By Dan Zuccarelli . September 21, 2007 . 3:04pm
I've been looking forward to getting my hands on the full version of Heavenly Sword for quite some time. I've played various demos at E3 and on my PS3 and while I enjoyed it wasn't totally blown away. I was hoping the full game would expand enough to make it one of the first must-own PS3 titles.
The premise of Heavenly Sword is a simple one. An ancient clan is in charge of keeping a sacred sword safe (obviously the Heavenly Sword). Nariko is a part of the clan but some some reason is looked at as a curse on the clan. Maybe it's her red hair or the fact that EVERYONE around her looks asian and she looks Persian. Which in and of itself is no big deal, but she looks Asian in the loading screens and completely different in-game, which is a little confusing. Doesn't affect the game in anyway, but it's hard to miss. Anyway, back to the story… problem with sacred swords is that there's usually some crazy power-hungry jerk willing to do anything to get it. Bastards.
In Heavenly Sword that job is taken by King Bohan, played to perfection by Andy Serkis (the guy who played Gollum in Lord of the Rings). He's got a few henchman that aren't in any way realistic, like a half fish girl and some dude that can teleport around. The whole thing takes on the air of a campy kung-fu movie. Serkis' performance is so over the top that it borders on fantastic. I don't mean that in a bad way at all, the story line is nothing special but the cut-scenes (done by WETA Workshop) and the voices make it work. And work well.
Even Nariko's C-R-A-Z-Y sidekick Kai, who rambles on and is so sing-songy that is should be laughably bad, but her mannerisms and wide eyes somehow make her endearing. Well not completely, this girl truly is batshit insane. But she is a lot of fun to watch, and her missions are pretty cool too… So long as you turn off the motion controls BEFORE you even start the game.
The game's combat system is definitely inspired by God of War, right down to the "swords on chains" attacks. It's fun slicing and dicing scores of enemies, and I do mean scores. Sometimes there's Dynasty Warrior levels of enemies on the screen, and the game never hiccups.
One thing I can't stand is that there's no block button. If you're not attacking, you'll automatically block. I'm sorry but there should be a block button. I don't want to sit there pressing nothing on the controller and having my character on screen do stuff. I want to be involved and have Nariko block when I say. It's a little lame, but after a bit you get used to it.
My only other issue is the inability to jump. It may not seem like a big deal, and the game is designed not to NEED it but it's noticeable in it's absence. Video games have been around now for over 20 years, and the PS3 is capable of pushing some truly remarkable stuff… don't tell me there's no way I shouldn't be able to jump around.
I'll state this next point plainly. This game is short. Like REAL short. I beat in a little over 7 hours and 30-40 minutes of that was the final boss battle. Normally I wouldn't have anything bad to say about the length of a game, as long as the narrative is nice and tight. But here I felt like the game starts halfway through the storyline and we just get to see the climax of it. At times it felt like the game was really the final stage of a much longer game. In a way it's a compliment cause you really want the game to be longer.
It's a fun game, but with the short length and no real reason to play through a second time, I can't whole-heartedly endorse it. If you like this style of game you'll definitely dig it, but know that the experience is short lived.