Sun, Sep. 30th, 2007, 07:21 pm
Heavenly Sword - My Review
There are times when you feel - Why do we play games? Is it because we want to fulfill our fantasies in the form of a pixelated character on screen or is it because we want to hear a new story, the desire to learn more by playing the game or is it because of that visceral satisfaction we get out of beating the characters on screen either in wits or in battle. Because if we do play games for any of the aforementioned, Heavenly Sword is one of those games that lets you do it all.
Heavenly Sword starts with the premise of the death of the protagonist, Nariko; a female warrior who is shunned by her clan because she is the failure of a prophecy, which of course leads her clan-mates to believe that she will be the downfall of the clan. All of this while her clan needs to safeguard an ancient, mythical and powerful weapon, the Heavenly Sword from the clutches of those who seek to misuse its power. This of course leads to the introduction of the antagonist, King Bohan, who is as unscrupulous as any videogame villain can get and is out to get the Heavenly Sword by any means. This is the basic story with which the game begins.
The first thing you will notice about the game is the graphics. The magnificent backdrops which immediatly transport you into a fantasy world; the immaculate detail in the surroundings and beautiful colours, all of which leave you in awe. Though there are times when the game suffers from frame rate drops and lags a bit, though none of it bothers too much. The character models in the game are rendered with absolute detail, the most noticeable of which is the facial textures. The facial textures are probably one of the high points of the game, so visible by the natural sheen on the face of Nariko. Every emotion ranging from anger to frustration to triumph is well exhibited in the character models. Another reason why you feel this is because of some excellent voice-overs in this game. With one of the industry stalwarts in the form of Andy Serkis leading the Dramatic Direction you cannot expect anything less. For people who are unaware of who Andy Serkis is- he is the person behind the voice of Gollum (Lord Of The Rings) and that of King Kong. The combination of the emotion, the facial motions and voice overs almost makes this an action movie which you are playing out in your living room. The story is full of humorous moments which are so well played out that you are almost chuckling to yourself, particularly those that involve King Bohan. The music in the game also allows for that cinematic mood. The music ranges from moody to dark with dollops of Indian classical. Nitin Sawhney, the man responsible for the music direction has done a very competent job in his very first venture in videogames. The mood of this game is indeed so heavy with the audio and visuals that you tend to forget that this is actually not a movie.
And the most important thing about any game is the gameplay. Heavenly Sword is a third person action adventure game, where the protagonist wields swords as her main weapons. This inevitably brings about comparisons with other greats of the genre, including God Of War and Ninja Gaiden, and though it does quite not make that mark Heavenly Sword almost makes the cut. The combat system in Heavenly Sword primarily comprises of three stances - Fast, Ranged and Power. And as the name implies the three stances are for quick and fast close-combat, lashing out at enemies at a distance and dealing the enemy heavy damage respectively. You can also counter the enemy combat by properly timed button presses. The enemies also employ these stances and you have to beat/counter enemy in their respective stances. Though the game starts out fairly easy it quickly becomes imperative for you not to button mash and use the combos properly. The combos are vast and varied, right from aerial to super-special moves which quickly finish off the enemy with a short but beautifully rendered cut-scene. This is one of the drawbacks of the game where it is felt that you need not use all the combos and you are well entitled to finish the game with only handful of them. Heavenly Sword also puts heavy emphasis on the usage of Six-Axis. Every projectile motion in the game, arrows, cannon balls and even dead enemies, once shot can be guided to its destination by using Six-Axis motion. This is actually great usage of the motion-sensor feature and also gives a fresh angle to the game though it takes a bit getting used to it. The game employs two playable characters to keep things from getting tedious in the form of Nariko and Kai, her young adopted friend/sister. Playing with Kai is fun as she cannot deal out melee combat and only makes use of projectile weapons. Her character is well developed and makes a strong impact on the story. The game also uses the feature of Quick Timed Events, much like God of War, which involves deft button presses at apppropriate moments, these are generally used for style efffects. The camera is done well enough though at times you would feel the need of free-moving camera particularly when you want to focus on a particular enemy you want to finish off. There is lot of stuff that you unlock in this game right from concept art, movies, The Making Of Heavenly Sword and so on, which goads the player to re-play the game though he has completed it once.The game is not very difficult and an average gamer can expect to complete the game anywhere between seven to ten hours. That being said, the game falls on the short side and again aks the question - Are you willing to pay sixty dollars for a mere six-seven hours?
That question is for you to answer. If you want a game that provides you a cinematic story and a great audio-visual treat along with some fun gameplay to boot, this is the game for you. If you are of the type that likes to spend long hours with a game and want really deep gameplay, you would probably want to rent or borrow this. Either way, you should not pass up on Heavenly Sword because not often does a game make you feel that epic drama can also be experienced from videogames and not just books and movies.
Now Playing: Playstation 3: Ninja Gaiden Sigma - Chapter 18
Wed, Oct. 3rd, 2007 09:31 am (UTC)
(Anonymous): NOT ONE MORE....
So, you finally transform your blog into one of those rating sites, stamping your approval/disapproval on new releases.
Or may I assume that it is only a passing fad.
Wed, Oct. 3rd, 2007 03:13 pm (UTC)
oceansandearth — : Re: NOT ONE MORE....
Awww, BUT you DO know what they say about the word ass-u-me? It tends to make an ass out of YOU and me :P
Thu, Oct. 4th, 2007 06:12 am (UTC)
(Anonymous): Re: NOT ONE MORE....
What an eye-opener!!!
Mon, Oct. 8th, 2007 01:30 pm (UTC)
I played a bit of it, and let's just say it's pretty, fun to play and easy to jump in, but another God of War it is NOT.
And let me let you in on a secret. They had a whole lot more planned for the game, but budgetary constraints made them cut this one down to size. Expect lots and lots of sequels on the same engine.