Review by redbuck

"Heavenly Sword - Not quite Heaven, but definitely not Hell"

Ever since I first saw this being advertised on TV, I've wanted this game A LOT. Four years later, I finally got it for Easter. When I popped that game into my PS3, guess what I saw... a beautiful Japanese girl with some killer sword-slashing moves, but are they worth the time & effort? I'll tell you what I know of the game, and let you decide.

-The Graphics-
Personally I don't care much about graphics, so if you're looking for an in-depth detail on the graphics, I'd say look at another review, however I will give a little insight on them. We all know about those sexy game characters, right? Whether you think that's creepy because they're video game characters or not, you have to admit that when you see something, you either like what you see or you don't. I liked what I saw, and it what made it even better is watching wind pick up while Nariko, the young woman defending her people, is in her range-stance, which I'll get into in the gameplay section. You can tell what everything is, and that's good enough for me. Moving on!

-The Sound-
Pretty good. That's all I can really say is pretty good. Nowadays everything in video games sound like they're supposed to sound. Swords clashing together, someone blocking a sword with their shield, and all that good stuff. The music however is fairly different. Lots of traditional Japanese-style music. It matches the situations very well, and you can actually feel the environment because of the music; your adrenaline rushing, your mind racing, etc. Good stuff.

-The Story-
Almost as important as gameplay in my opinion, the story is what keeps me going. Basically the story starts out telling you that the Heavenly Sword was sent from Heaven, and a blessed warrior was to come from Heaven with it; apparently that's not the case; Nariko is thought to be a curse. Starting out with a long sword, Nariko fights her way through bad guys sent by King Bohan, the main antagonist. Eventually you're surrounded with no other choice but to use the sacred Heavenly Sword, which is said to drain the wielder of their life force, but only when it decides to. Weird? I know, but it's all good. SO, you start to use it, you get away, find your mean ol' daddy, beat up a few bad guys, beat up some tougher bad guys (aka bosses), repeat, repeat, repeat. That's PRETTY MUCH it without spoiling too much.

-The Gameplay-
Ever played God of War? If so, this will be simple. If not, I'd advise reading the first paragraph just in case, but you CAN ignore it and read the paragraph after. It's fairly similar, but a bit different. Let's start with the similarities for those who've played God of War.

For one, the little button-pressing mini-games are here. When you weaken a boss to a certain point, you press circle, and it'll go into the mini-game. They're a little shorter timed than in God of War, so you have to be that much quicker about it, but otherwise the same concept. The chaos blades? Well... sort of, but I'll get into that in the next paragraph. ;) Square and Triangle are used as attack buttons, and you can chain them together to make combos. I'm sure I've forgotten something, but that should do it for the similarities.

How about what's different? Well for one, the mini-game button-presser thing added the left-analog stick, but in a different way. Instead of rotating it to a certain degree, you just tilt it in the direction arrows point to, and it's the same everytime, so even though it's faster, you can still get the hang of it. Also, I mentioned three stances earlier: The standard stance is the Speed Stance, which does moderate damage with high speed. Then there's the Range Stance, which does little damage at high speed, but in a larger area, and on multiple enemies. This can be used by holding L1 and pressing square or triangle. The last stance is the Power Stance. Attacks in this stance do high damage, but with low speed. This, as you may have guessed, can be accessed by holding down R1 instead of L1. Letting go of either R1 or L1 will switch back to Speed Stance. Personally I used the Speed Stance a lot more than the other two because it was just the easiest to use. Toward the end I started to use them a little more, but overall, Speed Stance is the most useful in my opinion.

Now, there are also parts where you get to play as Nariko's friend Kai. She's weird, but I love her. She uses a crossbow to "play" what she calls Twing Twang. I've read that Twing Twang means 'aim for the head', but I couldn't honestly tell someone that I know that for a fact. Anyway, you play as Kai and shoot people. The first two times playing as Kai, she remains stationary, so you don't have to worry about much. When shooting people with her crossbow, you can press and hold square to use aftertouch to control where Kai's bolts go. Want a head shot? Aim in the relative location of someone, then just control the bolt itself the rest of the way. Shoot it through fire to light it, then blow up some explosives; that'll learn'em! Later in the game, you'll play as Kai where you get to run around. She's pretty flexible and agile, so you can jump over obstacles such as crates that would normally be too high for you to go over. This really helps when you're trying to put some distance between yourself and the enemy.

-The Verdict-
Like I said before, I like Heavenly Sword, but it's too short of a game to be buy-worthy. I'd say definitely do not pass it up, rent it or borrow it from a friend, and if you like it enough, go ahead and buy it. It was a fairly enjoyable game, but it could've been better.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 04/12/10

Game Release: Heavenly Sword (US, 09/12/07)

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