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Heavenly Sword

BySara

May 21, 2006

Of the games at Sony’s E3 2006 press conference, none looked more engaging than Heavenly Sword. Others looked interesting, but Heavenly Sword showed the most style and fluid action…the types of things that would actually keep us playing the game.
Steeped in wushu combat, the same fantastical and mid-air fighting made famous in movies like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” Heavenly Sword is an action fan’s dream. Button mashers will have fun fighting groups of enemies with wushu flair, while more-accomplished fans of games like Devil May Cry will appreciate the depth of combinations and weapon variety. (To see a video of Heavenly Sword in action, click here.)
Heavenly Sword PS3 screenshot
Sony’s not revealing much about the plot, but since the plot drives the gameplay forward, certain key facts are important to know. In a nutshell, a woman named Nariko is looking for revenge against an invading king whose army destroyed her clan and left unprotected the Heavenly Sword, which once belonged to a god. As the unexpected “chosen one” (Nariko’s clan expected its savior to be a man), the heroine can use Heavenly Sword and its three different powers/stances. However, since Nariko is a mortal, the Heavenly Sword gradually drains her life. This means players only have a certain amount of time to defeat not only each level, but the entire game, before Nariko dies.
Heavenly Sword PS3 screenshot
The actual combat plays out like many third-person action games, sometimes in one-on-one scenarios and sometimes in one-on-many. At E3, we got our hands on just one of the one-on-many situations: an arena location inside just one of the game’s large cities. Wave after wave of enemy attacked, each with different armor, weapons and weak points. This allowed us to switch the Heavenly Sword’s stances on the fly to change our fighting style and, as a result, expose each enemy’s unique weakness.
Heavenly Sword PS3 screenshot
With buttons for power attacks, quick attacks, jumps and counters, Heavenly Sword feels like most fighting games currently available, but the group combat makes the action much more frantic. In fact, some situations compelled us to throw parts of the environment (tables, stools, boxes) at oncoming enemies just to slow them down and buy us some time. On a few occasions, we even threw enemies into one another using the “aftertouch” control.
Heavenly Sword PS3 screenshot
Considering the demo at E3 was an arena, much of the level’s pacing was scripted, but Sony assured us that the enemy AI will be boosted before the PS3-exclusive game actually ships. Oddly enough, though, it was one such scripted event that looked the most impressive.
After defeating the multiple waves of combatants, the level’s boss hopped into the arena to try and achieve what his minions could not: victory. The fight itself played out much like the rest of the demo, with Nariko needing to switch fighting styles on occasion to keep the boss guessing. As the boss’ life grew shorter we entered a sort of “death lock” that was followed by various on-screen button prompts. By pressing the buttons in the right order and at the right time, we were able to control the ensuing in-game cutscene that took Nariko and the arena boss dozens of feet above ground to do battle. Presuming all the button presses were correct, Nariko did one final finishing move and sent the boss tumbling to the ground in an untimely demise.
Heavenly Sword PS3 screenshot
Considering all this cinematic action, the camera is automatic rather than user-controlled, but user control is one detail the developer is still trying to iron out. Presuming the rest of Heavenly Sword is as compelling as the E3 demo, though, such details will really be more housecleaning items than anything else. The big-picture stuff, the style and action and fun factor, are already in place. And for a third-person action game, a genre that often falters in those three areas, that’s saying an awful lot.
— Jonas Allen

By Sara

My name is Sara Anslee, I live in Colorado. I am very fond of gaming, writing, and blogging. I share the latest news and tips about sports games, video games, gaming movies, gaming devices, and accessories. I also love watching movies and traveling.