Hey folks, Valkor here. And I wanna welcome the folks at SouthPeak Games, who are feelin rather bold to allow the Valkinator play around with their wares. First up on the chopping block is X-Blades (aka OniBlade as it's known on the PC) featuring new love of my life Ayumi, who can kick a lotta ass, if only the controls weren't so wonky.
X-Blades is an action-adventure game featuring Ayumi, a scantily clad treasure hunter who happens upon an artifact that unleashes some terrible monsters. She's able to fight em off and in doing so a map is revealed. The map leads to an artifact and upon finding the artifact; Ayumi awakens the darkness inside her. Cursed, Ayumi must find more about what's going on within her and how to cure it. But you're not unarmed; Ayumi carries two gunblades (???) for hacking/slashing and shooting down her enemies. She'll also gain other much needed abilities that will aid her in her quest. Along with the ability to produce damaging earthquakes, fireballs and lightning, Ayumi can also channel her "dark force" to jump higher, runner faster and use stronger abilities. She can also upgrade her guns abilities by finding pieces of broken artifacts (gold, silver, and ruby) or pull off some fancy new moves. In order for her to use her special abilities, she must first capture "souls", which she can obtain from fallen monsters, breaking open vases, statues, and sarcophaguses, and also find soul gems lying about. (Souls also help her gain back lost rage and health). The game is pretty straight forward, with no real twists and turns, plus you have cinematics which help fill in the rest of the story.
Controls take some getting used to but the basics are - Square acts as your attack button, and X is for jump. R1 shoots and the other buttons you can assign which ability you choose. The opening tutorials get things moving along nicely, really helps you get used to the controls and used to the game as whole. You'll play the game in sections, where you enter an area and face a horde of enemies. And when I say horde, I mean they come at you in what appears to be an endless stream. On the bottom right hand corner is a meter that will empty as you kill a bunch of baddies, take out these flaming balls (hehehe), or finish off a boss.
In the Graphics department, backgrounds, characters, and monsters are nicely CG animated, though cut scenes look cel-shaded. Monsters can completely fill an area and in any given situation you'll have tons of on-screen action, which only on rare occasions causes the screen to glitch or slowdown. The game is loaded with beautiful flare effects such as when a giant fire ball gets near Ayumi, or the sun glints off her blades. In the audio department, you have great background music as well as awesome sound effects. You get some voice acting as well, though not some of the best, it doesn't distract too much.
Finally before I forget to mention this, depending on which powers you push the most (light or dark), you'll be treated to one of two endings, which makes the game easy pickings for replay.
First I wanna say the graphics shine in X-Blades, everything is solid, his-res and just beautiful. The backdrops are well done too, though you'll be too busy kickin ass to pay attention to it. The overall game deserves some props, because of it being a simple hack n' slash game; it's easy to get into and easy to delve into the story. And how can you not love Ayumi? Ass hangin out the back, struttin around in all her sexiness, and did I mention she's fast? Damn fast! It's an overall solid game. Kudos.
The controls are where my major issues lie. To me, they're just too sensitive. In order to get past some pretty precarious situations you have to be really gentle with the analog stick or else you'll be starting the scenario over and over again. In some cases it's hard to get Ayumi to perform some of her moves such as the forward, forward, up to make her do a roll, or even when trying to swatch from blade to guns, response time is slow to nil, which can heart you as you're sometimes surrounded by enemies, and you wanna do a special move, but damnit! You press the button and nothing. Finally collision detection needs work as I can stand right in front of a vase, statue, enemy, whatever, swing and I don't hit anything. UGH!
Though I have some concerns with X-Blades, honestly it doesn't frustrate that much. You'd think I'd be tossin the controller but seriously, the game is actually a lot of fun. So if you're tired of serious role-playing game or shoot em ups, then definitely give X-Blades a go as it makes the perfect time killer for when you just want something to mellow back with and enjoy. I've tested the Playstation 3 version, but the game is also available on the Xbox 360. And Out TOV 5 stars, I give X-Blades 3.5 and it's been Valkor tested and TOV Approved.