@dankempster: Thinking back on the DMC series, I kinda like Castlevania LOS a bit more than those games, but it's not nearly as grand as the God of War games. Honestly, I don't think you're missing out on anything truly spectacular by skipping this one. In the end, it's a clone - a good clone, but a clone nonetheless, and one that sadly eschews a lot of what has made Castlevania great.
Now, Dark Dawn follows that same basic formula you've described. I never played either of its predecessors, but the gameplay is rock solid. I can't say as I'm a huge fan of the characters, story, or the world, but the game is very much like a decent stew - you know your taste buds aren't going to be tingling, but it's good, solid food, there's plenty of it, and there's not much possibility of its maker screwing it up.