Developer: Ninja Theory
Release Date: 9/12/2007
Available Exclusively On
When a brand new game console launches we all look toward the games they launch with to really show us what the console is capable of. There have been some failed system launches with either very few games or just poor ones. The PS3 was not such a console, especially with Heavenly Sword backing it and wowing gamers across the world. Heavenly Sword puts the characters, Nariko and Kai, in your hands as you battle an evil warlord trying to take over your clan’s land.
Right from the start of the game you get introduced to sweeping epic landscapes, amazing graphics, beautiful sounds, and a great, albeit simple, combat system. For being a launch title the game has excellent production values and they really shine for the PS3.
The most important part of Heavenly Sword is the combat system and it never falters. You don’t receive the Heavenly Sword until a bit into the game, but once you do you are welcomed to three different fighting styles on the fly. Instead of having to stop the game and switch styles, you can use them by just holding down a button. You are always in “speed” mode which breaks the sword into two swords while L1 puts you in “range” mode which is kind of like Kratos’ chain swords in God of War (which Heavenly Sword receives its nickname “Goddess of War”), and lastly holding down R1 puts you in “power” mode. There are a good amount of combos that let you switch in and out of these styles with amazing animations and a cinematic sweeping camera. Another element of the gameplay is the counter system. The enemy will glow the color of the style you need to be in to counter. Standing still is an automatic block so hitting an attack button at the right time will perform a killer counterattack.
On top of this, you play as Kai who has a deadly semi-automatic crossbow that can be controlled with “aftertouch” which is controlled with the SixAxis motion controls. This was one of the first games to really utilize the SixAxis with bone-crunching and nasty kills from guided bows or anything else you can hurl at the enemy.
Puzzles in the game aren’t really a challenge since there aren’t many of them, but the bosses are. Each boss has multiple health bars, and once you get one knocked down you initiate a button-pressing sequence by hitting circle (sounds just like God of War). Some bosses are just downright hard and seem impossible to beat, but remembering their attacks is the key.
Not only does the game look and sound amazing, but the story is riveting and so is the acting. With full motion capture sequences, this game has some of the most realistic facial animations I have ever seen. With Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings, Ink Heart) as a director and actor on board, you are treated with amazing work.
If the combat isn’t satisfying enough for you there are epic battles where you fight thousands of soldiers on-screen at once. Shooting a cannon and using aftertouch is just so satisfying, especially towards the end of the game. If you are also curious about collecting items you can unlock stuff by doing certain tasks or meeting certain goals in each section of the game. With such a beautiful game you would want to see how it was made.
If I had to see a flaw in Heavenly Sword it would be that the game is extremely short clocking in at 4-6 hours depending on your playstyle. You could literally beat this in one or two long play sessions. The game also has some technical issues with some slow down and occasional choppy animation. The combat is also a bit shallow and a tad too button mashy. Other than that I can’t wait for the sequel to be announced, but it has been over 3 years and no word, so I feel this great new IP has been abandoned.