|Castlevania: Curse of Darkness|
Release Date: Out Now
"Another Castlevania?" I hear you cry - Yup. Is there just no end to that darn Dracula, or the Belmont family for that matter?! Well, there is, as it goes, and here is our first pretty big change (well, for the Castlevania series anyway), this new 3D advanture has an all new story as well as new characters to add to an already colourful past.
So this time around you are Hector, the once Lieutenant of Dracula himself, who abandoned Dracula at his weakest point and allowed the Belmont family to overthrow and ultimately destroy the legendary devil. Now three years after the demon's demise, a curse has spread over the land of Vallachia and the rest of Europe. Hector, torn by grief and with a lust for revenge for the death of his wife at the hands of Isaac - another of Dracula's Lieutenants, heads back to the castle of his once Master to seek an answer.
What we've got is, and I really don't want this to sound like it's a bad thing or anything, essentially a Devil May Cry "clone" (sorry!) but with a small and enjoyable RPG element for good luck and variation. The main flesh of the game has changed so there are now very few actual traditional platforming sections, and your battlegrounds are now open areas of land or castle corridors but without the need to be leaping from crumbling ledge to broken bridges. As with DMC and its followers, the combat that's presented here is fast and furious, but lacks a lot of the aforementioned game's finesse and pure skill. A lot of the time here you can get away with a bit of good old-fashioned button bashing, but by planning your attacks and waiting for enemy "prone" animations, this makes for a far more satisfying experience. Within this is your obligatory combo system, which is modified depending on which weapons you're using. You're also given the opportunity to get in special attacks when an icon appears on the screen. It's almost like a single button push 'Quick Time Event', which, when timed correctly, will deal an extra damage blow.
Hector also has the ability to be able to forge other items from items that the foes drop. As Hector collects different elements and items, he can transform them into new weapons and armour, and then, from these items, he can further transform them etc etc. This is a fun and enjoyable aspect of the game, and many a time I found myself back-tracking to find certain enemies to get a specific element they drop just to see what new items and weapons could be made next. The actuall weapons do make a fairly big impact on the gameplay too. What's better? A fast but weak sword? Or perhaps a Pole Arm, that may be very slow but once it connects does big damage? Well that's for you to decide really, but at least by creating the weapons, it is your choice.
The graphical style is fairly reminisant of its 2D brethren, but it lacks the flourish and vibrant coloured corridors. While the graphics engine handles the onscreen action well, and without any crippling slowdown (there is some but not enough to damage the gameplay), the same can't be said for the awful fogging effect! I thought this had been stopped when the PS1 drew its last breath. There is simply no need for it in this day and age, but I actually can't make my mind up if it's to add atmosphere or drama to the areas or it's lazy programming! Either way it's of no real benefit and actually looks to age the game before its time.
And so, the latest Castlevania isn't anywhere near as bad as I thought it would/could be. It's certainly worth a try if you're a fan of the franchise but I don't think it's of high enough calibre to even turn the heads of the DMC hardcore. Still the game is quite lengthy and there's plenty to get your teeth into....
Oh come on - you didn't think I'd manage to go the whole length of the review without a cheesy vampire quip did you?
- The new RPG-Lite sections
- The excellent soundtrack
- Plenty to play through
- Poor graphics
- "Unfinshed" Innocent Devil feature