Review by Voilodion

"A Very Unorthodox Game with Amazing Graphics"

Flashy swordplay is the best word I can use to describe this title. That is the epitome of the game that is "Bujingai: The Forsaken City". Many fans scoff at this game simply because it was an obvious cash-in to make more money for a famous Japanese pop singer by the name of Gackt Camui. Fortunately, "Bujingai" is not limited only to Gackt's feminine demeanor; it has many other qualities that make it stand above the average hack and slash department. Swordplay and graphics both contribute to this title's success (it was actually was fairly successful in the Land of the Rising Sun). Gackt is merely a marketing aspect, although I must admit that his inclusion makes for the strangest video game protagonist that I have ever witnessed in my entire history as an avid gamer. Anybody expecting a tough-as-nails hero with a gruff demeanor and a savage body is going to be seriously dissapointed when playing this title. Anyway, as I stated before, the game is more than just that aspect.

Aesthetic beauty is a phrase that really hits the center of attention in "Bujingai". The swordplay in "Bunjigai" is amazingly choreographed; I have rarely seen such smooth movement in the simple attack animations of the main character. Just tap the square button and Lau (the protagonist) will begin dancing around swinging his twin enormous swords with such grace and agility that one could advertise this game simply based on that element alone. Both of Lau's swords have gorgeous rainbow-colored trails that will actually change in hue depending on the ferocity of the player's attack. If that wasn't enough, the developers also included a defense and counterattack system in order to immitate the magical Kung-Fu fight scenes seen in so many Hong Kong films. There is a whole emphasis on the notion of two swordfighters parrying like madmen and never actually striking each other. They simply engage in this...colorful dancing festival that goes on and on until one opponent dodges out of the way or breaks the block of the other opponent. During some of the battles with other swordfighters; I felt as if I could almost hear the theme music from "Once Upon a Time in China" pounding in the background. The swordplay really does get that engaging and that enticing; especially against other enemies who know how to use swords as efficiently as the player does.

Also when I say smooth movement, I literally mean smooth movement. This is one of the very few PS2 titles I have seen that can look extremely flashy and detailed, yet still retain an unwavering, solid frame rate. The frame rate practically stays immutable throughout this whole adventure; Lau looks just as smooth in the beginning as he does in the end. Thus, as he descends through his adventure, the enemies he meets also become fancier and the whole experience justs gets flashier and more sparkly from beginning to end. Although, I must admit that the final level is a bit too flashy, and that did result in a slowdown one time (way too many special effects). However, that was only one instance and the fact that the rest of the game is silky smooth makes it a highly attractive visual experience.

Another topic I would like to bring up is this game in comparison to "Devil May Cry". Yes, I have read the preceeding reviews, and quite a lot of people insist upon setting this game right up to the champion of PS2 games and seeing how it fares. Well, in that case the game fails miserably; there is no way a mute protagonist with twin swords can compete against a battle-hardened demon hunter with a huge sword and twin pistols. "Devil May Cry" was built on the basis of "STYLE", and this game only scratches that aspect. It does have a ranking system that rates how impressive one's visual presentation was during a level; however, that's very minor in comparison to "DMC" and it's ranking system per enemy. Anyway, "Bujingai" is in no way comparable to "DMC". These titles are like two seperate entities in both their presentation and gameplay. I could far more easily compare "Bujingai" to the acclaimed "Shinobi" or "Otogi", simply because it's focus on aesthetic beauty overrides it's demand for fast-paced action (and because of the familiar settings these three games share). "Bujingai" is like a sweetened drink of tea for the gamer, while "DMC" is outright Coca-Cola. However, games that "Bujingai" is better than include "Chaos Legion", "Gungrave", "Van Helsing", "Blood Will Tell", and even "DMC2". These aforementioned were either failures in the critics or failures among the customers. "DMC1" was neither. Personally, the only aspect I think "Bujingai" rules in when compared to "DMC" is the fact that the camera always manages to stay much closer to Lau than it ever did with Dante. It gets even closer when Lau engages in a sword battle, allowing the action to be experienced at a much deeper level.

Another note; about the game's story. Well...the story is frustrating because it tries to present twists that don't really work and the end result is something indecipherable. The best way I can describe it is that (to me) it seemed very reminiscent of Ryuhei Kitamura's movie "Versus" with a similar love triangle and the same kind of time-loop setup. Although I must admit that this is a very rough comparison considering that the only comedy in "Bujingai" comes from it's outrageously bad english voiceover. Lau's master is utterly hilarious in his presentation and I memorized all of his dialogue in one play-through. This is a game that would have most certainly benefited from the inclusion of a Japanese language track. Although even at that, I could hardly take the story seriously considering the main character is all looks (feminine looks) and hardly any personality (no lines).

Overall, "Bujingai" is definately a memorable experience. At a standard $20 price, this is a title that any casual gamer should look for. Competitive gamers looking for the newest and hottest games with the baddest graphics and sound should stay clear of this one. Like I said before, this is a cup of tea, not a cup of Coke.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 06/29/05

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