Still, there’s a sense that, as the game goes on, it just doesn’t have the depth or imagination to build to the bigger, better things you might expect. Despite some interesting set-piece battles and boss encounters, Heavenly Sword falls back more and more on simply throwing on harder foes then more foes and then more, harder foes. There are even times when it gets to be a bit of a grind, and you’re glad to see the back of a specific chapter just because – when it comes down to it – trashing several whopping ape-men at once isn’t actually that much fun. Without the selection of weapons or the magic attacks you take for granted in God of War, all the button mashing occasionally gets you down. With no online options and little repeat play value it is also, it must be said, a little short. There’s a strong part of me that wants to argue that “take away all that dazzling Hollywood presentation, and Heavenly Sword probably wouldn’t be that great a game”.
OK. Fine. But there’s another part of me that thinks differently. Think of it like this – couldn’t you say the same of 99% of Hollywood blockbusters out there? Aren’t there a lot of movie stars where, were you to pull away the looks and the glamour, you’d be left with someone of only mediocre acting talent? Would the Spider-Man movies have been great had Sam Raimi been limited to the same effects as the seventies TV series? Would Jurassic Park have been anything without the revolutionary CGI dinosaurs? Sometimes it’s OK to be swept away by eye-candy, style and production values, particularly if they also come with strong, likeable characters and decent narrative hooks. Sometimes it’s OK to gloss over the defects or weaknesses in a game’s gameplay and get caught up in the experience as a whole. If you can do that, then you’ll find Heavenly Sword a game that’s well worth your time and your money. If not, save your cash and hold off for Devil May Cry 4, Ninja Gaiden 2 or the next God of War. Just don’t spoil the fun for the rest of us with your sulky digs and cries of ‘meh.’
Beneath the high production values there’s a fairly average hack-and-slash game with a few nice ideas and some fun sniping chapters. But look at those visuals, get caught up in the experience, and you might end up saying “so what?”