"As the only vidoegamer ever to openly state Castlevania 64 as one of the greatest videogames of all time, I was extremely excited to see this videogame series return to a 3D format. I mean, I love the collection of Castlevania games being released on the Gameboy Advance, but in my dreams I imagined Castlevania returning to the next generation systems, once again in that despised 3D formats. I purchased Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (hereby known as C:LOI) as soon as it released, and quickly e..."
As the only vidoegamer ever to openly state Castlevania 64 as one of the greatest videogames of all time, I was extremely excited to see this videogame series return to a 3D format. I mean, I love the collection of Castlevania games being released on the Gameboy Advance, but in my dreams I imagined Castlevania returning to the next generation systems, once again in that despised 3D formats. I purchased Castlevania: Lament of Innocence (hereby known as C:LOI) as soon as it released, and quickly enough I jumped into the game. I was expecting the next Castlevania 64, something that I would come to love like no other Castlevanias. I wasn't dissapointed, however I wasn't to ecstatic either.
The graphics were one thing that stood out to me more than anything else. The dark gloomy feeling reminded me of the well received Resident Evil games, as it was almost frightening. The enemies all looked realistic, and at times you could barely see them in the dark lighting. Now in many games that would definitely be a negative aspect. However, Castlevania is a series based in a dark castle inhabitant by creatures from the underworld. The darkness makes you think and search all the corners of the room to see the enemies.
The other thing about the graphics that I believe stand out is the camera control. The hardest thing about 3D platformers is to get a camera that actually works for the gamer. One of the greatest weaknesses in past Konami platformers was the camera fixing in on postitions which made each jump difficult to see, and sometimes would even hide behind walls. In C:LOI the camera control is great, usually fixing in on a position in which you can see the whole room (or at least the section you are currently working your way through) and all the enemies approaching you. This works well, and I hope that more 3D platforms use a camera similiar to this.
In every past Castlevania game the enemies were only half of the difficulty. The other half was making painstacking jumps from platform to platform hoping that you don't fall into the Black Abyss below and lose an entire life. In C:LOI, there are no pits to fall into. In the worst case scenarios you fall off the screen, and immediately transported to the top, but in most cases there are no falls at all. As a Castlevania game, I felt platform, timing each motion. Athat this left a lot to be desired, as I enjoyed jumping platform to platform praying that I don't fall to my doom. It seems Konami is trying to make Castlevania similiar to most modern day 3D platforms, but it is taking itself away from the roots of tradition.
In C:LOI you use Leon Belmont, the first Belmont clan ever to fight against the darkness. He was a knight who's love was stolen from him, and in his pursuit he ventures upon the dark castle. At first this entire story seems to be done before many times, however you will learn the start of all the later aspects of the Castlevania series. You will begin by recieving the whip from a mysteroius salesmen, who will invoke upon you a great quest to prove yourself. Over time you will understand the salesmen motives, your friend Maxim, and yourself. The story while being a little predictable at times, also has it's moments of plot twists, surprised, and all sorts of mahem. Castlevania has never been about the story, but in this game it definitely does not hurt the experience.
After you run into the salesmen you get the famous Belmont whip for the first time. This whip is your main means of fighting Dracula's forces. It has to ways of control, one be a quick multiple strike strategy, and the other being a slower but much more powerful sideways swipe. Also overtime and by defeating enemies you will gain other methods of battling enemies with the whip, with various button combinations. Despite all the special moves, the most simplest whip combination can be the most useful. The whip not only fights for you, it is also a key to many puzzles. You can hang from platforms and swing from side to side to move on at points, and at some points you think that this Leon Belmont is Indiana Jones with all his tricks. The final whip use is to break candles and varoius other things to gain money, items, and of course the special weapons.
Yes, similiar to most Castlevania games the subweapons make a return. You will be able to use either the throwing knife, the holy water, the axe or the boomerang. The subweapons have their typical use as past games, for example the knife travels quickly but cause only small damage, and the holy water traps and burns foes. Besides their typical uses you can combine them with magic books that you will find along the way, giving the subweapons special powers, for example shooting out multiple axes all around you, or creating a shield of holy water to keep foes away. This adds a new twist to the subweapons, which while is not critical to playing the game, adds one more factor to victory.
C:LOI at times can be very difficult. Certain bosses will require you to use potions, and/or go out and find that special whips (for example fire or ice) to give the boss double damage before strike. With the right tactics or weapons, though, all bosses can be beat fairly easily including the final one. Also the stages do not follow a select order, but resemble the Megaman games, or Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge of the original Gameboy. This means, that you have stages to pick from and you can work them through in any order you want. In C:LOI, the order you choose is critical, because certain special items are only found in certain levels, and they are fairly crucial in other stages.
Castlevania: Lament of Innocence is not a perfect game. While there are many positives, including it's gloomy atmosphere in its graphics and music, it also does not at all times feel like a Castlevania game. Without any platform jumping, nor a set level of stages, and special moves with the weapon, it doesn't keep the old system that made Castlevania great. As a videogame as a whole, it is a game worth experiencing with it's excellent camera control, and the entertaining puzzles along the way, however as a Castlevania game it grades much wose. I reccomend this game to anyone who enjoys 3D platformers, but don't get prepared for a trip down memory lane, for while the game is fun, besides the story, it just doesn't feel like a Castlevania game...
Community review by ratking (February 15, 2004)
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