry and armor of the creatures that are encountered provides a very medieval feel.

Control 9/10 –The control in Lament is pretty much flawless. There are however a few small problems that keep it from being definitely flawless. The first that comes to mind is the camera can give you some trouble with the angles it sometimes views from. There are occasions where you know an enemy is in a hall but you can’t see them until the view is straightened out. This often leads to cheap damage to Leon. It can also be frustrating to use the whip for precise jumps. Aside from that the control flows. Combos are simple enough to pull off and the item system is simple enough to pick up on really quickly.

Overall 9/10 –While the rest of the game is so close to perfection that the lines become blurred the minor control issues bring the quality down a notch. Not enough that I wouldn’t recommend you to not buy it or at least rent it, but at least be ready to get used to the camera views. Lament of Innocence lives up to the standard set by Symphony of the Night and in my opinion surpasses it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/29/03

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