The “Castlevania” series has a lot of great games to its name.
The 2-D titles like “Symphony of the Night” and last month’s “Dawn of Sorrow” are amazing games that lead the genre in every aspect.
The 3-D installments, however, always seem to be one step behind their competition.
With Playstation 2 and X-Box’s “Curse of Darkness,” developer Konami hopes to change that.
The franchise spans a period of time almost a millennium long, so one of the first things fans want to know about each installment is its setting.
This time around, the game takes place in the 1400s; shortly after “Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse.”
This was a good choice, as it allowed the developers to incorporate characters and locations from the fan-favorite game to concoct an interesting, though somewhat lacking, story.
The player controls Hector, a “devil forgemaster” who worked for Dracula before his defeat in “Caslevania 3.”
His goal is to defeat the only other “forgemaster,” Isaac, who leads Hector back into Dracula’s Castle.
Along the way, Hector is able to create new “innocent devils,” which are creatures that fight alongside the player.
Each “innocent devil” has unique abilities, so deciding which one to use is a fun way to incorporate strategy into the game.
Strategy is also a factor when determining which weapon to use.
Hector can create weapons at any time, as long as he has found the necessary material that can help him deal with certain enemies.
For instance, the rapier allows Hector to attack quickly so that he has time to assault the enemy before having to avoid oncoming attacks.
The only problem is that the rapier does not do much damage.
The more powerful battle-axe is a better choice to take the opponent down quickly, but it will also slow down the player, making Hector more vulnerable to attacks.
Using the weapons is fun enough, especially when taking advantage of the assortment of different types of weapons. Unfortunately, the fighting system is not nearly as deep or fluid as other games like “God of War,” so attacking the endless onslaught of Dracula’s minions can grow tiresome after a while.
This is especially true when you fight through the same environments repeatedly.
Each area of the game is huge, and each has a distinct style, but almost every room within an area has the same look to it.
When the fighting system is slightly shallow, creativity in level design can help to mask that problem, but that is not the case here.
However, if there is one thing that “Castlevania” consistently does well, it is its music.
The soundtrack in “Curse of Darkness” does not let series fans down. Though there are not any truly memorable songs this time, they do provide the right ambience for most areas of the game.
In the end, “Curse of Darkness” turned out to be a solid 3-D action game, but it still manages to fall behind its competitors.
Had this game been release in 2003, it would have likely reached a must-play status. However, with games like “God of War” and “Devil May Cry 3” available, it is best to rent “Curse of Darkness.”
Matthew Loriso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.