Capcom recently stopped by with a new build of God Hand, a new brawling action game from Clover Studios, the developers behind Viewtiful Joe and the upcoming Okami. While we had the opportunity to play the game at E3, this visit yielded up quite a bit more information on the title, so read on for more information on this decidedly unique beat-'em-up.
The plot of God Hand (which seems to be forwarded by plenty of offbeat, humorously voiced in-game cutscenes before each mission) revolves around a drifter named Jean who attempts to rescue a girl after witnessing her being attacked by thugs. In the ensuing melee, he gets an arm cut off, and wakes up later with the mystical God Hand attached to his stump. It's this magic arm that enables Jean to fight with prowess--and he'll need his newfound abilities, as he's suddenly forced to fight off large numbers of enemies who each want to possess the God Hand for themselves. It sounds serious, but the game plays with the theme in a lighthearted manner and is filled with prototypically Japanese humor and slapstick antics. If you've ever wanted to play through a level of a fighting game with a big "Kick Me" sign attached to your character's back, then this game is for you.
That said, if you're just looking for a game that lets you show off your fighting skills, then God Hand might be just the thing to tide you over until Devil May Cry 4 comes out. We had a chance to see plenty of the game's fighting engine, and we can already tell that it's going to satisfy players who are looking for some slick and inventive action.
At its core, the gameplay isn't too complicated. You have a standard four-punch combo that's usable by tapping the square button four times, strong punch and kick attacks on the triangle and X buttons, and a context-sensitive finisher attack on the circle button. The four-punch combo, however, isn't set in stone; in one of the game's more interesting nods to customization, you can actually edit the attack combo with new techniques that you find on dead enemies or buy from the game's shop. So, for instance, if you wanted to change the third punch in the four-punch combo from a standard shot to the jaw to a "pimp hand" backslap, you can change that particular attack and leave the rest alone. Or, if you're a bit more adventurous, you can customize the entire combo to suit your particular desires; if you want a combo that deals pure damage, you can go for that, or pure speed, or a combo that emphasizes juggles or even a specific style of fighting, like the "drunken monkey." Your left analog stick will also let you perform different maneuvers during your combos or strong attacks, for extra versatility.
As in Devil May Cry 3, there's no blocking ability, so if you want to avoid damage, you have to take advantage of the built-in dodging maneuver, which is bound to the right analog stick. Pressing it forward will duck your head out of the way; you can continue to tap it forward to attempt to avoid a combo headed your way. Pressing left or right will cause you to quickly dash out of the way, while pressing backward will cause you to perform a speedy backflip. It takes some getting used to, but backflipping away from a powerful attack just in the nick of time is a great feeling.
In addition, there are free finishing attacks that you're capable of performing if you happen to make an enemy dizzy before you kill them. When this occurs, the circle button will let you start one of the finishers. There aren't any crazy God of War combos to proceed with here; you simply mash the circle button to perform a single action over and over again.
In addition, there are a couple of tweaks to the formula that allow you to deal extra damage. The first is the Roulette attack. When you have enough power charged up (which you earn in combat), you can tap the R2 button, which pops up a wheel of special powers. You have a limited amount of time to select something, and some of them use up more power than others, but these powers are a good way to earn an instant kill when you're desperate, or to just deal a huge amount of damage to a group of enemies. Examples of this include the Daisy Cutter, which launches your opponent into the air before spinning them around rapidly, and the wicked bullet kick seen in the E3 trailer, which actually launches your foe so far into the air that they disappear into the sky. (Note that while maneuvers like this are usually instant kills, powerful enemies will simply fall back from the sky and continue their attack!)
Second is the God Hand itself. When you charge up your God Hand meter, you can use it for a short burst of superpowers. As with the Devil Trigger in Devil May Cry 3, you temporarily move more quickly, deal more damage, and are invulnerable while the effect lasts. We only saw Jean being capable of using basic attacks more rapidly during this mode, but we'd be surprised if there weren't some kind of special attacks specifically designed for this mode in the final game.
All in all, God Hand is looking like it's going to be a fun, stylish beat-'em-up that should appeal to fans of freeform fighting systems, like those featured in Devil May Cry 3. The ability to create your own combos and tailor Jean's fighting style to your own particular tastes will ensure that every player can find something for him or her. We'll have more info on God Hand as it approaches its October release date.