Review: Heavenly Sword
3D Platformer/Adventure/Hack ‘n’ Slash
Goddess of poor.
Ok then I’ve been following this game in development for years, in fact this game has been in development since sometime last gen. While most of us were playing God of War Ninja, Theory were making the first truly next gen game………or where they playing God of War? This was the great white hope for PS3 and had carried a huge weight of expectation with Sony hoping it’d sell PS3’s and the public hoping it’d prove to be a reason for owning a PS3 in the first place.
‘So what do you think of it?’ I hear you ask, well it’s a bit like one of them Muller fruit corners. It’s got two distinctive parts to it and was once looked upon as a special treat, but now you can pick them up in cheap multipacks from the supermarket and it’s no longer as special a treat as it once was as we now have such a wide selection of yoghurts to choose from. (Interesting analogy – Ed)
Firstly, looks. The cut-scenes are amazing and the motion capture truly is the best i’ve seen in a videogame. Gollum, sorry Andy Serkis, plays the part of a despot to a t. He has just enough madness about him and his progression through the game really does show off his acting skills and really shames the acting you see in almost every other game. When people start going on about story and plot in games, point them in the direction of this game. Although the story is the same hocum which plagues most of the medium, the acting sets it apart and you will actually come to look forward to the next interlude. This is what I want from a games story, a bit of care and effort.
Now although this looks great in the CGI cut scenes and during the titles the actual gameplay suffers a lot. This game jerks along at certain sections, now this is probably due to loading happening back screen but when you consider this game installs onto your hard drive for 4 minutes before you can even play it you start to question whether it is the actual loading which is affecting the performance or whether it’s not just sloppy programming.
The second aspect of the yoghurt is the actual gameplay. Now it may be strange that i’ve managed to get half way through the review and only now do i start to mention the combat in this game. But when you consider how throwaway the actual mechanics are you would forgive me. You have three stances for you to use at your leisure, and shock and horror they are a slow and powerful one, a fast and weak one and a general all rounder. So far so generic. The game uses these stances to defeat particular baddies, certain baddies will glow a colour to indicate which stance you should use to defeat them, and if you don’t use that stance you are not going to defeat the baddie. To me this is a big loss for the game, if it allowed you to pick and choose the stances you used to defeat each baddie it’d make a much better and free flowing combat mechanic. Also the combat is heavily scripted, you can’t change during a combo to a different stance you have to wait for the animation to run before you can then change.
The issues around the combat also include the fact that the baddies only attack you one at a time. Now for a game which has been in development for a long time I expected to have a better combat experience, particularly when you consider its generally you versus 10 or 15 baddies at anyone time (see ‘Assassin’s Creed’ – Ed). But then when the camera is handled this badly and you often find yourself being attacked by people you can’t see on screen, you offer thanks that they only attack one at once.
It was a slow start software-wise for early adopters of the PS3 so when Heavenly Sword was released I was there on day one. The hype machine had been in overdrive for months, and expectations were that this was going to be an epic triple-A title and the first game to really show off the PS3’s power.
Unfortunatley, by epic what they really meant was about six hours of totally linear gameplay with no replay value whatsoever. What there is of it though is enjoyable for the most part and the combat is deep enough to reward those that want to put the effort in whilst not being so hard as to scare off the button mashers.
The main meat of the game is broken up by some archery levels when you get to control Nariko’s sister, and although these levels are fun they tend to drag on too long, leaving you begging for them to finish.
If you are desperate for some God Of War-style action and think this is right up your street do yourself a favour and rent it for a weekend. You’ll enjoy it twice as much knowing you did not spend forty notes on it.
Secondary Score: 6/10
Now while i’m talking about the combat I may as well talk about the projectile weapons and how the Sixaxis motion control is handled. To say these aspects break the game isn’t an understatement. The inherent problem with these sections is that when you naturally hold the any game pad you tend to hold it an a slight angle, have a look now and I’ll bet you you don’t hold it perfectly flat. So given that you hold the pad at an angle this means that when you shoot a bolt or a giant cannon ball, and don’t get me started on the ridiculousness of this, the first thing it does when it leaves your bow is to fly upwards or downwards because you have been holding the pad at an angle.
The thing with these sections is that they require good accuracy and are often conducted on some kind of time-limited basis, so you really should be able move the cursor across the screen quickly and shoot intuitivley. However you find yourself second guessing how you are holding the pad before you shoot to try and ensure that it is held level, and by the time you’ve thought about the pad you’ve just missed your oppertunity to shoot the baddie in the head. Just like many other PS3 games the motion control is tacked on and pointless for it, these sections break both the flow of the game and the also the enjoyment of the game.
So then in summary, this game looks great and if you want to show people what your PS3 is capable of then you wont go far wrong showing them some of the videos from this game. However the looks of the game seem to have taken precedance over the actual gameplay which is both slighlty old school and repetitive. And for that, even though I am a registered graphics whore, I can’t forgive it. Do yourself a favour and buy God of War on the cheap instead.