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Platform: Playstation 2
Genre: Action
Publisher: Sammy
Developer: Yukes
ETA: October 2004 (Japan)

 

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Review: Nightshade (PS2)

Review: Ninja Gaiden (XB)

 

 

 

 

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Berserk

Hands-On Impressions

 

One of Sammyís upcoming games is based on an anime/manga series. It's a personal favorite of mine, being extremely violent, horrifying, and mercilessly funny: Berserk.

 

Berserk is a series about a man named Gatsu (Guts for short) and he is also known as the black swordsman (wears black armor and cape). He carries with him, a gigantic 7 ft sword known as the Dragon Slayer (for the record, Gutsí sword isnít a copy of FF VIIís Buster Sword. Berserk was originally published in Japan back in 1989). Guts also carries the burden of wearing the brand on his flesh. The brand is an unholy symbol that draws the forces of darkness to him and dooms him as their sacrifice. They will never stop hunting him until he is dead.

 

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Back in the year 2000 Eidos Interactive brought us Sword of the Berserk: Gutsí Rage for the Sega Dreamcast. If youíve played other games based on Animes i.e.: Dragon Ball Z and Gundam games, you will know how bland the games usually turn out. Sword of the Berserk: Gutsí Rage turned out to be a real shocker. It was a very entertaining hack and slash game even though it had its fair share of problems.

 

Now Sammy brings us a new Berserk game for the PS2. A demo disc has been released in Japan and thanks to my pal Slimj87 Iíve finally been able to play it. Itís a fairly short demo featuring one level and a huge boss to take on. For fellow Berserk fans, I should mention that it takes place at Volume 25 where Guts stops the troll demons from invading the people inside the church. (On a personal note; I canít help but wonder how the story will turn out for the game since they would obviously have to change some things. In the manga, the significance of the trolls was to eat the men and rape the women, which is a big no-no for games over here).

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The demo also includes two cinemas and the first one gives a straightforward impression of how violent the content is with Guts slicing a monsterís jaw in half with his oversized sword, and creating such a huge impact that even the eyeball of the monster goes flying right out of his head.

 

As far as gameplay goes, itís a little basic but thatís what you should expect from a hack and slash game. However it gets the job done of keeping the feel of the manga. You can push square for a normal attack or lock on by holding R1 which allows Guts to perform slightly different moves. Holding triangle does a slow, windup spinning attack that cuts everything in half in Gutsí way. On you health meter (a container with blood) if you see the sacrificial sign it means Guts can do a grapple like move by pushing triangle. The goriest grapple like move would be on a bigger enemy because Guts runs up his chest, jumps straight in the air and comes down with his sword straight down the enemyís face and doing a front flip while holding his sword to rip him in half.

 

I would expect this to be a story driven game where the videos get the main points across and then when itís fight time, players will have to take control of our anti-hero and swing his sword in a fury of berserk rage. Speaking of berserk rage, when a big sacrificial symbol pops up on the screen for a split second, it means playerís can push R2 and temporarily turn Guts into a mad man where he will swing his sword at great speeds and strength. By holding L1 and pushing one of the four face buttons, Guts can throw a little grenade, use his rapid fire crossbow, use one of his late friend Judeauís signature throwing knives, or the arm cannon. Itís safe to say that unlike the Dreamcast version, the throwing knives and crossbow actually do some effective damage to the enemy. Another thing worth mentioning is that unlike the Dreamcast game, most enemies die within one swing from Gutsí mighty sword which keeps it true to the manga.

 

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Not only can Guts use his sub-weapons but he can also get his friends involved in the action. By holding L2 and one of the 4 face buttons Guts can summon one of his friends to aid him. Each character does something different with their unique abilities like temporary freezing the enemies, burning them, and of course healing.

 

Whatís also nice about the game is the counter moves. If players pushes the defend button right before their enemyís attack makes contact with Guts, Guts will do a neat little counter attack. (Counter attacks are a lot more gruesome when performed on the boss, especially since it caused his stomach to open up and having his intestines hang out.)

 

The demo seems to have a better feeling than Sword of the Berserk for Dreamcast, but in Sword of the Berserk, Iím sure players liked the fact that you can travel through the stages and not just stay in one little area. I am assuming that the stage in the demo does this because Guts is after all defending the entrance to the castle. Perhaps in other stages he can actually travel through them.

 

Berserk arrives to retailers in Japan in October, no word yet on a US release. Hopefully I can get my hands on the finished Japanese version and write a full review.

 

- JíTonello

(September 10, 2004)

 

 

 

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