|Castlevania - Lament of Innocence|
Release Date: Out Now
When I first read about an all-new 3D Castlevania game coming out I was a little concerned to say the least. Most 3D updates of games tend to be on the shady side (Sonic Adventure, Street Fighter EX to name but two), with only a few truly taking advantage of the third dimension. This is even more evident these days with Gameboy Advance games showing us that 2D gaming is still very alive and kicking, and that unless you create a 3D game that works, it will generally fall flat on its face.
With the three Castlevania games on GBA being fantastic to play and really enjoyable experiences, I was wanting the new PlayStation2 version to be every bit as good as the previous side-scrollers, and not to fail simply because it was technically flawed. The initial screen shots and videos looked promising to say the least, so perhaps Konami had got it right?
C:LoI really stays faithful to 2D Castlevanias of the past. In 3D it plays similarly to Capcom's Devil May Cry. So does it work? Well to put it simply, yes is does. Attacking is a joy to behold, with aiming at different enemies made friendly with a subtle auto-aim feature, and the ability to pull off massive combos (like in DMC) is great fun. You have medium and hard attacks, special attack (like Holy Water etc.), and of course jump. As you progress you learn new techniques and combos to make the hero Leon much stronger and faster.
The isometric-style camera system in the game is non-controllable - instead it has fixed points that make it change direction/height etc at certain points. This does work well most of time, however sometimes it doesn't work quite how you want it to. When running down some corridors for instance, you are forced to run into the camera as opposed to away from it. This isn't a major issue, but the non-adjustability does make certain jumps later in the game quite hard. This is because you can't quite see the arc of the jump you're about to take, so it can be a bit of a "leap of faith" - something we shouldn't have to put up with. However as the platform sections do not make up a major part of the game, it doesn't dilute the quality too much.
The overall presentation in the game is superb. Firstly, Konami have included a 60hz video option in the game - always a good start. The lovely gothic/vampire style graphics are beautifully drawn, with some very impressive lighting effects going on. The sixty frames per second display is solid too. One feature I really liked was the menu system - its very simple and basic looking, but it works and I think the art director must have used it to try and stay as faithful as possible to previous incarnations of the Castlevania series. Nice touch.
The music in the C:LoI is fantastic too, with the soundtrack providing great atmosphere throughout, and is just as bit as good as previous Castlevania games (I believe they used the same musician as they did back on PlayStation). It's extremely varied throughout, and it just makes you want to turn it up loud - surely a good sign that the music works superbly. A Dolby Prologic 2 option is available too. One slightly disappointing thing about the PAL version is that it doesn't have the Japanese voice option found in the US NTSC version.
In summary, the game is very good. It is really enjoyable to play through, the enemies are fantastic and are very satisfying to kill. There are some neat puzzles that are challenging but not frustrating, and the platform sections are great too, with only the occasional issue from the previously mentioned camera system to dent the armour. This is a great addition to the long running series, and another release worthy of your game collection.
- Very faithful to previous games.
- Great fun to play.
- Lovely presentation.
- Solid action.
- Although the camera is usually good, it could have been improved slightly in some sections.
- The PAL version seems to be missing the Japanese language option, which is disappointing...