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March 20, 2006
Castlevania: Curse of Darkness - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
480KBDolby PLIIYesYesNoneNo

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Ermm, turn around!
Castlevania is a game series which has been around for years. In fact, the first game (Demon Castle Dracula, or Akumajo Dorakyura as it was known in Japan) was released some 20 years ago on the NES, Famicom Disk System and Commodore 64. The series has been strong for Komami with Castlevania: Curse of Darkness actually the 23rd game in the series. This is the second time the series has made an appearance on the Playstation 2 following the very respecible Castlevania: Lament of Innocence. We'll let you know if this game is also up to the task.

Castlevania: Curse of Darkness sees you play the role of Hector, one of two Devil Forgemasters who once trained under Dracula, has fled Vallachia disillusioned with the ideals of his mentor. Now, three years after Dracula was defeated in battle at the hands of the Belmonts, Isaac - a former friend and fellow Devil Forgemaster suddenly reappears and orchestrates the execution of Hector's beloved. Fueled by revenge, Hector returns to Vallachia to confront Isaac.

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Textures are a bit murky.
Essentially this is a 3D hack n' slash title with some platform and RPG elements thrown in for good measure. One of the great abilities is that Hector can now forge new weapons and armor from items collected through his travels. Each weapon has a range of combo moves as well although the square button is you're attack button. Along the way you'll encounter some mini- devils which aide you in your quest and add some new abilities to your arsenal which is nice.

The game world is quite large with plenty of areas to explore. In fact there is possibly a few too many areas - or at least areas which don't hold much interest in the overall scheme of things and the game soon degenerates to plenty of tireless wandering down corridors. The enemies are also, well, lacking some AI while there is also a lack of variety in them overall. Fortunately the game is saved in places by some of the boss, and large enemy encounters which, at times - and particularly towards the end of the game - will take a fair battering to defeat.

I guess ultimately I still have memories of Castlevania games being more platform based then action oriented which the series now seems focused on. With Capcom's Devil May Cry showing the world how to do a kick-ass supernatural styled action game Konami were already behind the 8-ball before even releasing this game, and it comes of all the worse for it.

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One of the boss encounters.
This far into a console's life you would hope that most full-priced games being released were of exceptional quality - especially from powerhouses such as Capcom, Electronic Arts, Namco and Konami. Sadly, despite the brilliant CG movies Castlevania: Curse of Darkness's in-game graphics leaves a bit to be desired. I know we're moving into the next generation, and we're starting to set our expectations higher but when you look at this game there's no hiding the fact that the textures are murky and the levels somewhat uninspired. Graphics really can be summed up with the fact that there's fogging indoors - obviously to keep the frame rate as high as possible. I must point out that some of the character design and visual effects are quite good, but they don't save this title from mediocre graphics.

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Nice flame effects...
Audio in the game is highlighted by the impressive music which sets the mood perfectly. There's more then a passing resemblance to early Castlevania titles and it sounds wonderful. Speech is a little on the corny side, but overall it seems to work in the title. Sound effects are adequate.

Castlevania: Curse of Darkness isn't the best game in the series' long history, but it's not a disaster either. One just can't help feel that much like Konami's Contra series it would be much better served in the 2D realm rather then 3D. Having said that Konami have developed a competent action title, which doesn't quite match the quality of Lament of Innocence, but is still certain to please fans of the series, and perhaps draw in a few new ones as well. Worth a look at the very least.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSQuite a disappointment. Konami should, and can, produce better.
SOUNDSome great music and voice acting makes this sound impressive.
GAMEPLAYIt's not the greatest game, but fans of the series will have a good time.
VALUEAt full price I would expect something a bit more special, still fun.
OVERALLCastlevania: Curse of Darkness is actually a bit of a step back for the series, but if you're a fan of the series you'll still have a good time while it lasts.

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