Blades Of Time - PlayStation 3 Standard Edition
- For the unknown
- Platform: PlayStation 3
- ESRB Rating: Mature
- Media: Video Game
- Item Quantity: 1
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Platform for Display: PlayStation 3
Play as the gorgeous gunsword-wielding treasure hunter Ayumi as she carves a path of destruction through a mysterious and dangerous island. While rich with bounty, the island is also caught in the throes of Chaos magic. Ayumi soon discovers that it is also the home of thousands of long-held secrets, including special powers and abilities that she can gain for herself. Using everything she can, she must find a way to defeat armies of menacing villains and a multitude of treacherous traps in order to break free of the possessed island's grasp. With a host of colorful characters, eye-popping visual appeal, tons of treasure and a huge variety of combat skills to master, Blades of Time will satisfy gamers' hunger for an entertaining yet deep action game that even gamers new to the hack-and-slash genre will enjoy.
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The plot follows Ayumi, a blonde treasure hunter for the mysterious Guild who has no hints of being even remotely Japanese. This organization sends her to a cursed island from which no other hunter has ever returned, all in hopes of gaining an illustrious amount of gold to share with them. There's a reason that no hunter has ever returned from the place, which would be because it's crawling with massive amounts of enemies and traps that utilize unseen types of weapons and magic. With the aid of a fiery dragon goddess who grants her the ability to manipulate time, Ayumi must find her lost partner, Zero, and find the treasure before the island takes her life.
This is a pretty intriguing set-up for the very honest game that "Blades of Time" is. By honest, I mean that the game never tries to pass itself off as something it's not. It never overwhelms the player with tired RPG elements like so many hack-and-slash games nowadays do, nor does it make any attempts to be "edgy" by throwing in language, excess gore or idiotic amounts of fan service. In fact, one of my favorite things about this game is how earnest it really is at heart. A lot of people call games with grueling difficulty and intentional frustrating gameplay "old school", but to me, that type of "old-school" feel is too manufactured and exploited by too many companies. Trying to artificially recreate what made older games so enjoyable takes away part of the charm at the end of the day. Here, Gaijin has accidentally made a good old-fashioned return to early PS2 action game conventions, and in the process created a very mindless but nevertheless fun game.
There are a few unique quirks to this game, though, and those quirks are actually "BoT"'s biggest flaws. The first of these has to be the underdeveloped "time rewind" ability that Ayumi gains. Using the power creates clones of Ayumi, so as to distract enemies and team up on them from where they're least expecting it. Some enemies with heavy shields actually cannot be defeated without this power. The problem lies in the fact that the game explains how to use it in a very poor fashion, and when you're using it, it feels like the most confusing and arbitrary aspect of the game. With no proper measure of your clones' longevity or abilities, you're left making clone after clone and hoping that something works. "Hope" is not a word that should apply to being able to work a key component of a game. Mechanics as instrumental as that need to work how they're intended or not be included in the finished game at all, period.
Another quirk is the game's gunplay, and to be blunt, it's utter shite. While I admire Gaijin's attempt at putting the element in there, Ayumi's accuracy is beyond awful, and her ability to move when aiming is hindered greatly. This becomes frustrating when the game expects you to volley off shots at airborne enemies at a rapid pace while they're shooting at you with powerful projectiles. If you could shoot your rifle without being forced to use an over-the-shoulder camera, a la "Devil May Cry", it would be a much better system. It's unfortunate that it ends up being the absolute worst aspect of the gameplay.
What this game does best comes down to Ayumi's duel katanas and her arsenal of magic abilities. Hacking through enemies with new swords is a fun and simple pleasure, and her fluidly fast movement makes most of the battles fun, brainless excuses to lay the law down on evil denizens. Ditto for the magic abilities, which end up turning many battles into some wicked and creative fun. My favorite is a type of forceful push that splits apart into a wide array of blasts, much like a spread shot in "Contra." The funny thing about this game is that the most basic, cliche gameplay elements are the ones that actually end up producing the most fun I've had with it.
Also impressive are the graphics, which, while not gorgeous, are used to create some of the most creative and inspired environments seen in a game this year. Typical RPG-esque fantasy realms are avoided, and even the dungeons never feel recycled or dull. Every once in a while I had to stop and move the camera around just to take in the wonderful surroundings, filled with lush meadows, steampunk airships and majestic temple ruins. While it should again be stressed that the textures used to render these things are not top-of-the-line, the objects and locales themselves are lovely to look at, especially on the PC version (available on Steam.)
For all of it's issues (bad gunplay, poorly implemented time rewinding, uninspired acting), the good parts (fun swordplay, imaginative environments, cool magic upgrades) balance out, but never outweigh, the bad. What players are left with is a game that is "budget" in every sense of the word, but not lame or bad by any means. "Blades of Time" is well-priced, and for what you're paying, you're getting a fun and cheap experience that will last you a decent amount of time. If you're expecting a game-changer, then look elsewhere. But if you're ready for a few relaxing afternoon sessions of cathartic button mashing and dungeon exploration, then Konami has got the game for you.
Overall: 7.5 (Enjoyable)
This game is frustrating at times because you have to remember to utilize your time abilities to create additional versions of yourself and keep doing this until all at once, all of your past versions deal enough damage to kill off tough enemies. The graphics to this game are beautiful and definately less cartoonish than X-Blades. The controls are pretty easy to get the hang of and definately better than most newer games. I love how Ayumi jumps around and fights. This game also has a level select to replay the areas to collect whatever you missed and you can also play this game online in specific online levels and objectives. I think if anything, games should mimic the character controls/fighting animations off this game combined with Dragon's Dogma. I really hate that most newer titles still suffer from environment camera angles where as this game only suffers from that sometimes depending on where you are or what you are doing. (I don't like seeing a tree or building on my screen and not being able to see my character.) I think a Metroid game could benefit from this game model because Ayumi kinda jumps around like Samus should and replace the swords and gun with the plasma gun and bingo, a "good" Metroid game.
Anyway, I recommend this game to anyone that loves level-based hack-n-slash games and just wants something to play for a while. The game isn't that long with only 10 levels and only about 8 boss battles. This game isn't completely outstanding as far as the story but it is definately above average if only judging by the mechanics of the game.
Despite some large environments to explore Blades of Time is fairly linear which honestly I don't have a problem with. The next areas won't open until you've met your objective in the current area. A quick press of the d-pad will bring up a compass to point you in the direction of your next objective so you need not ever worry about getting lost or knowing where to go next. The compass will also provide hints to the locations of treasure chests where you can find upgraded weapons and firearms or various other battle perks.
A standard skill tree is provided which allows you to expend your earned experience points to buy a wide variety of power-ups including magical attacks. These include an almost overwhelming set of combo attacks. Earning a new combo transports you to an arena to practice your new combo which isn't very realistic but is helpful. The problem is, and you've likely heard me say this over and over again, is that there are so many combos that its simply not easy to remember them all and even if you do, many don't have any greater effect on the battlefield than your standard attacks so likely you'll find a few attacks that you like and stick with those.
Combat is just ok. The schemes are fine but there isn't the gritty feel that you get with so many other similar games and the effects of combat are also boring and mundane. Between battles the game features numerous platforming and puzzle solving sections. The platforming sections are made needlessly difficult and frustrating due to a lousy camera view. This often leads to you falling to your death. Fortunately checkpoints are quite frequent, but that doesn't make it any less annoying and if there's anything I hate in a game its frustration and annoyance being used as a substitute for challenging level design.
Blades of Time's key feature is the ability to allow Ayumi to rewind time. Now this isn't like Prince of Persia Sands of Time where you could rewind to recover from falling to your doom, but rather it's a battle aid. You can run up, attack a foe several times with your sword, and then hit the rewind button. This creates a clone of Ayumi who will then mimic the moves you just did...in this case you now have the Ayumi clone attacking the enemy along with the true Ayumi. The one caveat is that if you rewind time it not only affects Ayumi but the enemy as well. This if you're fighting a boss, his health meter will go back to what it was when you rewound time. So in a sense you're giving a boost to the enemy as well. Kind of stupid if you ask me...and it makes for more careful use of the power. Add to that the fact that health is always in short supply and boss battles become a chore.
It's clear that developers Gaijin Entertainment spent most of the design budget on Ayumi. She looks good and has a ton of animations. But none of the character models look nearly as good. Voice acting is decent...enthusiastic although Ayumi's voice doesn't sound like you might think it should. While Blades of Time has some fun elements it's bogged down with too many frustrating platforming sections, irksome boss battles, weak character designs and a muddled story, and this game is strictly a renter if nothing else is available.
If you are a fan of the armed female games like Golden Axe Beast Rider, Onechanbara, Wet, or Chainsaw Lollipop, its a good play.