LOS ANGELES--One of the many games on display at Capcom's floorspace at the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo is God Hand, a great-looking action game filled with tough-looking manga-style characters and spectacular martial arts moves. Eager to get a feel for the next game from the creators of Viewtiful Joe and Okami, we put it through the paces and enjoyed the experience quite a bit. While it's difficult to tell how God Hand will pan out into a full-length game, the brawling action being shown at E3 suggests that this one's definitely got its heart in the right place.
The first thing that stands out about God Hand is the quality of its presentation. While PlayStation 2 games aren't exactly the talk of the show, God Hand (together with other PS2 games with "God" in their title) shows that the system is still fully capable of delivering some impressive-looking visuals. The artistic style of the game is highly reminiscent of the Fist of the North Star manga and anime series, though God Hand also has this sort of hip Western theme to it. Some excellent twangy guitar tracks could barely be heard under the raucous sound of people getting the daylights beaten out of them, and the whole game seems to take place in some weird vision of the Wild West.
The game plays like a brawler. You run into gangs of thugs, approach them, and beat the crap out of them using combinations of light and heavy attacks. Using the left analog stick in tandem with the attack buttons varies up your techniques, so in addition to standard punches and kicks, we figured out how to do an uppercut that launches foes into the sky, as scissor-kick combination, and even a powerful chi attack that sends foes crashing backward, smashing through stuff. The intensity of the attacks certainly helps God Hand make a strong first impression.
We encountered a couple of especially tough opponents that aren't your average thugs. These strange, teleporting demons would try to sneak up behind us to execute a very damaging grapple move. But by pressing the attack button at just the right moment, it's possible to initiate an extremely cool-looking counterattack--a scissor kick that causes the main character to kick the foe that's right behind him. The hero has plenty more cool moves, too. By pressing one of the shoulder buttons, you cause the game to temporarily go into slow motion as you choose from several different extremely powerful attacks that send your foes crashing in every direction. Also, when you've beaten down enough foes, you can initiate the god hand ability, which causes the main character's arm to burn with furious energy. The effect didn't last long, but it allowed us to dish out even more ridiculous amounts of damage.
God Hand has a great look to it and seems to deliver satisfyingly visceral martial arts combat. While the demo we played seemed fairly repetitive, it nevertheless shows great promise for a game that just might help 3D beat-'em-ups fight their way out of the sewers. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more information on this one.