Next-Gen Gamer

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Heavenly Sword Week, Final Day

Posted by Jay on Saturday, April 14, 2007

GamePro’s Heavenly Sword Week ended with a bang…but not really. The last feature was called “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Heavenly Sword”. Basically it was just a recap of the details covered during the week.

1. Nariko is dying.

The Heavenly Sword is a godly weapon that recently fell into the mortal realm. Because only gods can wield the Heavenly Sword without ill effects, Nariko is succumbing to its poisonous effects and has only hours to live when the game opens. In gameplay, your life meter is constantly depleting and can only be sustained through constant combat. This helps keep the focus on swordplay and not frustrating puzzles or platform-jumping exercises.

2. The head baddy is named King Botham.

Unfortunately, we don’t know much about him aside from the fact that Lord of the Rings actor Andy Serkis (Gollum) is supplying motion-captured acting and facial expressions. His character is described as an invading, genocidal tyrant, but little else is known about his role or personality.

3. Nariko has three fighting stances.

With a press of a button, Nariko can swap between three core fighting styles. Ranged style allows Nariko to assault foes from a distance, though it lacks stopping power; Speed gives Nariko two short-swords for close-quarters combat but won’t defeat the toughest enemies; and Power style creates one massive sword than inflicts monumental damage, though it suffers from a slow swing time. Knowing when to swap between Nariko’s styles will be a key element in the final game.

4. The Cell processor pulls of some fancy tricks.

Heavenly Sword may just be the game to show what Sony’s high-end Cell CPU is made of. According to our talks with the developers at Ninja Theory, the Cell’s supposedly prodigious processing power enables some high-end effects, such as swirling cloth and hair, dazzling particle effects, and gorgeous waterfalls.

5. You’ll fight many, many, many enemies at once.

To keep up with the hundreds of on-screen enemies, the Cell CPU has to pull off some sophisticated artificial intelligence. The trick is that Cell treats entire regiments as a single unit of artificial intelligence at a distance; as they draw closer, Cell gradually divides the army into smaller and smaller groups, and finally individual troops with unique fighting styles.

6. The Sixaxis motion sensor guide projectiles in mid-flight.

Nariko can pick up and throw nearly anything, or use a cannon to blast away at enemies. After firing a projectile, the camera changes to first-person to follow the projectile, at which point you can influence its trajectory by tilting the Sixaxis – this feature is called “aftertouch.” Analog sticks also work.

7. You don’t fight monstrous creatures…at least, not yet.

Judging by our hands-on experience with Heavenly Sword, the core enemies will be human swordsmen. This doesn’t mean that the final game won’t have supernatural foes, but so far, the focus is on Kill Bill-style swordplay.

8. Multiplayer is still a question mark.

Ninja Theory won’t confirm or deny a multiplayer mode for Heavenly Sword. Is it under consideration? We have no clue.

9. Heavenly Sword has certain similarities to God of War.

Beyond the core hack-and-slash action, Heavenly Sword bears some key similarities to Sony’s other action series, God of War. Nariko can switch to a chain-based weapon style that bears more than a passing resemblance to Kratos’s infamous Blades of Athena. And there are “hero sequences” in which the player must react to onscreen prompts to survive — much like Krato’s bloody finishing moves.

10. Ninja Theory was previously called Just Add Monsters.

The developers of Heavenly Sword, Ninja Theory, were previously known as Just Add Monsters. This was the same team who released the so-so Kung Fu Chaos for the original Xbox. We know that the newly named Ninja Theory has been working on Heavenly Sword for several years – hopefully the final game will be a steep improvement over their past work.

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