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Heavenly Sword

PS3's slash-'em-up unsheathed and looking sharp

More than ever, PlayStation3 needs a killer launch game. A game everyone will want to show off to friends who were unlucky enough to miss out on getting the new console. One that bowls you over the moments you load it up and still throws up plenty of 'wows' hours later. A title that defines PS3 as a trendsetter for graphics and gameplay. Heavenly Sword could so easily have been that game.

Sadly it isn't to be for the hack-and-slash 'em up, which slips under that all-important November 17 release date to emerge the wrong side of Christmas. And that's a shame, because Heavenly Sword is to PS3 what the original Devil May Cry was for PS2.

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RED MIST
For starters, it's great to have a heroine who isn't just a big pair of tits in skimpy clothing (although she is that too). The flame-haired Nariko literally takes no prisoners, preferring instead to hack them into small fleshy chunks using various swords, spears and twin blades. Hell, there's even a bazooka available, which might seem entirely inappropriate given the high fantasy setting, but entirely justified once you start turning your enemies into giblets.

The eponymous sword itself allows you to choose from three different fighting styles at any time, which is only the start of a wealth of combat inventiveness. Nariko is able to toss enemies into destructible scenery, sling the resulting debris and bodies at other foes by applying footy-style aftertouch, kick over other objects to block off enemies, launch counterattacks, and fill a power meter to unleash an all-powerful attack using the Heavenly Sword.

LAST MAN STANDING
Also, you won't just be fighting a handful of enemies at a time, but entire flippin' battalions. It takes some seriously dextrous work on the controller's analogue sticks and buttons to take care of them all at once, but it's poetry in motion watching the game being played by someone who knows what they're doing. The animation is simply incredible as Nariko leaps around stabbing, thrusting and pulling off her spectacularly messy kill moves. It's enough to send God of War's Kratos crying all the way back to his little throne.

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