Friday, September 14, 2007

Heavenly Sword

Developer: Ninja Theory
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Release Date: Sept. 12, 2007
Systems: PS3
ESRB Rating:
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: Goddess of War is too easy. Streetess of Rage?

0:01 This minute spent "Installing Game Data."
0:02 This minute as well.
0:03 And some of this one.
0:04 Menu screen, finally. I like having the subtitles option right there, but no other options?
0:05 The game starts with "THE FINAL BATTLE." My character was supposed to be a male savior for her people, but instead turned out to be a girl. "People said I was a porent of doom. Maybe they were right." Gripping.
0:06 And we're right into battle, with the simple instructions "Press square or triangle to attack." I do this nonstop and dispatch enemies with brutal efficiency, until the game tells me to hit O to chop a guy in half, lengthwise. So far I have not touched the control stick.
0:07 That whole minute of actual gameplay was apparently too much -- time for another cut scene. "My clan believed this sword was made in heaven for a deity... the clan's duty is to protect this sacred weapon." Thanks, Captain Exposition!
0:08 So my character is already dead, as punishment for picking up the cursed sword a few days ago. But wait, now she's alive again, in heaven or something. Her hair has a mind of its own, bopping and swaying all over. "Why have you taken me now? Please, send me back, let me go, without me they will perish," my character says to an unseen deity. Some extremely lifelike animation and good voice acting here, but the mouth is a little out of sync with the audio.
0:10 Suddenly, another menu screen. There's the options! I choose a chapter and a giant sword rises from the ground. Um, kick ass?
0:11 And we jump to five days ago. King Bohan wants the sword as a symbol over my clan. He's the same guy who was leading my enemies in the final battle. "We are great warriors, but we cannot run forever," my character says. Er, don't warriors usually fight instead of running?
0:12 Back into a tutorial-tastic battle. The game feels the need to stop and explain that the X button climbs the ladder. I think the large, vibrating "X" on the screen was enough of a hint, thanks.
0:15 "Mashing buttons will help you recover more quickly." Do you really want to advertise that button mashing is a major focus of the game like that?
0:17 I like the auto-blocking when you're not attacking. One less thing to worry about as you mash those buttons.
0:18 Oh goodie, more cut scenes.. Apparently my character is worried that her dad is mad at her for being cursed and killing her mother in childbirth. Hmmm, ya think? Then.. more battle.
0:20 You'd think having fellow clansmen fighting by my side would get in the way. Lucky for me, my fellow fighters are apparently ghosts, since my blades go right through them. "How much longer can we run, Shen?" "One battle at a time, men, one battle at a time."
0:21 "I am no curse! ... ENOUGH!" Overwrought melodrama, thy name is Heavenly Sword. Nice presentation though. It really is one beautiful looking game.
0:22 "NIGHT ATTACK," the chapter title reads. Kai, the archer, is a sadistic little thing, with some sort of laser guided super bow, apparently.
0:25 OK, this arrow-shooting mode sucks. I can't move the aiming reticle fast enough, and I miss when it looks like I should hit. You can guide shots in mid-air using the SixAxis motion controls, but it's very hard to do effectively. Oh well, at least I have unlimited ammo.
0:28 Target practice mode mercifully ends. I managed to hit four attackers and miss 20. It might just be that I suck, but I really feel it's just the controls. I have to fight the remaining soldiers now.
0:31 The ease with which Nariko (my character) is dispatching the 20 remaining soldiers makes me wonder why I bothered with the arrow shooting at all.
0:32 Nariko and Kai hug like awkward lovers after the battle. "You may collect your men and offer them a dignified burial" Nariko scream to no one in particular.
0:33 Now Nariko is supposed to protect the sword! We're already up to "four days ago." This game's gonna be over quick, it seems.
0:34 Oh fuck, now they have catapults. I'm supposed to protect the fort while they retreat.
0:37 Another fucking shooting mini-game. It's a good thing they put bright red weak points on these catapults. I can control these a lot better I turn off the motion controls in the options and suddenly the mid-air control is a lot easier. It's almost... dare I say it... fun?
0:39 "The plan is working," Master Shen screams. What plan? The plan to attack the bright orange weak points on the catapults with cannonballs? Yay! What great planning! You're a brilliant tactician, there, Shen.
0:45 The catapults are taken out, now I have to shoot at the advancing army. There are so many of them, I take out at least a dozen no matter where I aim. It's like shooting fish in a barrel, here. Then more catapults come, but instead of taking them out like before, I run away in a cut scene. Wha?
0:50 So now I'm running for my life. I finish one third of the "escape" without lifting my weapons... it's pretty easy just to run by the enemies, auto-blocking any attacks. Then I run into a gate and finally have to dispatch some enemies to open it. Easy enough.
0:52 Then the final third of the "escape" is completed, again without attacking. Thanks to auto-block it's EZ.
0:53 I pick up the cursed sword I'm supposed to be defending. "To save my father's life I betray his whole reason for living. I know it's death I'm holding now. Did I ever have a choice?" The cut scene production team has really outdone itself. Excellent writing and delivery.
0:54 Now that I have the sword, combat is faster but still the same litany of button mashing.
0:55 Despite the hundreds of enemies in the background, the forces are nice enough to attack in groups of three to ten at a time.
0:56 The introduction of battle stances changes things up a little bit. The range stance sends the sword in a wide circle but the enemies barely seem to notice. Meh.
0:57 "Kill the scabby wench!" What? Is this a pirate game now?
0:59 The power stance predictably does slow and powerful attacks. You have to be in the right stance to block various attacks. Still the same button-mashing game though.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? No.
Why? Uninspired button mashing is uninspired button mashing, no matter how pretty the environments are cut scenes are.

This review based on a retail copy provided by Sony.


Aimee said...

I thought the same thing about the guys attacking in small groups.

I've been enjoying the game, though. I'm really liking the characters, even though Nariko's hair looks like it's trying to eat her. Bohan actually made me giggle a couple of times. I think I'll play through it just to finish the story.

BOO!!!YAH!!! said...

Its a great game, how did you give it a no? Aiming is super easy, that is why aftertouch is there. I agree with you on some things, but overall I guess you just don't like this types of games, cause HS deserves at least a "most likely" lol

Gradinko said...

The thing is this game is defined by its progression. If you only play the first hour, and not the rest, I could see maybe coming away from it without that big of an impression. It does start off rather unremarkably, and at least I never got the hang of the controls until somewhere around the last 20% of the game. But play the whole game, let the story sink in, and see how quickly you begin to empathize with the characters, and you'll see why this game deserves some more attention.

Sam said...

If you don't like the gameplay, you probably won't like the rest of the game based on the reviews I've seen. Apparently, the combat gets very repetitive after awhile and the game only lasts for 6 hours anyway.