SGD '07: Joystiq hands-on with Heavenly Sword


Or as we like to call it -- God(dess) of War III: In True HD. Okay, all jokes aside, there is simply no denying that the PS3's Heavenly Sword is a beautiful game. The characters, the weapons, the settings, and even the effects like dust and blood are visually stunning. They'll blast onto your retinas and curve your mouth into an "O" face that'll last awhile. Yes, it's really that pretty.

The level demonstrated during the Sony Gamer's Day event happens right after what was already seen on an episode of Heroes. The game's protagonist, Nariko, starts running down a massive rope towards some enemies. They aren't too thrilled with this, so they start chopping the ropes off the platform they're tied to. This forces you to pull off some fairly easy Dragon's Lair type moves as the screen tells you when to run faster or jump to a side. Eventually she makes it down and lands smack dab in the middle of a fight, which is what we were waiting for.

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Once you pull out her weapons and start fighting, you can see why people can't help but compare this to God of War. Nariko moves at a frenetic pace and fights in a style that is similar to Kratos' -- she's even equipped with blades tethered to chains. She whips them through the air for ranged attacks, but we found that they also can help clear out some space around you if you find yourself cornered by baddies.

She does do a few things differently, however, and is much more graceful. For instance, when she jumps the tip of her blade goes into the ground and she uses it as a balance point to continue flipping over. She has long, flowing, red hair that is almost a character by itself, and it reacts to all the in-game physics. Crazy hair, for sure.

Nariko also faces a lot more opponents at once than Kratos ever did, and she has several fighting stances and moves to help deal with multiple foes. If you hold down the L1 button, she changes into her ranged attack mode, throwing out her blades and spinning around in a tornado-like fashion. Hold down R1, and she'll go into a power attack. It's really seamless in the game, and lets you change stances and attacks on the fly.

Additionally, Nariko can pick up anything lying around on the ground and hurl it at her opponents. Our favorite was the round metal shield that some enemies would drop while she was whipping them with blades. She picks that up and hurls it Captain America-style!

The demo suffered from some frame rate drops from time to time, but mostly it just sat there and looked pretty. We confirmed that there will be no multiplayer mode in the game (at least not initially), with the same applying downloadable content. We don't really know what sort of content could be dropped in (new levels, maybe?) but it sure would be awesome to have Kratos face off against Nariko. Maybe they'll do a crossover game when the numbers start dropping.

The trailer for the game.

Nariko does her stuff while the developers take us through the paces.

Our turn! They've had a bit more practice than us, but we still managed to kick a few heads in.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.