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Old 09-17-2007, 06:10 AM   #1
bapenguin
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[PS3] - Heavenly Sword


Title: Heavenly Sword
Platform: PS3
MSRP: $59.99
Editor: Nicholas 'bapenguin' Puleo



Heavenly Sword


With Lair somewhat of a disappointment, and Warhawk a multi player only title, PlayStation 3 owners have been hungry for a solid AAA single player experience. Hopes and expectations have been high for Heavenly Sword, and some are hoping it will help justify there $600 investment. While I don't think any one title is capable of that kind of justification, Heavenly Sword is definitely a piece of that puzzle.

Heavenly Sword is the tale of an ancient sword sent from the skies to help conquer evil in the world. Ironically, those who wield the sword are corrupted by it's power becoming evil themselves, and killing all those in its path. Heavenly Sword puts you in the shoes (or sandals) of Nariko, a fiery red head who needs to wield the Heavenly Sword to protect her clan on the brink of destruction from an evil king.


When the game was first shown, God of War comparisons were instantly drawn. It's very easy to see why, with button pressing cut scene sequences as well as a similar style of play and even a similar weapon with the split sword on chains. The developers even chose to adorn Kratos's armor and Blades of Athena in the kings armory, and there comes a time in the game where the story almost takes a blatant God of War story twist. All that being said the game was designed to have a core mechanic quite different from GoW. While GoW was all about offense and button mashing, Heavenly Sword is more about finese and counters. That's not to say you can't mash your way through the game, but it's quite obvious how the developers intended the game to be played.

Lets get right down to it, the game is absolutely beautiful. Bright vibrant colors span vast landscapes of waterfalls, huge mountains and forests with falling petals from trees in that classic Asian inspired way. During the in-engine cut scenes you will see the most realistic character faces to date, and I dare say it, they avoid the whole uncanny valley phenomenon. Each wrinkle and blemish is incredibly detailed, and when a character's face squishes up in anger it all looks incredibly convincing. The characters themselves are so full of life not only in look, but in voice and animation. Nariko's adopted sister Kai, the Twing-Twang girl, is particularly impressive with natural movements and some amazing voice acting. King Bohan, played by Andy Serkis of Gollum fame, is another standout character providing a full range of emotion and dialog as well as some great comedic relief. Sure it's all very cliche' and been done before, but it's rarely been done this well in a video game.

Like I said earlier, the game is more about reaction than action. Once in possession of the Heavenly Sword Nariko is capable of three stances; ranged, standard, and heavy. Enemy attacks come in these same three stances, and are colored to clue you in on what kind of attack is in incoming. By countering in the appropriate stance you are able to gain a significantadvantage on your opponent. Chain attacks and counters together to build up a combo meter, and in doing so you can not only unlock special attacks and more combos, but you'll unlock artworks, videos and other various behind the scenes content. The entire game isn't just a hack and slash, as various other mini-game style levels break up the action including firing cannons, launching rockets and of course...Twing-Twang.

Ok, so what the hell is twing-twang? It's shooting a cross bow. Yup, no lesbian action here, sorry Yahtzee Croshaw. At first I wasn't a huge fan of these sequences, finding the controls floaty. But the more I realized you were supposed to use the slow-motion steerable cam, ala reedeemer in Unreal Tournament, the more enjoyable I found them. There's something inherently satisfying by following an arrow across the battlefield, sailing over soldiers heads only to steer it into the crotch of one of their friends. In fact, anything you throw in the game can be slowed down and steered with the motion functions of the SIXAXIS controller. Honestly though, I found throwing the random objects in the game like tables, pots, and bodies pretty much ineffective. The other problem with the slow-mo motion steering sequences is these are the ONLY puzzles in the game. Basically strategically placed shields are thrown and steered into gongs to open doors and drop bridges. And just to mix things up, sometimes you have to bounce the shields off a wall, or a strategically placed statue to complete the puzzle. It all feels very forced, and really is the only weak element of the game.

That's not to say the game isn't without other problems. As gorgeous as the game is, it does have it's slowdowns and hiccups. In some of the larger battle sequences I experience audio pops and dropouts. That being said, these are minor and take no enjoyment away from the short title. And it is a short title. My total playtime with deaths and restarts was just under 6 hours, completed in about 3 play sessions. That's a tough pill to swallow for someone that just dropped $60 on a game, not to mention $600 on a system.

Heavenly Sword really sets the bar high when it comes to character detail and emotion. It's rare to see such high production values and attention to detail, watch the making of videos on the Heavenly Sword site to get an idea of what went into creating these animations, details and emotions. The bottom line is Heavenly Sword is an amazing title with very few flaws. I honestly think if the game was much longer it would have been drug out and simply gotten to boring and repetitive. If you are looking for a game that sets yourPlayStation 3 apart from other systems, right now Heavenly Sword is it.



Score:

4 out of 5 Evil Eyes


The Good:
+ Incrediblely detailed characters and emotion
+ Fluid fighting system
+ Gorgeous graphics with huge draw distances
+ Top notch voice acting

The Bad:
- Some slowdowns and audio issues
- Only 6 hours of gameplay with limited replayability

The Ugly:
- Lame gong puzzles


Last edited by bapenguin; 09-17-2007 at 09:03 AM..
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Old 09-17-2007, 06:40 AM   #2
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Nice writeup Bap. I'll check this out when I get a PS3 again. Graphics look gorgeous and it sounds like it plays well too.

But 6 hours of gameplay?? yikes!
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Old 09-17-2007, 06:40 AM   #3
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Sounds nice for a "Greatest Hits" title but sure not for $60... I'll wait patiently~
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Old 09-17-2007, 06:42 AM   #4
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That solidifies that it'll be a rental or $20 pickup for me. Probably both.
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Old 09-17-2007, 06:53 AM   #5
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Good review Bap.

I think the most impressive thing about the game seems to be how it has nigh-realistic models who have skipped right over the Uncanny Valley. That's an impressive feat, in my books.

You really need to have the Penny Arcade comic about the hats somewhere in your review though
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Old 09-17-2007, 07:10 AM   #6
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I absolutely loved it, and it works incredibly well as a "filler" game that I can play through while waiting for new titles to come out. A short as it is, I don't feel that the game's price tag is unjustified.
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Old 09-17-2007, 07:14 AM   #7
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4 out of 5 for only 6 hours of gameplay?

I always struggle with this. If it's the best 6 hours of gaming you can find anywhere, then I guess that's okay. If it's a good solid 6 hours of fun, then I guess it's okay. But somehow, 6 hours is just seems like a rip off at 60 bucks and should count off more than you show. That's 10 dollars an hour.

But yeah, I watched the clips of them doing the motion capture stuff and the faces were amazingly done.

Glad you liked it and I'm glad PS3 owners are finally getting some quality titles.
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Old 09-17-2007, 07:37 AM   #8
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Thanks Bap for the awesome review. It is nice to see some PS3 reviews coming. Unfortunately, this isn't going to be one I buy though. Maybe a rental...

I read somewhere about a study that game designers underwent years ago to determine the value of arcade games. It was determined that players found $0.25 to be worth somewhere between 3 and 5 min of play time, so games were designed to let you play 3-5 min for a quarter.

As Vermillion points out, this title is around $10 an hour (about $0.17 a min) or $0.83 for 5 min of play time. This makes me realize that the standard 'game time - per dollar' ratio has changed dramatically since video games have moved out of the arcade and into the home. These days, people expect to pay $50-$60 for a game that ranges from 12-40+ hours. I look at the 200 plus hours I've put into my Pokemon Diamond as a damn good deal.
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Old 09-17-2007, 07:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Like I said earlier, the game is more about reaction than action. Once in possession of the Heavenly Sword Nariko is capable of three stances; ranged, standard, and heavy. Enemy attacks come in these same three stances, and are colored to clue you in on what kind of attack is in incoming. By countering in the appropriate stance you are able to gain a significantadvantage on your opponent.
So... basically, its Simon?

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Old 09-17-2007, 07:57 AM   #10
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At six hours of playtime, I really don't care how great the game is. It could literally be the best game that has ever, and will ever, be published but I just can't justify spending $60 on a game that lasts 6 hours.

It's good that the PS3 has gotten another really good game, but from what I've been reading, most people on various message boards will be renting HS. What the PS3 needs are games that people want to buy.
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:46 AM   #11
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well, considering so far i've played just shy of 4 hours, and i'm about to start chapter 3, i'm thinking it's going to take me more than 6 hours. At any rate, the game is sheer bliss to play (i'm having a blast with the aftertouch stuff - despite what some have said about it). I'd rate it on par with God of War.

Gamespot really said it best - it's like the video game equivalent to a summer blockbuster. Pure spectcale.

And with regards to length, as long as the 6 hours remain awesome, the length doesn't bother me in the slightest - I played through all 4 hours of Onimusha wit ha big stupid grin on my face back in the day.
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:50 AM   #12
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So... basically, its Simon?

Ever played God of War?
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:53 AM   #13
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Ever played God of War?
No, but it sounds quite similar. Frankly, I havent played anything on my PS2 in probrably 2 years. Since the 360 came out, PS2 games started making my eyes bleed when I look at them
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:54 AM   #14
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No, but it sounds quite similar. Frankly, I havent played anything on my PS2 in probrably 2 years. Since the 360 came out, PS2 games started making my eyes bleed when I look at them
Graphics whore.
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:58 AM   #15
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Sounds like a great rental.
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Old 09-17-2007, 09:06 AM   #16
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I'd be interested in learning from the guys who rate this a rental-only what the last game was that they did buy. Just for comparison.
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Old 09-17-2007, 09:09 AM   #17
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I'd be interested in learning from the guys who rate this a rental-only what the last game was that they did buy. Just for comparison.
I just purchased Metroid Prime 3 (10 hours into it) and Eternal Sonata (preorder).
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Old 09-17-2007, 09:09 AM   #18
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I'd be interested in learning from the guys who rate this a rental-only what the last game was that they did buy. Just for comparison.
I'm saying it looks like a rental only, and the last 2 games I bought were Warhawk and Jeanne d'Arc. Heavenly Sword looks great, and like it's a lot of fun, but it falls far too short on content to be worth $60.
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Old 09-17-2007, 09:14 AM   #19
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Sorry, I don't mean to derail the thread so please feel free to PM if you wish to let me know. Thanks!
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Old 09-17-2007, 09:15 AM   #20
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Anybody know if these are being sold back to gamestop at a high frequency given the length of the game? I'd probably just rent the game if I had a PS3, as I'm not much of a collector of games, but it seems to me with the short playtime some near mint condition copies should be reasonably available for a discount at gamestop after the kids finish this in an afternoon.
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