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Platform

Playstation 3

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

Ninja Theory

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

September 12, 2007

 

 

- Some really good combo possibilities

- Awesome production values

- "Hell Mode" extends the play value

 

 

- Feels repetitive even in short sittings

- Unskippable cutscenes!

- Besides looking awesome, doesn't really separate itself from the pack

 

 

Review: Dynasty Warriors: Gundam (PS3)

Review: Ninja Gaiden Sigma (PS3)

Review: Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (360)

 

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Heavenly Sword

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

It’s hard not to be captivated by how gorgeous Heavenly Sword looks – from possibly the best cutscenes in years to the flow of the action and attention to detail, this is one pretty looking and sounding game.  Be warned though, the charm is mostly skin deep.

 

heavenly sword          heavenly sword

Nariko's octopus-like hair can be distracting but the combos are fun to watch.

 

Heavenly Sword is generally broken up into deliberate sections.  Typically, it’s bash a wave or two of bad guys, flip through a Dragon’s Lair-type action sequence, watch a deftly-acted cutscene, fight some more bad guys, then repeat it all over again, though not always in the same sequence.  It only feels rote if you sit down and play for more than an hour or two.  The combo list expands throughout the game for the three different “fighting styles” which are activated while holding down specific buttons and come into play depending on what kind of foes you face, but that doesn’t really feel like it changes up the action to any

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significant degree.  The combos themselves prove to be quite complex, and developer Ninja Theory has even made use of the sixaxis motion control. (Example: Shaking the control when knocked into the air activates a counter which results in an instant kill.)

 

Where the motion control really comes into play is with “after touch”

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which essentially allows you to steer airborne objects to their destination after they’ve been thrown or fired.  Whole sections of the game rely on this conceit and for some it proves to be a difficult undertaking.  It’s fortunate then that the motion control can be switched off and objects steered with the left analog stick.

 

heavenly sword          heavenly sword

There are times when you'll play as Nariko's monkey-ish sister in scenes reminiscent of the shooting found in Gears of War (left); Nariko looks up a hill (right).

 

Ninja Theory gives us that control option (which should be a given for all games) but we still can’t skip the cutscenes!  As awesome as the production values are for the cutscenes, I’m of the mind that we should only be forced to watch cutscenes once.  After that, let me skip ‘em, especially if it’s triggered soon after a checkpoint.

 

Action games tend to come under fire for “not being long enough.”  Heavenly Sword will run you about 6 – 7 hours but as an action game that’s about all we can really expect from a title that wants to tell a spin a narrow tale.  In this case, Heavenly Sword doesn’t overstay its welcome.  The fact it’s a “short” game doesn’t take away from what is there, even if it is straightforward in its approach to the genre (outside of the “after touch” controls).

 

- Omni

(October 31, 2007)

 

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