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Heavenly Sword
by Greg McDougal

It’s been almost a year since the Playstation 3 has launched and to this date, the exclusive titles that have been worthwhile are and so far have been few and far between.  Developer Ninja Theory is hoping to change all of that with the release of “Heavenly Sword.”  This game has been labeled the “Female God of War.”  Does it live up to that label?  No, only because the further you dig into the game, it becomes a different experience.
Players assume the role of Nariko, who at the very beginning of the game dies, thanks to the “Heavenly Sword,” which slowly drains the life force out of those who wield the huge weapon.  In a style similar to “God of War,” you play five days before this happens to see what led up to this point.  Along the way you realize the Nariko’s tribe is in danger as King Bohan is using tyranny to bring “his form or order to the world.”  It just so happens he needs the “Heavenly Sword” to do this.


The gameplay is first class from start to finish.  In the beginning you only have your broadsword, which by itself is capable of putting someone in a trauma center.  Once you acquire the “Heavenly Sword,” that is when the gameplay mechanics change up a bit.  While having the notorious weapon, there are three stances, each with their own move sets.  They are known as the “Power Stance,” Speed Stance,” and “Range Stance.”  Knowing which stance to use at the appropriate time brings depth to what would otherwise seem as a button masher.  There are segments where you control Nariko’s sister Kai, who controls differently from her sibling.  These are mainly sniping missions where you shoot arrows and guide them with the Playstation 3’s Sixaxis control functionality.  These are more of a hit and miss, as controlling Nariko is more fun and you will want these missions to be over just so you can resume control of the red-haired powerhouse.

When it comes to visuals, words cannot justify how beautiful this game looks.  Playing this game on a HDTV running at 1080p is breathtaking.  The sound is as equally impressive as the graphics as the acting is top-notch with non other than Andy Serkis from “The Lord of The Rings” and “King Kong” fame voicing King Bohan.  He makes you love to hate him.  Every voice stands out in this game (you have to hear Nariko) and makes you feel like you are participating in a movie you never want to end.

This is where one of “Heavenly Sword’s” faults comes into play.  The game is painfully short.  It can be completed within six hours.  Also, while the moments where you need to guide an object with the Sixaxis controller will feel like second nature and are the best use of the motion sensor, the frustration that you get while learning cannot be ignored.  Even with these gripes, “Heavenly Sword” is easily considered one of, if not the best, PS3 game of 2007.  With this and the new Ratchet & Clank title just being released, if Sony keeps this up, the PS3 will be on the right track to compete with Microsoft.  It’s no “God of War,” but a shining example of what a “Goddess” can do.

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