Dust Off Your Katana

Genji: Days of the Blade
Reviewed On
PlayStation 3
Available For

Having never owned a Playstation before, I have always been at the mercy of what games my friends and coworkers owned or rented. Thus I was somewhat unfamiliar with the previous title in the Genji series called Dawn of the Samurai, but as I was desperately searching for a PS3 over the past few weeks I naturally also looked at what titles were available right now.

I seem to remember that Genji: Days of the blade was not particularly well received at E3 this past year, but I figured I love sword fighting in medieval Japan, and figured it was worth the look and while I was not blown away, I found it to be a beautiful and fun first game to play on my brand new PS3.

Days of the Blade is set in Japan in 1187 A.D. Three years have passed since Yoshitsune Minamoto (a young swordsman) and his warrior monk companion Benkei Musashibo defeated the Heishi Clan in a huge battle over possession of the "Amahagane" which is a divine jewel that give the owners godlike powers such as kamui (a magical place where you can avoid enemy attacks while making devastating attacks of your own). With that victory, it seemed that peace had finally arrived.

During the past three years, Yoritomo Minamoto (Yoshitsune’s older brother and leader of the Genji Clan) has tracked the remnants of the Heishi Clan to the south of Japan where he and his army were preparing for the finale to finish of the Heishi. It was at this time that strange rumors of ungodly creatures begin to spread and the same evil creatures begin to re-strengthen the Heishi even without the Amahagane. At this point Yoshitsune, Benkei, and two new friends have to once again do battle with the Heishi and save the world.

Once you meet the characters in the game, you can and will need to switch between the different characters using the d-pad, as there special skills are needed throughout the game. The main character is of course Yoshitsune, who wields two swords and attacks very quickly. He is quickly joined by his friend Benkei who uses a huge (and I mean huge) club and while he attacks slowly, he does clear a very big swath when he swings. They are later joined by Gozen Shizuka, a slim female warrior from the first game, who dances around her enemies and attacks at range with chained blades as well as getting up close and personal.

The last character to show up is Lord Buson, who is also from the first game, but he has now decided to change sides and help the Genji clan. Buson is the God of War and he wields dual sabers and can call upon other supernatural powers. He is a God after all. The game makes good use of the ability to switch characters. Many of the enemies, bosses and environmental obstacles can be more easily overcome by one particular party member. The trick of course is figuring out who best can handle the challenge.

I hopped right into the game and was very impressed with the opening cut scenes as they went thought the story so far and brought me up to speed on the game. And as soon as I could I ran out and beat on every bad guy that I could find so that I could find so that I could start exploring what looked to be a truly a breathtaking game.

And I have to say you really do feel as if you have entered Japan in 1187. I first played this game with the AV cables that were included with my console (which resulted in a video mode of 480i), but I quickly went out the next day and purchased an HDMI cable which knocked the picture quality up a notch (720p). The problem is that the feeling that you are in Japan only goes so far once you discover that you can only move around a pretty limited area. This is further compounded by the use of a static camera which also negatively effects game play.

The game controls are wonderfully easy to master. You can move, dodge and jump as well as make normal, strong, and special attack, and you can take a defensive, focus or defensive focus stance. And I had a good time trying out the moves and seeing what combos were most effective. At the heart of the game is the ability to instantly switch weapons just as you can switch characters.

Not only do you need to select the best character for a situation, but you also need to figure out which weapon works best. As the game progresses your characters will discover new weapons which can later be further upgraded. Each weapon looks different, so it is fairly easy to figure out what weapon you are using just by looking at your character.

The majority of the game consists of wading through hordes of Heishi whom continually swarm at your character. The Kamui mode I mentioned earlier helps when you get surrounded by too many enemies. When you enter Kamui you are drawn into an alternate reality where you compete in a mini button matching game, where success means vanquishing your foes. Sometimes the other side will bring you into their own version of Kamui and you have to do the same button matching game, but in this case it is to save your neck.

Overall, I have to say I was hoping for more, but this is a launch title and as everyone knows, it is a rare launch title that really takes advantage of a new system. Sadly while the game was beautiful, I was really looking for something a little deeper then just hack and slash.

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