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Heavenly Sword's Fatal Flaw: Its Genre - Destructoid

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My illustrious gaming career began on my grandmother's Windows 3.1 PC, a relic even when I was using it. On it, I played such classics as SkiFree, solitaire, and crappy DOS Star Trek games. As time passed, my tastes (and hardware) changed, and I fell in love with numerous RTSes, Isometric RPGs, and crappy Winddows '95 Star Trek games. For a few cold, harsh years, my game purchases all but ceased, and were limited to yearly installments of EA's NHL series. However, about three years ago, I met my then (and current!) girlfriend, who introduced me to the wonders of love, sex, and Resident Evil 4. She also made me play WWE Crush Hour, but I've forgiven her for that. What was once a passing interest in games evolved into an all-out addiction, and I now own every current generation console, and a collection of about 200 games. Though some have described my excessive gaming habits as "dehabilitating," I assure you that they are only mildly so.

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I recently finished playing Heavenly Sword, and I have to say, the game was absolutely beautiful. Stunning, in fact. The facial animation was incredible, far superior to that found in any other game (yes, even to the Half-Life 2 Episodes and Mass Effect). The performances of the voice actors were among the best to ever be heard in a video game, rivaled only by Bioshock's team of Andrew Ryan and Atlas in terms of quality. The game's score was one of the best of the year, making use of more exotic sounding instruments to sound original, not like the typical John Williams impersonations composers seem so fond of using in video games. The environments looked great, the character designs were neat, and the story, while somewhat underdeveloped because of the game's short length, was still strong (and if you watch the animated episodes the disc, you'll see just how deep it could have been). So, what's the problem? When you actually have to play the game, it turns into a fucking nightmare.

I won't go in depth about what's wrong with the gameplay. If you're reading this, you've undoubtedly read the many reviews which have already done so. It should suffice to say that the different combat stances are underused, the enemies aren't varied enough (there are literally only like 4 different types), the arena-style battles are tiresome, you can button mash your way through the whole game, and that stupid, broken Sixaxis aftertouch shit is used pretty much every ten minutes. So, what could the solution have been to all these problems? How could the game have improved, and in my opinion, improved exponentially? Simple, I say! It should have been turned into an RPG.

This game was begging to be turned into one. More emphasis could have been put on the game's strong points, it's characters, story, and storytelling. Instead of just getting new combos for the sword as you progress through the game, you could unlock more powerful attacks by leveling up, and focus on leveling up one of your stances to become an expert at it. The repetitive enemies would be less noticeable, since that's pretty much a given in RPGs. Instead of switching to a different character with a different control scheme in the middle of the game, you could just have Kai in your party from the get-go. Between the setting, the characters, and the story, this game would have been a perfect fit for an epic RPG. Instead, it was a mediocre action game, and that's a huge disappointment. I'd love to see a second Heavenly Sword, and I hope one is made: I just hope that it's in a different genre.



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