Just like the summer months they rode in on, the first wave of Playstation 3 titles has come and gone. Whether we were marveling at Motorstorm or simply resisting Resistance, the prospect of playing Singstar all Christmas is not sitting well with PS3 owners who are rightfully demanding a yuletide plethora of triple-A exclusive titles to play on their shiny black behemoth. And whilst this golden waterfall of games may not be engulfing the sea of unhappy gamers just yet, they can certainly pass some of the time with Ninja Theory’s much hyped Heavenly Sword.
This latest PS3 exclusive is an action adventure in the vain of Ninja Gaiden, God Of War, and Devil May Cry, and though its worth mentioning that Heavenly Sword never quite reaches the giddy heights set by the aforementioned franchises, it is certainly an enjoyable videogame in its own right. The generically overblown plot places you in control of an attractive redhead named Nariko, and chronicles her attempts to protect the sacred Heavenly Sword from the evil tyrant King Bohan.
It’s worth mentioning that the story is told particularly well; the game makes use of some refreshingly convincing and passionate voice acting which compliments Heavenly Sword‘s jaw-dropping cut scenes. In terms of in-game visuals however, it’s likely that a few PS3 owners will be left wanting, though the destructible environments and sheer number of enemies on screen at once are certainly impressive. It’s just not quite what we’ve been led to expect, either from Sony’s high-spec machine or the title itself, which has undoubtedly fallen victim to the hype machine in this respect. The scale of the environments on show here have been humilatingly bettered by its influences from the generation past, namely God of War, although there are rare occasions where Heavenly Sword is reminiscent of even Ico in its majesty. Strong words indeed.
Unfortunately for Heavenly Sword, the gameplay also falls somewhat short of expectation. Nariko’s sword feels flimsy; you never feel like you’re truly kicking enemy behind in the same way as Dante or Kratos. Couple this with a combo system which only reveals its true potential some way into the game, poorly implemented Sixaxis control (I found it easier to simply turn the motion control off during the game’s many ‘aftertouch’ sequences), tedious boss encounters, repetitive puzzles and troubling pacing issues and you’re left with a title that struggles to live up to both consumer expectation and the passion that’s clearly gone into creating it. Furthermore, forty pounds is a cheeky demand in exchange for the six or seven hours of adventure experienced with Nariko and Kai. The game is far too short.
There is enjoyment to be had with Heavenly Sword, but there’s a nagging feeling that the title needed to be twice as long to fully exploit this. The game doesn’t feel rushed however, what’s here is worthwhile despite its flaws, but any gamer worth his salt will wait for the imminent return of Dante and Ryu to satisy their brawling tendencies.