Ah, the Castlevania franchise. At this point, it has to be one of the longest running franchises in video game history. I doubt a single video game player hasn't played at least one of the games in the Castlevania series. Most people are probably familiar with its play mechanics and the 'exploration' aspect of the game that has been included in a majority of the releases since Castlevania 2.
Castlevania: Lament of Innocence doesn't really step away from the basic structure of the previous games, you wander around a castle defeating bosses and receiving items that give you new abilities, which you can then use to return to areas you couldn't bypass earlier to receive new items which allow you to enter new areas and get items. Unfortunately they decided to keep this play style for this newest installment, while changing the level design to make the game much more linear, so instead of having a single giant castle with multiple paths to new areas and teleportation terminals and flying wombats to help you get around there's a central 'hall' and from there all the other areas branch, meaning that when you finally obtain the Pie of Almighty or some other obscure item that allows you to get to a hidden door in the HALLWAY OF UNBRIDLED PAIN or whatever they are calling it in this game, you have to backtrack back to the original central hall, and then branch back into the room with the hidden door. Since they scaled back the game in this manner, instead of hidden doors leading you to entirely new areas with new hidden items and monsters, they generally lead you to small rooms with a single item in them. Much more linear than the most recent games in this series. The game features an in game map which shows how much of the castle you have completed. One could probably complete 93% of the castle without finding a single hidden door or room. Of course, 90% of the useful items and power ups are contained in that tiny 7% of the castle.
Konami decided to increase the 'action' quotient of this game as well, instead of just having vanilla whip attacks, you can now gain some combos and special attacks, to help you defeat the undead. This actually is a pretty welcome addition as it adds a little depth to the fighting action of the game and helps to make your 13th trip through a room slightly less monotonous. Apparently you also gain stats 'RPG' style, but honestly I never noticed anything about how that system worked while playing the game. Honestly, it must be mostly cosmetic.
Back when the series first started most games didn't bother with plots. You were Simon Belmont, you had a whip and you killed evil stuff with it. That was enough for me when I was 6, but of course modern audiences DEMAND some sort of story to go with their monster whipping, which is occasionally too bad when the story is limp or just absurd. Lament's plot isn't all that terrible, but it is guilty of attempting to give an 'origin' to the Belmont clan's fight with the undead as you play Leon Belmont, supposedly the 'first' of the Belmont clan to fight the vampires. Also, apparently Dracula's real name is now Walter for some reason. THAT'S RIGHT, WALTER! FEAR WALTER! I don't understand why Konami felt it necessary to take the plot in this direction. Was anyone out there seriously confused as to where the Belmont clan history stemmed from? I'm sure they could have found some good gay fan fiction that explained it better than this game did anyways. The game itself is also incredibly short. I managed to fight my way to Dracu... I mean Walter, in less than 8 hours, and find the few remaining hidden items and bosses in another 2. Speaking of hidden bosses, that made absolutely no sense either. There are 3 hidden 'elemental' bosses in the game and a 'super hard' hidden extra boss for you to fight. They are never mentioned in any way in the 'plot' moments of the game so unless you stumble across them in their hidden rooms you would be missing absolutely nothing by not defeating them. I don't even know why they wanted to kill me. After finishing the game it gives you a code to play again as another character, which as it usually means is basically like saying 'play the game again with this absolute cripple who can't get any items or use any useful abilities.' No thanks.
So, despite all that, Konami managed to make a playable and entertaining game that basically fits into the Castlevania franchise without too much difficulty, unfortunately its hampered by its short play time and linear design, but its a much better 3D installment to the series than the terrible Nintendo 64 game, hopefully a step in the right direction for Konami, and they can improve upon it before releasing another game. Probably worth a rental if you are a fan of the series.