Pin It
Favorite

The Player 

by Marty Demarest & r & & r & Heavenly Sword


Rated Teen; Playstation 3 & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & N & lt;/span & ariko is as shapely as her sword. Graceful and pendulous, they both curve out at hip-height, swaying inward, then out again and up to a point. As ladylike as the arms that swing it, the Heavenly Sword transforms the myth of the hero-making male blade -- Arthur's Excalibur, Roland's Durendal, Aragorn's And & uacute;ril -- into a symbol of feminine potency. When Nariko first takes up her Heavenly Sword in opposition to the tyrant King Bohan, she knows it could mean her destruction. The path of a warrior runs one way, and Nariko's decision to wield the blade leads her inexorably towards a battlefield on which either she or Bohan will die.





Her enemies describe her as a demon in combat. Like a frenzied, caged animal, Nariko rolls around the battlefield and flips through the air. The Heavenly Sword is the axis around which she pivots, carving her enemy's flesh into horizontal and vertical strips. If there is a price to pay for this detail, it isn't the PlayStation 3's occasional graphical hiccups as characters jitter into place or battles skip a beat. Rather, it's Heavenly Sword's designers' penchant for over-animating everything. Identically planted plants sway in sync across hillsides. And Nariko's ceaselessly undulating hair looks like it was animated by someone who grew up watching too much of Spawn's wavy cape and The Little Mermaid's sea-frond hair.





Overdone details like this end up diminishing the effect of Heavenly Sword's mythic battlefield building. When it works, the game deepens from a diversion into an experience that approaches the scope of an epic. Armies march with upheld spears and swords like forests moving across plains. Archers and cavaliers raise cries that ring for miles in Dolby Digital. But most of the game's fighting is not on the battlefield, and much of Heavenly Sword's 10 hours devolves into roomfuls of enemies, of which there only seem to be a few basic types. As though the game's designers knew it was becoming monotonous, they made the unwise decision to break up the action with so many "Ring (Shield) Toss" and "Dart (Arrow) Throw" sequences that the game beings to feel like a county fair has invaded the storyline.





THE GOOD: The digital acting in Heavenly Sword was directed by Andy Serkis, the actor who played Gollum/Sm & eacute;agol in The Lord of the Rings and Kong in King Kong. He knows more about getting character through motion capture technology than anyone else alive, and his expertise gives Heavenly Sword's frequent cinematic sequences a degree of artistry that survives the game's distracting style and shallow storytelling. Finally, someone has figured out a way for actors to transcend the dehumanizing of digitization.





THE BAD: Levels are not designed to be explored or puzzled over, merely marauded through. The environments don't tell stories of the people or creatures living there -- they simply serve as rooms for battle. And the slaughtering itself is most easily achieved with a flurry of randomly pushed buttons yielding rapid jump-slash-swing-hack attacks. No finesse necessary.





THE BOTTOM LINE: I would be swinging my blade freely and fiercely if it weren't for Heavenly Sword's frequent intrusions of picturesque views, carnival-grade skill games and a poorly plotted storyline.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • OK, Hold Your Nose
  • OK, Hold Your Nose

    Everything you need to know before Election Day
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Base of Support
  • Base of Support

    Polling local leaders and opinion-makers about presidential politics
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • The Messenger
  • The Messenger

    Local leaders weigh in on how Donald Trump's campaign has impacted racism in America
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival

Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival @ Riverfront Park

Through Oct. 30

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Marty Demarest

  • The Cowboy's Cowboy
  • The Cowboy's Cowboy

    A Canadian sings about the life —  not just the lifestyle — of the new West
    • May 15, 2013
  • Completing the Trilogy
  • Completing the Trilogy

    Mass Effect has finally arrived
    • May 23, 2012
  • Minecraft
  • Minecraft

    Adventure and survival too often give way to mindless crafts in this building-block simulator.
    • Feb 8, 2012
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


trail mix


Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

  • Run and Gun
  • Run and Gun

    Why a Spokane County detention officer won't face criminal charges after shooting inside a hospital at a fleeing suspect
    • Apr 8, 2015
  • Signs of the Times
  • Signs of the Times

    Can Spokane really curb the demand side of the sex trade?
    • Apr 15, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation