Review by jennafaith1

Reviewed: 10/30/06

I'll drive a stake through my own heart if I have to run down another boring hallway!

Castlevania Curse of Darkness is the second Castlevania game to come out for the PS2. While the last game was actually quite good, it lacked some of the roleplaying elements that made Symphony of the Night so great. Curse of Darkness tries to fill those gaps by offering level up progressions and a new feature where you can evolutionize these familiars to aid you on your quest. This sounds good on paper but a number of low budget production values and shortcuts by the programmers make this Castlevania game a boring and an annoying experience.

STORY 6/10: You play as Hector, a former devil forger who quit the business after falling for a human girl. Issac whom is also a devil forger is poised to resurrect Dracula and kills your girl. So you go on a revenge adventure. The story in itself is not that bad but the cinematics are low budget and look rather rushed. You can totally see the difference between the great intro CG and the crap they put in the game. Anyways, the story is predictable since it has been done in every game of this genre before. There are no surprises here and even the best scenes in the game are just on par with average scenes in better games like Devil May Cry. Sad, but unfortunately true.

GRAPHICS 7/10: The first thing you will notice in this game is that Hector is animated quite well and resembles Alucard quite a bit. However, the compliments end there. You traverse the castle and every hallway looks exactly the same. The map is the only way you know where you are going. The last Castlevania game had a lot of similar looking hallways too, but that game was much more entertaining. Since the combat in this game is not too engaging, the backgrounds begin to draw your attention and punish it with endless boring repetitive hallways. I mean they are really PLAIN and BORING! I hate to dwell on this but I really have to warn you. It started out as a minor nuisance and then turned into pure rage as the levels got even more plain and boring. The only cool background in the whole game are in the rooms where you get an Innocent Devil. These rooms have that endless abyss background with some rocks floating around and seem to actually have a pulse. Moving on, the enemies themselves are classic Castlevania. You have your skeletons and death knights which are nothing fancy but do the job. The bosses in this game are pretty lame. There is no surprising detail or originality, and they aren't very big. Even the, "secret super evil boss" is a cheap blue blob devoid of any detail. I mean, if your toughest boss looks like a humanoid marshmallow, you KNOW this game is struggling for ideas. Another problem this game has is the camera. It's rather close to the character and limits your field of vision. When fighting near walls, the camera starts to jump around chaotically. You can control the camera but since you can't zoom out, the game tends to make you dizzy at times. Overall, this game follows a formula that is starting to show it's age. This game may have been good at the launch of the PS2 but simply cannot hack it against better games or even its predecessor, Castlevania: Lament of Innocence.

MUSIC/SOUND: 7/10: Castlevania has always had good music and this game has it as well. The songs are pretty good but lack any real punch. They seem rather tame and unfortunately make those hallways look even longer. The voices themselves are done well and everyone acts out their part pretty nicely. The soundeffects are standard hack and slash. Overall, the sound is good but still doesn't try to achieve more than an average score.

GAMEPLAY 8/10: This game has a decent combat system that allows you to perform chain combos with different weapons. Different weapons have different speeds and each yields a different color jem for your Innocent Devil to eat and evolve. So you can feed your Innocent Devil all red jems and give him fire abilities or feed him blue jems and get him ice techniques. Either way, the devil gets stronger. The combat itself is good but not great. You can block and dodge and perform decent attacks. Overall, the combat tends to get dull since Hector simply doesn't have any stylish or punishing moves that make you feel sorry for that enemy. It's all rather tame and reserved. The game scrolls nicely and there is no slowdown. Everything works well together but the camera tends to become erratic near walls. Hector also runs rather slowly and since the levels are so large, you tend to rally dread backtracking if there is no warp zone nearby. There is also this mini game where you find different types of chairs. You sit in them and this counts toward your completion. However, there is no bonus to this feature so there is no incentive to even care. Overall, Curse of Darkness has solid gameplay but lacks any flare to it's presentation.

FUNFACTOR 4/10: I played this game all the way through expecting something to make it worthwhile, but I was progressively more disappointed as the game dragged(and I mean DRAGGED) on. Every area was repetitive and dull, the combat was dull, the bosses were dull, the story was dull...
It was just a long boring game! I would level up but it only gave me more hitpoints. No new technique, no new ability, nothing; Just more repetitive boring hallways!! The high point of the game was the, "tower of evermore" and the "tower of forever", which are one hundred levels of pure combat with no save points. Still this game never really achieved more than an average gaming experience.

OVERALL 6/10: Curse of Darkness is a budget game by Konami, and it shows. Everything is mediocre and unfortunately achieves nothing new or even above average. Decent but dull combat combined with ridiculously boring level design made this game a lousy sequel in a superb franchise. Castlevania really deserves better. I tried to like it but it simply is too lame to recommend. Try Castlevania: Lament of Innocence or simply rent this game.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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