Heavenly Sword demo for PS3 cometh

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Ah, I just saw on Joystiq that the demo for Heavenly Sword is coming out for the PS3 on Thursday, at least for Europe. By now, you’ve heard all the “Goddess of War” jokes. I got to play through the demo a few times at E3, and I have to say — it’s not exactly like God of War, but I think Naruko and Kratos may shared some notes over lunch.

OK, aside from the fact the main character is a flaming-hot Asian redhead, Heavenly Sword also boasted some other things that attempted to separate it from that other game with a blade-swinging badass. The fighting system focused a lot on “stances.” Naruko uses a combination sword, which can break up into separate blades (normal), become one giant broadsword (power), or become a chain with blades on it (range). Defense is handled not by blocking, but by countering and evading. The counter system is built on visual cues of color. When someone takes a swing at you, you’ll get either a blue or yellow blur around their weapon, with blue signifying a normal attack and yellow standing for power — this tells you what stance and counter would work best. Naruko, depending on the stance she’s using, also has blue and yellow blurs around her weapon. You use the triangle button to counter — if you’re timing’s right and you’re in the correct stance, then you’ve got a successful counter.

While this sounds great in theory, the execution felt a little too simple. For instance, I countered a lot of attacks simply by mashing away on the triangle button, especially when I was surrounded by enemies. Even the guy that played it before me said, “Yeah, when I get in trouble, I just hit triangle like crazy.” We’ll see if that’s still the case when the game comes out.

Visually, this was one of my favorites at the show. I ended up almost screwing up an interactive cutscene (yes, it functioned like God of War) where Naruko is running down a giant rope to engage the enemy — mainly because I was staring at how everything looked and moved. I even thought the rope was awesome.

Aside from some of the button-mashiness that was prevalent in the demo, I also thought it was a little weird that I couldn’t jump. Naruko, despite her appearance to the contrary, didn’t feel particularly agile as a fighter. Oh sure, she LOOKED flashy when she was fighting, but she’s not in the league of Kratos or Dante — yet — when it comes to movement. Still rough. One thing that stood out was the “power move,” where Naruko knocked some guy down on his back and brought the full sword down on his groin — good times.

Hopefully, this’ll give PS3 owners something to talk about. A lot is riding on this game in terms of perception … this’ll be the first original IP since Resistance, so perhaps the comparisons to God of War aren’t a bad thing. As we’ve learned, people kinda liked that game.