Currently Playing: Castlevania Harmony of Despair (PS3)

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The game was originally released for the Xbox360 on Live back in August 2010 and recently released for the PlayStation Network for the PS3 this September 2011, more than a year later than the Xbox Live version. This is the only online Castlevania game that I know. I was fascinated with it, but I didn’t try to buy it because I was very skeptical about the game. Recently, my friend bought the game for the PS3 and we’re playing it on our free weekends. Now, what can I say about the game.

 

I played a lot of Castlevania games before, as I did mention that Castlevania was one of the first game I’ve ever played in the FamiCom system. I’ve been a fan for a long time now and I’ve played several incarnations of the game, even the 3D ones like Harmony of Dissonance and the latest Castlevania Lords of Shadow. But Harmony of Despair is more based on the 2D, RPG, open world setup like Symphony of the Night or the Gameboy Advance and DS Castlevania games.

Heck, even the graphics looks like it did come from the DS or Gameboy Advance, but imagine that and zoom it out. The graphics themselves is not terrible, but it can suffice.

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Well, the graphics is obviously is a rehash of all the materials that they already had before, the only major thing here is the online part. That’s what matters in this game, so lets talk about it.

The gameplay is generally like any previous 2D RPG Castlevania game. Although I’m sure that there are adjustments that you’ll go through since controls are a tad unified and more consistent since several people are playing one game all at the same time. The differences are what makes the characters in the game unique. Some characters have fixed weapons and skills, some have a wide variety of skills, some can have special moves that other can’t do. Although some characters will have to bought, but they are merely optional.

Characters don’t level up though, but you gain weapons and skills. You can buy certain weapons on the shop, but these are very limited. The best is to keep on playing/grinding to get the best items for your character.

The game consists of several maps, each map has a certain level of difficulty and specialization. Specialization because some maps makes you teleport from one area to another, some have traps that bosses take advantage of, or some other trick that you can take advantage. You really have to memorize the map and what each part does for you to get through the map easily. You can’t take your time in one map though, since there is a time limit. Once you start a game, the timer starts and even going through menus will eat your time. So, plan ahead before starting a map. Some maps are available if you pay for them separately, somehow you’ll feel a little cheated out of the map since the first ones available will feel a little short.

You can play up to 4 players offline, and you can reach up to 6 online. Although I think it will be chaotic to see 6 people in one game but it would have been interesting to see.

I have a problem with the menu though, it’s obvious that only 1 player can manipulate the menu at a time, but all the players can control the menu. The problem is, it’s not clear. There is no indication whatsoever who’s using the menu. Generally, this should be not much of a problem, but it does get confusing when one person is trying to edit a character since you can only edit one character at a time. There is no marker who is editing the current character.

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Another problem I have is that when you have multiple players in 1 screen, you have to have your characters together. If you split up, it will be difficult to see you character… unless you have bionic eyes which can see every detailed pixel. It’s sad because it could be a fun game you can split up and see what’s happening properly so you can cover so much of the map than. You can still play even when zooming out to check the entire map, my problem with this is, everything gets so small that a lot of it is unreadable. You don’t even know if you are getting hit or if you’re making a hit. So, if you are playing this, note that you must not move and be on a safe location before zooming out the camera. I’m already using a 37 inch HDTV and using 720p on PS3 games, it just seems ridiculous that with so much detail that you see on the screen, it still isn’t enough to see what you’re doing when it’s zoomed out.

To tell you the truth, it’s not that bad to play it. It’s a fun game when you’re in a group of people, but I noticed that there could have been so many improvements to make it better. A friend of mine said that it’s all because the budget was cut from them because at the same time Lords of Shadow was being worked on, and I tend to agree with him because it certainly feels that way. It would have been nice to see what this game could have been if there was more time to work on it.

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  1. Thank You 2011, Hello 2012! « Pinoy Video Gamer

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