Review: Heavenly Sword

Oct 30, 2011

Few people remember Heavenly Sword. Such is the problem with the gaming world. We look forward and rarely backward. Sure, there are exceptions. We all remember Goldeneye, Ico, Ocarina of Time, and Mario 3. But within the decades spanning those titles are hundreds of incredible experiences just waiting to enter your mind. Heavenly Sword is such a title. Released in 2007 and developed by Ninja Theory (Enslaved: Odyssey of the West), you follow the journey of the beautiful Nariko whose clan has protected the Heavenly Sword for an unknown but seemingly long time. The evil King Bohan, voiced by Andy Serkis, plots to steal the sword and use it to do some really bad things to some really good people. It’s not the most original story ever, but it’s told better than most games you’ll play.

I found Heavenly Sword to be limited in player movement and gameplay. Although, the combat is excellent. You have 3 sword stances, similar to Jedi Academy (I know, weird reference right?), which work well together to chain combos. Many games that use the God of War-style button mashing generally have the same combos since there are a limited number of permutations. Oddly, I haven’t seen anyone mimic what Ninja Theory has done so well here. Some enemies are easily dispatched with these advanced combos and I can visualize new character types than the usual we see in these games. Speaking of visuals, the game looks great. The characters are very crisp and the environments are colorful which fits the world. The motion capture looks fluid as well. I really can’t complain about the looks or combat, other than the repetition of it.

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While you have several combos thanks to the 3 stances, you really only fight lowly soldiers and stronger more heavily armored soldiers. You’ll fight them early and often. The bosses are a challenge but once you figure out the pattern it’s pretty easy. Many games do this, so this isn’t a huge dig. As much as I love iteration, I don’t expect it from every game. Copies of Heavenly Sword are increasingly difficult to find. I strongly suggest this game for fans of the arena-battle, God of War games. I was fortunate to find it brand new for only $20 at a warehouse electronics store. They probably had it since 2007. Goozex is also a great resource!

 

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