Heavenly Sword Update--Rope Walkin' and Butt Kickin'

Ninja Theory shows off a brief but cracking new level of its promising action game.

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It's been an age since we last heard a peep about Heavenly Sword. The UK-developed game made a splash when it was shown running on the PlayStation 3 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo two years ago, and it continued to impress us at last year's Tokyo Game Show. Things have been pretty quiet since then, though, with a recent appearance on NBC's Heroes being the only sighting of heroine Nariko's exploits. Sony and developer Ninja Theory finally showed off more of the game at a recent press event, which featured a dedicated presentation and a new playable demo. Though the presentation and demo were brief, the game still managed to show very well and leave us wanting more.

During the presentation, Ninja Theory cofounder Nina Kristensen brought the assembled press up to date on how the game's development was going. Though much attention is focused on the game's wicked cinematic combat, Kristensen spent a bit of time highlighting the game's story, which follows the fiery-haired Nariko on her very personal journey of revenge and redemption. The game's intro will apparently begin with Nariko's death, while the proper game will follow the recently deceased lass as she attempts to change her past to safeguard her future. Yes, Star Trek and Doctor Who fans, we know that's totally not cool, but Nariko's pretty driven, and she's got one heck of magic sword, so it's not like anyone's going to question her. To sell Nariko's story, Ninja Theory has hooked up with none other than Andy Serkis--yes, that's the Andy Serkis of Gollum and King Kong fame, to direct and star in the game's cinematics by serving as the motion-capture model at WETA Digital.

As far as gameplay goes, combat looks to be the heart of Heavenly Sword's action. Standard melee combat is mixed with more twitch-based controller input, but it's not necessarily a button masher. Melee combatants can also choose to mix up their means of attack by switching to different stances. You'll be able to shift to ranged, speed, or power stances, each with their own benefits and drawbacks, to find the best way to defeat foes. If you're fast, you can trigger a super attack that's cinematic and devastating. One thing to note is that you'll also find areas to interact with using the X button that will trigger twitch-based sequences, which require you to hit specific button or D pad presses to progress through them,

The controls are laid out nicely on the Sixaxis controller. You'll move with the left analog stick and evade attacks by using the right stick. Square is your default attack, while you can also use triangle in combos or to counter. Circle triggers your super attack as well as lets you drop an object. The X button lets you pick up, use, fire, and throw objects. The top shoulder buttons let you switch to Nariko's range stance when you hold L1, while holding the R1 button lets you change to a power stance. When neither one of the stance-modifier buttons is held, you'll default to the speed stance. All three of the stances figure in to the combos you can perform and are key to victory. Thankfully, the game's already solid controls make that possible.

Even though you can kick butt, you'll still get plenty of trouble thrown your way. Thanks to the troubled state of the world, you'll bump into many a surly foe who Ninja Theory is hoping will be asking you for a whupping from Nariko. Fortunately, this is something she can do, with style. Whether you're facing a single foe, a boss, or a combination of the two, Heavenly Sword is on its way to capturing the satisfaction of Kratos' hook blades from the God of War series.

The visuals in the game are shaping up well and still impress since the last time we saw them in motion. Animation is still rough in places, but the game certainly knows how to make a spectacle of itself. The two set pieces for the action sequences offered two eye-catching locales. The large rock pillars that you fought on offered a stunning vista, thanks to the game's draw distance. At the same time, the battle arena you're dropped into was just the opposite and had you fighting in a claustrophobic area with a good degree of interactive objects. Enemies were plentiful and died nicely.

The audio in the game was a little tough to make out in the din of the demo kiosks, but what we heard seemed to be on the right path. The music blended what sounded like a proper cinematic score with some interesting uses of silence, thanks to what will be a reactive score that reflects your performance. The sharp sound effects in the game are very prevalent when Nariko is kicking much butt with the sword, and they're mostly excellent already. The voice acting seemed to be OK, albeit a work in progress.

Based on what we played, Heavenly Sword still has quite a bit of promise. Though the comparisons between God of War are inevitable at this point, the game's combat system could be a key area of differentiation between the two games. The three different styles, the combo system, and the style actions are in the same spirit as the most excellent testosterone-fueled franchise but may wind up making the game it's own beast entirely, which would be grand. But even if the game winds up being "goddess of war," there are worse ways to kick off a potential series. At the moment, we're anxious to see what it evolves into as its fall release nears. Look for more on Heavenly Sword in the months to come.

Discussion

104 comments
bazzatuk
bazzatuk

Looks like it might be ok this, the demo available for download was pretty good, but at the moment the demo only suggested that it was more a clone of Ninja Gaiden/Devil May Cry as far as the combat mechanics go, with some QTE events much like Shen Mue. Hope it does turn out to be good, it certainly looks very polished from a graphical stand point, the story seemed intriguing, so lets hope there is more to see with some good boss battles.

istylee
istylee

this is gonna be one awesome game so gotta preorder one when the release date is soon !

hovan316
hovan316

Another reason I got a PS3

mcxps3
mcxps3

hm the ps3 has no good games yet ppl constantly hwine oh its only for the ps3 hey itll eventually come to the 360 right, Sony Produced and is going to publish the game its exclusive. If u want ps3 games so badly u wish their on ur console why not buy a ps3. Anyway this game is gonna be awesome its a must buy.

wildsnipe
wildsnipe

You guys, Andy Serkis from Lord of the Rings is directing the animation of the game. How could this game get any better than having Hollywood actors in it. Same goes for Lair with the famous composer making its score. These things are huge and should be considered no less than graphics or gameplay.

newb16
newb16

They probably were going for the god of war look for the game.

p00phead
p00phead

Looks like god of war but with a girl

Baroque-Legacy
Baroque-Legacy

Looking forward to this! I love the idea of a stylish action game, plus reaction timing from Dragon's Lair, very much like God Of War introduced.

NND1
NND1

Looks nice but I dont really care if it comes out to 360... We are already getting DMC 4!!!

taki_
taki_

who ever said this will be going on 360 eventually needs to be slaped....SONY MAKES THIS and its going to be raw as hell ill be playing it the day it comes out of my lg 60'' 1080i tv on my g0 gig ps3 that is in the other room XD but lair and ninja gaiden will hold me off untill this hits stores with a bang

rocky2k32000
rocky2k32000

hoping it comes to 360? a game published by SONY? a 1st party title? LOL LOL LOL!

blitz2
blitz2

I Hope This Game Comes out on the xbox 360.

bunnyman14
bunnyman14

this game looks like pimp sh*!, too bad is for PS3 only, 'cuz it looks fun.

ssjdagas
ssjdagas

The combat in the trailer seems awesome it's like watching a Jet Li movie. Is it really going to be like that in-game? If so, this is going to be one of the best games ever.

Satsin
Satsin

OK, A Goddess of War !!:P but it seems to be really good, let's hope GodofWar III blows it off!!!!!....then we'll have two cool games!!

Satsin
Satsin

Looks like a great game in the making, could challenge Devil May Cry 4 ..!

freek33
freek33

I don't really have a good feeling about this game. I'll wait and see but i'm thinking it will be a bit better than average. I do hope it's good though so fingers crossed

rocky2k32000
rocky2k32000

hmm i picture nariko grabbing marcus from gears' chainsaw bayonet, and shoving it wayyyyy up his a**! sexEy! LOL! and i see ratchet & clank giving BLINX(the time sweeping cat lol) a good whipping and telling that disgraceful platformer never to get released again. once again i cannot wait for these awesome games to come to the dear ps3. i don't even remember that i was putting devil may cry 4 on my top 10. looking at these awesome games, i see i have much more to look foward to.

casensation
casensation

@IQT786: Thats a good question. I wonder why they don't look at their own systems info, mabye they secretly like the Playstation, but they are waiting for more people to jump on the Playstation wagon.

IQT786
IQT786

why do xbox fan girls allways come to ps3 area they must love the sony guys wright

rocky2k32000
rocky2k32000

hahahaha! this game is not really as similar to god of war as people think it is. and it will rock. no doubt about that. i cannot WAIT!

pixelsword
pixelsword

Trust me, If they're comparing it to god of war, then it's already great. That's how you know games are great when they compare it to other great games. Like how they compare Gears of War to Resistance: Fall of Man.

the_spartanator
the_spartanator

Even if this is a clone of GOW, who cares, GOW and GOW2 are great games, I'd love to play this game. Xbox is lame.

tommydolphin
tommydolphin

FUK YOU SONY GIVE US SOME GAMES TO PLAY AND STOP TELLING LIES......

Juro4dark
Juro4dark

i wanna pick this game up too.

TheBlaklyon
TheBlaklyon

Nice looking game. One of the best I've seen for the PS3 but, I hope it has the ability to stand out above the cold, God Of War shadow.

surppo
surppo

ugh this game is ugly it looks like gears if war with swords just playin the best lookin game i ever seen

rocky2k32000
rocky2k32000

coperoco maybe you have not played god of war. and have not even seen heavenly sword before. nonetheless. the games are not really that similar. and this still looks better than any adventure game on 360 right now.

casensation
casensation

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- *coperoco*I have an awesome idea. Why not changing the seminude ninja for a bald angry man? And changing the background to something more... greek. and calling it God of War? Man is it just me or is this a next-gen clone for horny teenagers? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- You must have not watched the preview for this game its notthing alike the only thing in common is the hack and slash, but thats about it. Its just like saying Gears of War and Halo are alike, which they're not.

coperoco
coperoco

I have an awesome idea. Why not changing the seminude ninja for a bald angry man? And changing the background to something more... greek. and calling it God of War? Man is it just me or is this a next-gen clone for horny teenagers?

killerdha
killerdha

gah! b**ch t*ts is a friggin' abuse of next generation rendering tech. What kind of perv uses so many polygons on a set of nipples???? I refuse to get this game!

Mcortijo01
Mcortijo01

Heavenly Sword gets better and better everytime I read about it. I can't wait for this one.

justincoool
justincoool

must buy this game.......it will be released in august I think......no doubt a must buy!

rocky2k32000
rocky2k32000

and so the beautiful narik0 owns mr marcus from gears, and shoves his chainsaw bayonet (or rifle whaddever) up his hairy a** where the sun does'nt shine! woooh000!

rocky2k32000
rocky2k32000

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

biggamerhk
biggamerhk

EXTREMELY AWESOME. hopefully this will be "goddess of war"

Dogswithguns
Dogswithguns

This has to be one of the baddest games, if not the baddest..... and I cant wait to get to play it whenever it comes out!

06lhilton
06lhilton

Why does it say a May release date? is it out in May?

ps3lord
ps3lord

ahh heroes i love that show ^_^

serph-1925
serph-1925

I cant wait to buy this game when its out

diablos101
diablos101

Sounds like much fun is to be had, really cant wait to check this out, until then guess i just gotta wait for more and more news

casensation
casensation

This game is somthing to also look foward to. It suppose to have a deep story line, the lighting effects are perfect and the gameplay is sweet. This game will be a seller.

daveg1
daveg1

i like your style of writing ricardo. anyway..it sounds promising for sure but i dont think the most recent videos live up to what we first saw at e3 but the game still looks good even if it is a god of war clone and im guessing we wont see a HS and GW game release close to each other becuse of the obviouse..... thanks for the update:)

Alcotamaysees
Alcotamaysees

Looks alright, the framerate looked kind of choppy but that'll get fixed.

sil_musashi
sil_musashi

I agree with wha chim_da_da has written. The Ps3 is a powerful machine and the games that is being made by Sony are awesome 'cause only Sony understands exactly how to use its power. If you have checked current video game titles that revealed, you would see that those games are really cool. Cool from graphic to gameplay. I hope that other game companies understand how strong Ps3 is and make good games than just stick with the old engine to make old game style. Nex-gen not only is about graphic but also about gameplay. I love the way Square-Enix is making FF13. The White Engine is really the next gen-Engine.

sanjt
sanjt

Yea, its not a GOW rip, but i can see why people are making that comparison. But in anycase, there are worse things to be compared to. If this game said "game like GOW!" on the front cover, you know people would buy it :D

don_bidarian
don_bidarian

THIS MADE ME WANT PS3 AGAIN! well im a Sony fanboy but im gonna get a 360.... brrrah maybe i get a PS3 too