Monday, October 06, 2008

Late to the Party Review: Heavenly Sword

Heavenly Sword is supposed to be an utter amazement of PS3 and Blu-ray technologies, but rather we receive a short God-of-War-wannabe that's clawing the dark for a candle. It will confuse you with a standout graphic display followed or preceded by a pixelated disappointing one.

After the blah about how Blu-ray would make games longer and nothing would be compressed, they sure managed to glaringly show compression (watch the smoke). While it doesn't mar the actual gameplay, we should expect better.

The faces have some impressive detail which do well for cutscenes. However, when controlling the awkwardly moving main characters, the graphical fidelity seems to fall apart. Thankfully, the developers managed to counter that will some awe-inspiring backgrounds and minigames to avert your attention from the dirty core.

Continue reading...

Speaking of cutscenes, don't bother getting too excited. The characters are cliche-creepy, straight out of a B movie. There a few giggle-moments, but for the most part the universe doesn't merit much elaboration.

In gameplay, many enemies will flood the screen here. This can be neat, but the AI is disappointingly neanderthal. Enemies will hurl themselves at you, which would be fine if the dodge stick was more responsive. The attack/counter-attack system is functional, but quite frustrating at times when Nariko won't do what you want.

Another frustrating aspect is the lack of a jump button. While there's not much for platforming here, it keeps many of the large-scale battles confusing because Nariko can get lost in the flow of on-screen characters. This antifeature makes it easy to get stuck on bodies or "massively unscalable 6 inch high rocks" and wonder why the hell Nariko is stuck like Chuck.

The best part of this game has nothing to do with the brawl-nature at the center of the show. Projectiles feature an "aftertouch" feature that allows the player to remote control them to steer them towards enemies or other misc. targets. Out-of-place cannons, rocklaunchers, and roto-crossbows make appearances to allow this fun feature to be utilized. However, the sloppy PS thumbsticks will make retreat-retaliate moves fail as the character never seems to default in the correct direction. Jumping over all those crates hoping to flip around and "snipe" an enemy will be a practice in futility.

While the game isn't a total abomination, it's a joke when put up to the likes of God of War or Ninja Gaiden. Those games have very responsive controls and a finesse that HS desperately needed but failed to bring to the dinner party.

3 pros:
-Fun aftertouch mechanic
-Detailed faces
-Entertaining finishing moves

3 cons:
-Unresponsive controls
-Inconsistent graphic fidelity

Resembles/Feels like: Shortbus version of God of War

Rent or Buy: Rent

Personal Appraisal: $16.99*
MSRP: $49.99 (varies due to age)
Other Opinions:

7/10 @ IGN
8/10 @ Gamespot
89% @

* This is based on the lack of replay value and poor gameplay. Replay value and fun-factor can play a role in higher personal appraisals.


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