A bit of a looker, this one. No doubt about it. There are doubts over the rest of Genji: Days of the Blade, however: imagine you'd met a real stunner on Saturday night and woken up in her flat to find anti-testosterone supplements and hair-removal cream lying about and you've got an idea where this is going. Simply put, Genji's not as amazing as it first looks.
Tarted-up hacking and slashing sums up what's available here perfectly, and although there's a multitude of moves for each of the four playable characters on offer, the constant battling soon ingrains itself on your mind so that after an hour or so you can play without even thinking about what you're doing. What to eat later becomes your sole thought, or maybe you'll be daydreaming about that stunner you were perving over the other Saturday night. How to beat the game and get a kick out of it finds itself way down your list, which for an action game is bad news.
Before tedium sets in the simplistic action is certainly a laugh, with the Sixaxis controller's tilt function used to make your character roll or duck out of the way and a host of jumping, slashing, whipping and even belly-flopping moves on offer. Hero Yoshitsune, of the first Genji on PS2, will probably be on your screen most, thanks to his combination of agility and powerful dual-sword skills, but alternatives Benkei (a walking brick wall with a club the size of an oak tree), Shizuka (a grapple blade-totin' priestess) and Lord Buson (a not-very-noble bloke with a twirly spear thing) are all effective in their own ways, and parts of the game will require that you swap between characters to overcome certain obstacles. One plus is the ability to flit to another character just as your health evaporates, allowing you to carry on a battle rather than start from the last save point.
The camera, although dramatic, doesn't allow the best point of view in many parts of the game, and the right stick would probably have been better used controlling a free camera instead of handling dodge moves. Much like the older Resident Evil games, you'll often find yourself running blindly into a group of funny-masked ogres and losing a chunk of your life bar before realising you're in a tight spot. It's a kick in the teeth to have to fight both the enemies advancing toward you and the perspective the game dumps on you.
Attempts to add more depth to the gameplay with new move-sets for each character when a new weapon is obtained, are more then offset by the lame level design. The surroundings are sweet eye candy, with some of the early levels looking stunning, but there's never anything more varied than a couple of large rooms connected by smaller corridors on offer, and even then the way forward is never clear. There's nothing wrong with challenging maps, but when you're running round in rectangles you start to lose the will to live.
Some lush cut-scenes brighten up the otherwise heard-it-all-before story of a Japanese samurai battling a nasty clan of power-hungry warriors; the plot's nothing more than a means of getting through each samey encounter. Genji looks great, and bodes well for what PS3 will be able to do, but as a game it feels like a technical demo.
The PS2 game with super enhanced PS3 visuals. Not the revolution that we had hoped for.
- Looks detailed and polished
- Loads of moves available
- Repetitive button-bashing action
- Bland levels and small maps