Review by Megaman1981
"75 reviews later.....and I still love the Castlevania series."
Castlevania is one of the oldest game series in the history of gaming. The series became an instant hit with the original Castlevania on the NES. Many sequels later, Castlevania arrived for the first time in 3D on the N64. While not an instant success, the game sold well enough for a sequel. I played all of the original games on the NES, Castlevania Chronicles, the two N64 Castlevania's, Symphony of the Night, and I will invest in the Curse of Darkness when it comes out for the PS2 in a few weeks. It's somewhat sad that the Castlevania series is no longer on the Nintendo console market, but I'm glad that they still made Castlevania: Lament of Innocence for the PS2. It's not a 2D game like Symphony of the Night, but it is instead a 3D game modeled like the Devil May Cry series.
The gameplay in Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is not like Symphony of the Night. There are no RPG elements anywhere to be seen. Instead the game is modeled after the earlier Castlevania games. Your character must get from point A to point B, and then defeat the level boss. The basic weapon system has your character either have a whip, (or a sword if you play the unlockable character games) as your main weapon. You are also allowed to carry a sub-weapon such as an axe, holy water, knife, and cross. There really aren't any platform elements to this game. It's basically a beat em up style game. I must also add that the game isn't that difficult at the beginning, but some of the later stages are pretty tough. Also, some of the later boss battles are very difficult (just wait until you see Death). All in all, the game has a medium level of difficulty.
The story was well planned out. It features Leon Belmont, the first Belmont ever to battle against Dracula. In fact, this game tells exactly why the Belmont's and Dracula are such mortal enemies. Leon however, is only a highly ranking knight at first. However, his fiance Sara is kidnapped. His best friend, bedridden Mathias Cronqvist, tells Leon that Sara has been taken away by a vampire named Walter, who lives in a forest known as the Eternal Night, and is the holder of the legendary artifact known as the Crimson Stone. Unable to convince the church to lend him help, he gives up his sword and his title to find Sara himself. Upon entering the evil forest, Leon comes across a mysterious old man named Rinaldo, who gives Leon a whip enchanted with the power of alchemy. I must say that the story is well written, but sadly the meat of the story is finally told only at the end of the game. Not much is told during the early parts of the game, but it still does tie up the Castlevania series nicely at the end.
I think that the graphics are the best ever seen in a Castlevania game. While each environment is very similar, it doesn't take away the fact that those environments are still beautiful to look at. The best looking stage has to be the Ghostly Theatre. The music was composed by the same person that made Symphony of the Night. It's well done, but a few familiar Castlevania themes like Vampire Killer would have been nice.
There are some small problems with the game. First, I think that the stages are very repetitive. Not only that, but it is way too easy to get lost in the stages. The game is also a bit on the short side, but that isn't that big of a deal. The camera issue for the N64 games was addressed for this game but, there are a few platform elements in the game. Sometimes the camera locks up, and you can't see where you are jumping to. I also wish the story was spread out better, and not thrown at you at the end of the game.
The game does offer some incentive to play threw it again. First there is a boss rush mode, as well as a hard mode. Not all that interesting huh? Well, there are also two unlockable characters, Joachim and Pumpkin. While Joachim is simply a vampire out for revenge, Pumpkin is a sack with a pumpkin on his head. He uses a whip, and hums a cool little tune. It goes well with his homicidal grin. There is also a nice sound test to unlock as well. While I did say that the game was short, that isn't a bad thing. Because it's so short, you'll want to play it over and over because it doesn't take a lot of time to complete.
In conclusion, I do believe that every PS2 owner would like this game. It isn't that expensive anymore, plus anyone that likes Devil May Cry would like this game. Of course, I still thought the N64 Castlevania games were slightly better, but that's only my opinion. I still think that Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is a fantastic game, one that should be owned by all PS2 owners. It's a nice game to keep you occupied until Curse of Darkness comes out in a few weeks. I highly advise anyone who enjoys the Castlevania games to pick this game up.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 10/19/05, Updated 09/18/06
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