Players: 1 Player Game | Genre: Action
One of the most hyped early PlayStation 3 games is finally nearing release in 2007. While many skeptics claimed it would never come out or would never look or play like the early demo, Heavenly Sword has finally arrived in form of a preview build. After spending time with the latest build, were the skeptics right or has the PS3 found an exclusive game to be proud of?
For those of you not familiar with the story, Heavenly Sword follows the story of a wild red-headed female named Nariko--the daughter of a warrior chief named Shren. The tribe led by Shren is responsible for the safety of the highly powerful weapon known as the Heavenly Sword. Disaster strikes when an evil king comes, attacks the tribe, imprisons Shren, and attempts to take the sword for his evil deeds. Fortunately Nariko is nearby and uses the sword before it can be taken. The sword was never meant to be used by mere mortals and begins to slowly remove the life force from Nariko's body. Now with only a limited amount of time before her ultimate demise, can she find and free her father and destroy the evil King Bohan?
As this build begins, you are tasked with defeating wave after wave of enemies. After defeating the first wave of enemies using your Heavenly Sword, players will have to solve a puzzle to continue. Instead of brute force, Nariko must utilize the secondary, long-range weapon to repel a series of arrows attempting to stop you from continuing. Although a bit frustrating, players can ultimately make it through these archers and continue on.
After clearing this area, another gameplay style emerges: Aftertouch. This feature allows you to hold down the throw button whenever you are going to throw something. Instead of just watching it fly away, you can control it with the Sixaxis controller. Despite being a fairly cool feature, the motion control did appear to be a bit over-sensitive. I found myself disabling it for standard analog controls shortly after using it.
As the build continues, players encounter another large group of attacking forces. However, you will find yourself in a boss battle here. After successfully defeating a large number of enemies, Flying Fox will appear. This fight is much more difficult than your standard battle and will only end through the use of a special attack when the Flying Fox gets low on health. The timed attack is very similar to how you ultimately defeat bosses in God of War and requires you to hit a button or move the analog stick when prompted on the screen. Failure to hit the right buttons or movements will cause Flying Fox to receive more health and you have to go through the ordeal again. While it can be a bit challenging, there are a few health packs lying around that you may need to grab if Nariko's health gets low. Once you defeat the Flying Fox, the battle is over and you can continue.
As the build concludes, players will have to defeat yet another boss named Whiptail. This fight is quite a bit more difficult than the previous encounter and will cause you quite a bit of frustration. This also leads to you briefly taking control of Kai as you protect Nariko before she delivers the finishing move on Whiptail.
The current build of Heavenly Sword is definitely looking good. While I was a bit intimidated by the greatly increased difficulty, I hope that there are different settings for this to resolve the issue in the final product.
Overall though, Heavenly Sword is shaping up to be a great PlayStation 3 exclusive for the 2007 holiday season. Lets hope that the game can get the final finishing touches it needs and Sony gets this released on time.