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Castlevania reviews


Romier S
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Heres the scores:

 

9.5 Presentation

The most stylish Castlevania ever (and that's saying a lot), Lament of Innocence practically bleeds high-production values. The atmosphere is awesome and the load-times almost non-existent.

 

8.5 Graphics

There are some camera issues that appear while platforming, but the rest of the camera work is fine. Lighting effects, monster designs, and framerates are all top notch with huge environments to boot.

 

9.0 Sound

Michiru Yamane proves that Symphony of the Night was no fluke. Her soundtrack is absolutely brilliant and the Dolby Pro Logic II support Only helps. Good move with the Japanese language track.

 

8.5 Gameplay

Try to imagine 2D gaming in a 3D world and you've got it. The combo system is great, the difficulty is just right, and the upgrade system is near perfect. Only the occasional camera issues hurt it.

 

8.5 Lasting Appeal

It's over the first time in about 10 hours, but there are plenty of other things to do in the interim. Unlockable characters, items, and a new difficulty setting are but a few of them. Fun stuff.

 

9.0 OVERALL:

(out of 10 / not an average)

 

 

They seemed to have liked it. ;)

 

You can read the rest here:

 

Castlevania IGN review

 

1 more day!

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EGM reviewed it in their newest issue, and awarded it 8.0 7.5 7.5

 

+ graphic style and music

+ combat system and controls

+ using orbs with weapons

+ secrets (new attacks, rare items)

- less compelling story

- short

- repetitive level design

- no experience points

- progression does not lead to new abilities

 

That's just my shortened version as i re-scanned the review so keep in mind i may have missed a few points.

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- no experience points

- progression does not lead to new abilities

 

It will be interesting to play the game since EGM's review seems in direct contravention to IGN's.

 

IGN goes on for a good 2 paragraphs about the ability progression and how by the end of the game your character will have gained numerous new abilities that surpass even Rygar's move set (on the PS2). EGM seems to list that as though it does not exist at all. We'll see come Wednesday.

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EGM seems to say that there are no power up items that allow you to progress through the castle (like double jump boots), there is just a castle and you can go pretty much anywhere with "progression switches" to open up new areas.

 

They say that even though there is a cool new combat system, there really is no need to fight enemies sometimes (there are no experience points, so no leveling) and it's better to just run past them when you need to.

 

But then again, you can still find new attacks and rare items to help you through the game. I guess they are just not necessary to advance through the castle and you can get them in whatever order you please.

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who cares what the reviews say Romier, it could be a big piece of poop with the name Castlevania on it and you know we'd both buy it.

 

Well, you could safely put me in that category as well.

 

Are there any good deals to be had out there for this title? I'm willing to break my usual rule of waiting at least a couple of weeks on new releases for this one!!!

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who cares what the reviews say Romier, it could be a big piece of poop with the name Castlevania on it and you know we'd both buy it.

 

No doubt! You know I put little stock in what any review says. Its Castlevania. Thats like quoting reviews to me on a Panzer Dragoon title, I'd just look at you funny :D .

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Look its lunch time! :D

 

Seriously though, I spent the better part of yesterday playing Castlevania Lament of Innocence. All together I ended up purchasing four games yesterday (Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Crimson Skies and Rebel Strike). Of course the Castlevania fan in me required most of my play time be devoted to Igarashi's latest opus. Thus far, I would have to say that finally, its been proven that Castlevania can be done in the third dimension and it can be done well! Its ashame that I must say so with some reservation as Lament is not without its flaws, some of which can be fatal for all but the most apologetic Castlevania fan (ie me:D).

 

Please keep in mind that these impressions come to you by way of about 4 hours of play time. I managed to complete the first area of the game (including the first boss and sub-boss) and have made my way well into the second and third sections of the castle.

 

Lament of Innocence begins with a scrolling text introduction that helps to acquaint the player with Leon Belmont. Along with the current predicament he finds himself in. Leons beloved Sara has been kidnapped by a feared vampire, a minor setback to Leons matrimonial plans. Our latest Belmont decides to give up his title and wealth (His church will not allow him to go after Sara in his current position) to rescue his loved one.

 

Once you enter the game world, you are greeted with a lengthy opening cut-scene where Leon meets his first ally, a man named Rinaldo Gandolfi. He goes on to explain the origins of the famous whip (known to us fans as the Vampire Killer) as well as why the previous castles in the series seems to have an ample supply of items and hearts. (keep in mind this game is meant to be the first Castlevania, or a prequel if you will).

 

Its interesting stuff for a hardcore Castlevania fan and its a strong attempt at adding depth and story to what has up until now been a very story "lite" series. Being that I am still early on in the game, we'll have to wait and see whether Igarashi and his team have followed through with the rest of the storyline. The voice acting during this opening sequence is leaps and bounds above that found in Symphony or any other Castlevania title in the past. Its also worth mentioning that Konami Tokyo has wisely added the option for a Japanese language track for those that may have issues with the english dub.

 

Moving past this opening sequence you get your first taste of controlling Leon Belmont. Anyone that has played Devil May Cry or Rygar The Legendary Adventure for the PS2 should be instantly familiar with how things work here. Leon has the staple strong and weak whip attacks that can easily be combined for more powerful attacks. He can also double jump right from the beginning of the game. Also thanks to a small enchantment from Rinaldo, his gauntlet is able to block enemy attacks as well absorb magical power with each block. This of course ties heavily into the magic system in the game.

 

Lament of Innocence is quite a bit more structured than the last few Castlevania games. Leon will at first enter the castle's courtyard where he will be met with a "hub" type area. This area will have small platforms that will lead Leon to each individual "world" or "level" of the castle. He must complete the five worlds before he gains access to the main castle area and the final boss world/battle. This will no doubt disappoint those that have played the very open ended GBA Castlevania games or Symphony of the Night. They will feel as though the exploration aspects of the series have been dilluted and they would be right, to an extent.

 

Its very apparent right off the bat that Lament lacks solid level design. Its a major fault and one that at times can be fatal to an otherwise solid game. The courtyard sets the precedent for the lack of room variety and the first two worlds follow this template to the letter. In fact template is the perfect word to describe the level variety (or lack thereof) in the latest Castlevania title. Each particular section of the castle has its own distinct look that is constantly repeated as if copy and pasted into place. There is a very real sense of deja vu as you explore your surroundings and this is quite problematic to say the least.

 

Its ashame as there definite moments of variety and greatness. For instance there is room where Leon is required to run along a snaking path of floors that if jumped upon will give way and cause Leon to fall to a lower level of the room where a pack of enemies await. In addition there are three small jewels constantly moving and firing blasts of laser fire at Leon which of course require you to time your runs just perfectly so as to not cause Leon to jump and fall. Its this type of uniqueness and variety that the game lacks as a whole. This example is unfortunately the exception rather than the norm.

 

The structure of these environments were created to support the games deep combat system. You will move from room to room eliminating creatures in order to find your next objective, be it a switch you need to depress or a key that will unlock a secret door. In this aspect Castlevania shares more than a passing resemblance to Devil May Cry. (which to be fair took its share of inspiration from the Castlevania series).

 

In talking about the level design I do feel the need to mention the camera. You are no doubt shaking and quaking with fear but thankfully you should not be. The team behind Lament were able to craft a good static camera system very much like that found in (again) Devil May Cry and other titles such as Ico and Rygar. It follows the action superbly and its the perfect camera to use in this type of intensive, combat heavy game. Its only failing is in certain platform scenarios where the camera either has problems keeping up with the player or is far too close for its own good. These are minor frustrations however and to be honest I feel the camera does a damn fine job regardless.

 

Where Lament does excel is in its combat system which is both deep and very entertaining. Leon is one extremely talented whip toting can of whoop-ass. Every whip action is stylishly animated and the instant targeting system is heavenly. You'll never have a porblem attacking a particular enemy nor shooting off a magic attack in the right direction. You can perform combination moves by alternating button presses between the strong and weak attacks. As you progress through the game you acquire more combo's and special maneuvers which will help you disptach your enemies that much quicker. Most importantly of all the combat system FEELS like Castlevania!

 

As mentioned earlier this Belmont also has the ability to block enemy attacks, some of which are preceeded by a purple glow which indicates an enemy "special". If Leon blocks this special maneuver he will acquire energy which will refill his magic meter over time. This meter is directly tied into a relic sub-system that gives Leon powerful magic sub-attacks that can clear out rooms of enemies. These relics can be found throughout the castle as well as for sale in a small shop you have access to at any time (which happens to be run by our good friend Rinaldo)

 

Leon also has access to a myriad of sub weapons that will be familiar to any Castlevania fan out there. The dagger, axe, crystal, cross and more all make appearances and can be combined with colored orbs to create powerful attacks ala the card system in Harmony of Dissonance. These sub-weapons and the combined orb attacks require hearts to use, much the same as the previous games. The orbs can be acquired after defeating the games bosses and several can also be found in Rinaldo's shop.

 

You are also able to acquire various moves as you explore the castle. These moves have preset conditions that must be met and will give Leon either longer attack strings, perfect block abilities (which give you more magic and hearts) and even air maneuvers. In addition Leon is able to equip various types of armor and accessories and access healing items all in real time while doing combat. The equipment, orb and relic menu's can all be accessed from the start menu or by various button assignments which will pop-up small quick menus. Keep in mind this is all done real time while fighting so you don't get to pause while changing setups.

 

If you haven't quite wrapped your head around the idea that Castlevania Lament of Innocence has a pretty damned deep and interesting combat system then I haven't done my job yet. Fighting enemies is a stylish dance of joy. The variety of moves, the fantastic animations and the pure fun that can be had fighting the huge library of enemies cannot be overstated. Boss battles are also impressive . I have only been able to experience three of them so far but they are pattern based and the increase in difficutly is noticeable from one boss to the other. Both were suitably impressive and just exude that Castlevania design from start to finish.

 

All is again not perfect in the world of Dracula however. For some reason Konami removed the experience and levelling system from the previous games which gives Lament an incomplete feeling at times. Most rooms in the game require you to kill all enemies in order to proceed. Makes sense but the problem lies in returning to these rooms as you will find that enemies have automatically respawned and there is very little reason to fight them again. They give no experience or anything useful besides money which is plentiful to begin with and for the most part rarely needed.

 

Of course you'll want to indulge the games combat system but when you are near a critical point you'll want conserve your health and not bother. Had Konami left the experience system intact it would have added a little more incentive for fighting the games numerous foes more than the one time your required too.

 

Visually Konami can yet again be proud of what its created. Konami in general is known for taking the Playstation 2 to its very limit, most recently with Silent hill 3 which is one of the most technically impressive games on the system. Castlevania features well defined textures and impressive lighting effects. The particle system implemented here is also very pleasing to the eye producing beautiful spell effects and even a nifty save animation. On the subject of animation Leon moves and reacts wonderfully and on the level of the best action titles out there. From combat actions to his basic running animations, all are transitionally smooth and expressive. Enemy models are almost as impressive as Leon himself. Variety is certainly not an issue here and I'd be lying if I said that its not exhilirating seeing some of my favorite creatures rendered properly in 3D. (Yes you'll turn into a weepy fanboy when you first glance at a fleaman jumping at you! ). I look forward to seeing more as I progress through the game.

 

As mentioned earlier each section of the castle I've experienced has its own unique look and regardless of the repetition, the texture work and delicate rendering are more than impressive. Unique and detailed texture maps give each area a different atmosphere, which is important in maintaining the well established lore of the Castelvania series.

 

All in all this is a pleasing visual package that thus far rivals if not surpasses genre front runners like the afformentioned Devil May Cry and Rygar. All of this comes to you at no sacrifice to the framerate. I've yet to notice the game falter in this area and it moves faster than a bat out of Dracula's castle.

 

Musically this is almost at the level of brilliance that Symphony of the Night was and that is high praise indeed. Michiru Yamane has completely outdone herself here. Glorious symphonies, followed by rough and tumble techno tracks with even more lovely sonata's in between. A musical tour de force that needs to be heard by any gamer out there. Do yourself a favor and track down the promo CD for this game at your local EB or download it from my thread. You'll be happy you did as it is one of the best soundtracks committed to a game in years.

 

Sound effects are all well done and include many Castlevania mainstays such as the heart pickup sounds and the whip slashing. Its all very high quality and adds to the atmosphere.

 

Here we are at the end, and after all this Im sure your wondering if this game is for you. Will the level design be too much for you? Will you be able to look past the problems? I don't want to give a final say on that as I'm not done with the game as of yet. I will say that as of now if you are a fan of the Castlevania games you proabaly won't do wrong by giving this a buy. The game has undeniable flaws but even then I am still enjoying it and most importantly this FEELS like Castlevania in 3D. Even with the design problems this is far better than both of the N64 games combined. I'm really having a great time with it and am willing to look past the flaws to get to the heart of the gameplay which is the extremely fun combat system. I'll have more when I finish the game along with a final review and recommendations. Thanks for reading.

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Great write up!

 

Its this type of uniqueness and variety that the game lacks as a whole. This example is unfortunately the exception rather than the norm.

 

With all due respect, you have only played 4 hours of the game. What makes you so sure there aren't more unique senarios to come?

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What makes you so sure there aren't more unique senarios to come?

 

I am not sure. Nor did I specify I was 100% that there aren't. When I write "as a whole" I figured anyone reading would be able to infer that the statement in question referred to the whole of my playing time with the game. I didn't feel the need to specify that any further of to put a "thus far" after every sentence as I made it abundantly clear from the start of my entire post (and throughout the subsequent paragraphs) that these impressions were based off of 4 hours of play time.

 

Furthermore this game has a set structure I do not see changing at any time soon. If you play the game for any extended period of time you will understand exactly what I mean, if you haven't then with all due respect Sam you have no basis to really question my thoughts or impressions on.

 

I am almost done with the second world and the afformentioned structure has been maintained from the start of the game until my current position. At its most basic, you enter a level of the castle, you go from room to room (which look identical most times), you fight the enemies until you find the objective. You open up the boss battle and you move to the next world. Now keep in mind that is over simplifying the games gameplay but the unique room I mentioned is in fact the exception and in entire two sections Ive been through you'll find maybe 1-2 of those type of rooms per "world". I would be very suprised to see any extreme changes in level design though I more than open to it (hell I welcome it) since as of this writing its my biggest point of contention.

 

Let me clarify though that I do think the game is worth it to any Castlevania fan. So far there is plenty here to like including some great boss battles Ive experienced, a really well thought out combat system and great skill progression. Most importantly the game can be very fun and even more importantly it maintains the spirit of Castlevania in the current sections I've played. I am willing to overlook some of the games flaws because I have a deep love for the series and Im enjoying quite a few aspects of the gameplay but I won't not bring thos flaws to light and people who are not huge fans of the series (and even those that are and may be reading) deserve to hear them.

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