Heavenly Sword Review
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The environments, cast, characters, storyline, and virtually everything in Heavenly Sword is astonishing. While there are some minor negatives, players should be prepared to experience a spiritual disclosure with Ninja Theory’s latest masterpiece.
- Unforgettable atmosphere combined with ample replay value.
- Beautifully detailed with everything in harmony from animation all the way to the audio system.
- Great combat system complimented by impressive A.I
- Enemy models can sometimes get repetitive
- Poor Loading Times.
(continued from previous page) ...is more gratifying. The battle technicalities don’t make use of a block button. Nariko will attempt to automatically block attacks, but you need to match the incoming attack stance of the enemy with the proper stance in order to properly block it. Luckily, enemies glow a certain color just before their attack to clue you in as to which stance to take.
The A.I. is very intelligent in this game and truly unique in its own respect. The enemies recognize your stances and adapt to it, forcing you to come up with something new to defeat them. Lastly, an important move to note is the 'counter-attack' and 'cross fusion'. With the former, when timed right, an impressive animation will begin which shows Nariko really teach the enemy a lesson by brutal bone fractures. In displaying a cross fusion, the most intricate fighting system to date, you can mix stances in between moves. So, if you’re coming at an enemy with a blow to the groin, you can implement speed to grind the sword around that area. In addition to this nice transition is the interconnection with the environment, especially the enemies’ bodies, allowing you to pick up and throw your foes corpses at incoming opponents.
Graphically, Heavenly Sword is glorious. The details through the entire game are made possible by an unimpeachable performance by the cast, which makes Heavenly Sword the first game in history to use full motion capturing. Andy Serkis does an amazing job as the Dramatic Producer, and Anna Torv as Nariko gives a similarly eye-catching performance. Giving the perfect performance as giddy girl who loves to be crazy, Lydia Baksh gives the Kai sequences a comedic touch to Heavenly Sword---for people not too much into a hardcore dark story with a plot surrounding solely upon death and domination.
The boss battles are spectacular. Even though they have a series of pattern recognition type attacks, where you attempt to figure out their weakness and then attempt to win strategically, the environments and fighting styles present realistic displays. The tactics are unique to use—and constantly using triangle doesn’t help you, something that many players in earlier builds thought they could get away with. The bosses are amped up and so are the enemies—so don’t think triangle is your only sole source of support anymore.
Aside from the flawless visuals, character detail and dramatic performance, is the life-like audio. With every fighting move Nariko delivers, anyone with an adept skill at picking up nuances in sound can detect the reaction from the music. If she smashes the enemy’s body, a huge drum is heard that adapts. If she flings the body to various other enemies, the music dramatically picks up in pace for a short while and soon rescinds to a calm flow of travel. The sounds are crystal clear, the effects are sharp and precise, and everything is spot on.
Heavenly Sword contains a myriad of unlockables, including behind-the-scenes DVD style featurettes, character art, almost every trailer, and specific area focuses such as animation and other such aspects. You can earn many tokens by points you get for a chapter’s battle, and you can go back to any sub-chapter to strive for a higher point count to utilize for unlockables. Most of all the bonus content is superb, but some can be downloaded online—not all of it. From all of this, the replay value skyrockets.
The only real problem is that you only fight the same soldier types for most of the game, with the exception of the incredible bosses. The soldiers range from basic to greatly armored to bow casters and ninja’s. At certain spots, there are different types of enemies, but the actual amalgamation of the enemy variety lacks. Despite this, Ninja Theory aimed for processing power and not so much as diverse character models. So, this slight lack of enemy variety isn’t exactly deal breaker.
Heavenly Sword really allows the players to focus in on the story and battle system realistically and immersively. Over a total of 2,700 animations for the enemy AI alone, Heavenly Sword is enough to get players ... (continued on next page)