Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 09/12/07 | Genre: Action
When Sony first showcased the power of the PlayStation 3, they used a playable demo of Heavenly Sword as one of the featured videos to wow onlookers. Although this consisted of just one very small arena stage, this gave hope to fans of Sony that this could be a title that would do for the PS3 what God of War did for the PS2. With the final version firmly sitting on store shelves, does this title live up to God of War hype?
Before we can fully answer the questions surrounding Heavenly Sword, it is best to start with the biggest aspect of the game--the graphics. Calling Heavenly Sword stunning is most definitely an understatement. Sony has been telling us, since the release of the PlayStation 3, that their console is the most advanced on the market today and their vision for gaming is to move into a Full High Definition experience that will rival real life. While it is true that there are still some minor areas that keep Heavenly Sword from looking completely lifelike, it is amazing to see this game running. All of the characters are animated flawlessly and Ninja Theory even enlisted the help of Andy Serkis (the man behind Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies) to help ensure characters in the game look and feel as real as possible. On top of the realistic looking characters, the story is written with much charm and delivers on a Hollywood quality experience in a game--complete with excellent music.
Despite reaching near perfection in the visuals, Heavenly Sword still falls short in a few areas. There are some lip synching issues that plague the game. Speaking with Sony about this several months ago, they forsee a time in the very near future where their motion capture studios will ensure that lip synching will not be a problem. However, I am not sure why this issue was not fixed in Heavenly Sword. The other issue that takes away from the "realism factor" is a framerate issue. Despite all the power under the hood of the PS3--the majority of it still untapped--Heavenly Sword stutters in the framerate from time to time. These are both minor issues and is a credit to Developer Ninja Theory that we have to "reach" to find something to gripe about regarding the graphics.
Besides being a beautiful game, Heavenly Sword is a fast-paced action title that has been called similar to God of War. Although there are some similarities, Heavenly Sword is definitely not "God of War: Female Edition." Both God of War titles were fairly lengthy adventures. However, you will be lucky to get seven hours of gameplay out of Heavenly Sword. During those few hours, you will find an action experience not seen on any other console. Players choose between three different stances and can switch between them, on the fly, while in the middle of the combat. This is done simply by holding down one of the face buttons on the controller. As waves upon waves of enemies appear on screen, you will probably develop several blisters before you get done. But Heavenly Sword isn't exactly a button masher. Many enemies are only vulnerable to certain attacks. This will cause you to experiment with different stances to vanquish your foes.
Ever since it was first shown, Heavenly Sword has drawn comparisons to God of War. Like SCEA's flagship franchise, Heavenly Sword has great production values, exciting combat, and an enjoyable story with interesting characters. What it doesn't have is length, clocking in at just six-and-a-half hours from start to finish. So while it's a great game, it's a great game you can beat in one sitting. In addition, there is a second character you briefly get to control to mix up the action. This character is known as Kai and she wields a crossbow. All of her attacks must be done from a distance. You can even control the movement of her arrows with the Sixaxis.
With beautiful graphics, an incredible story, awesome music, and fast-paced gameplay, you would think that Heavenly Sword would steal the spotlight from all games released this holiday season. While it is true that Heavenly Sword is definitely a good title, the short length of the game leads me hope for a longer, deeper experience in a sequel. That said, this is one title you won't want to miss. But a rental may be all of the enjoyment you get out of the title.