Video Game Review of the Week
--Posted by KenshiroKing @ 11/04/03 19:00 PST.
Castlevania: Lament of Innocence
Once again I bid you welcome to the wonderful world of me running my mouth off about video games. This week's sacrificial offering: Castlevania: Lament of Innocence by Konami for the PS2. Now, here I will be honest with you; I have not played any Castlevanias since Symphony of the Night (Best one ever). I hear there were some for the GBA and one or two for other systems but none of them really caught my attention. However, I figured now was as good a time as any to jump back on the 'vania wagon and I was not wrong.
Okies... plot. Pretty standard CV stuff. You play a vampire slaying Belmont clan member, the first actually, named Leon. Basically, the plot really isn't all that good, so I wont spend too much time on it. Suffice to say, your wife is kidnapped and you go to a big scary vampire's (not Dracula's) castle in order to save her. You really only meet a few other characters as per norm for the franchise and the story only really develops at the end of the game. And that's about it.
Where this game excels is with it's combat system. As you may know, I am not a big fan of action game combat. It usually tends to be monotonous in the extreme and consists of the same basic combo over and over and over. Not so with this game. Now, truthfully there is only so much you can do with a 3D action game's fighting, but instead of running more along the lines of The Hulk it feels more like Devil May Cry. Combos are learned the more you beat ass, and all sorts of dodging and rolling evades are present. The control scheme is intuitive and responds well, making fights consistently fun. Famous altenate weapons return in this game: cross, holy water, dagger etc. and when you defeat a boss, you gain control of a sphere which, when equipped adds a new characteristic to you weapon. For example, a certain sphere would enable your axe to, instead of being thrown outward in a straight line, be used as a hand held weapon as you dash across the screen. With 5 or so special weapons and a similar number of spheres, you can mix it up in quite a few different ways.
One of the largest problems that this game runs into is a non user controlled camera. The camera isn't fixed per say, but it stays in one general location and follows you and zooms as if there is a cameraman in every room. The problem is, this sometimes obscures enemies and makes lining up jumps difficult.
You know what's next. Graphically, LOI was... actually pretty good. It renewed my faith in the ability of the PS2 to produce decent graphics. Quite a few times I was actually able to look at the screen not wearing my perpetual scowl of dissaproval. I joke of course. The graphics were very good and I was actually impressed despite myself.
Now to the unfortunate part. The music for LOI was a dissapointment. After playing Symphony, I was ready for a feast for my ears, so to speak. I was soundly beat down by LOI for my insolence as if the game grasped my anticipation and brained me with it. The music was extremely mediocre for a CV title. Historically, the CV franchise's music has been tip top and a defining point for the series. Not so with LOI. Not to say the music wasn't decent, it just wasn't up to par. To bastardize a qoute from Terralor: Bad Castlevania is still better than most of the crap out there.
Hmm... what's left? I feel that I am leaving something out, because I have posted generally negative comments regarding this game, but I finished it with an overall positive feeling. Maybe the intangibles for this game actually pushed it over into the realm of the positive. Not so much pushed as shoved, because a lot of pushing was necessary. Intangibles such as the level design of the game. The stages were absolutely beautiful and each new section was a joy to behold. Also the fact that I could turn the dialogue to Japanese and avoid the lacking-of-skills demonstrated by the english voice actors. These and many others helped the game overall.
Bottom line: Fans of Devil May Cry may enjoy this game more than those of Castlevania.