At E3 2006 I was surprised by a game that came out of the blue and had interesting, exciting combat, a very cinematic style and a cool-looking character. On the show floor I played through the arena they showed twice, despite the lines and all the other things there were to see. It was Heavenly Sword, and it was the reason I finally broke down and bought a PS3.
I had a brief moment of doubt when the demo came out and I didn’t have as much fun as I did at E3… it seemed to be missing a sense of context, and the frame rate seemed worse. Nonetheless, since I had owned a PS3 for two months and still had no games, I bought it this weekend and cracked it out on Sunday.
I love it. Screw the people that gave it weak reviews. It’s got:
- Dazzling visuals: The game is beautiful from the character to the carnage, and never really breaks the polish.
- Great storytelling: Sure, itâ€™s a beat-em-up, but the story is simple but compelling, and contains some awesome moments.
- Incredible Audio: The voice acting is top-notch, and when I reached one of the bosses and heard her lilting pizzicato theme song, I realized that there was something really inspired going on.
- Memorable characters: Like a cast from Metal Gear Solid, the villains are over-the-top and tinged with humor. And Kai one of the most enjoyable characters I’ve seen in a game.
- Entertaining combat: The combat makes a button-masher look cool doing it, but also has some fine tactical decision-making. However, success does not hinge on memorization of crazy move strings… the actions and responses logically fit into the system of blocking and stances.
- Mass destruction: Anyone that knows me understands how I love Dynasty Warriors and being able to take down thousands. Part of that is the mild strategic decision-making, but the rest is being able to wade into a huge group and mix it up. Heavenly Sword is all about mass carnage, and the ability to ultimately litter the battlefield with corpses.
- â€œAftertouchâ€ ranged attacks: Holding the â€œthrowâ€ button after hurling or shooting an object allows you to steer it with the tilt axis, and it works surprisingly well (although it makes it hard as hell to have a cat on your lap as you play). It never gets old, and is a blast.
It’s clear that Sony put a tremendous amount of money behind this game. Often such flagrant spectacle can be wasted, but all the production values and great voice acting took a very high-quality brawler and turned it into a fantastic package to own. I’m glad my PS3 is finally getting a workout.