Heavenly Sword Updated Hands-On

We storm the castle in the latest preview build of Heavenly Sword.

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As one of the first PlayStation 3 games to catch people's eyes, way back at E3 2006, Heavenly Sword drew obvious comparisons to God of War, Sony's hugely popular action adventure franchise. The recent release of the Heavenly Sword demo on the PlayStation Network allowed everyone to see precisely how different the franchises were from each other. The demo itself was well received, although a bit short, but we've recently been lucky enough to get our hands on an extended build of the game featuring an entire chapter of gameplay.

Nariko may be a bit underdressed for combat, but that doesn't stop her from wading into battle.

Heavenly Sword follows the adventures of Nariko, a crimson-haired young woman who's the daughter of Shen, the chief of a rural warrior tribe. The tribe is tasked with guarding the Heavenly Sword, a weapon that was apparently once wielded by a god. Although the sword's energy has protected the clan for centuries, that ceases to be the case when evil king Bohan comes calling, wipes out much of the clan, and imprisons Shen so that he can get his hands on the sword. But before his troops manage to capture the weapon, Nariko reaches it and begins using it to rescue her father. However, the weapon was not intended to be used by mortals, and it begins to drain her life force as she wields it. Will she be able to find her father and defeat the king before sacrificing her life?

The demo level featured the very beginning of the second chapter of the game, which takes place just after Shen has been captured by Bohan and his men. With the Heavenly Sword in hand, Nariko begins to cut a swath through the invading army, which has established itself in a huge fortress compound. Although the demo cuts out after a couple of fights, the build we've been playing contains that entire chapter of the game, which includes a couple of boss fights.

After defeating the first few waves of enemies using the Heavenly Sword, Nariko has to continue her invasion of the palace. However, her journey isn't just a bunch of hacking and slashing: Different challenges arise as you proceed. In one instance, you'll have to make your way across a bridge while archers on the far side shoot away at you. To avoid getting killed, Nariko has to use her ranged stance and whirl her weapon around her head, thus deflecting the arrows before they land. After running toward the archers while they're reloading and repeating the process a few times, you'll get close enough to take them out permanently.

Just beyond this section, you'll come across another example of the game's aftertouch feature. Aftertouch comes into play when Nariko has to deal with a distant switch. She hits these switches by throwing shields at them, Captain America-style. However, the shields are difficult to hit from a distance, so you need to use the aftertouch controls: If you hold down the throw button after you release the shield, you can move the Sixaxis controller around and let its motion-sensing features guide the path of the shield. In this instance, you have to guide the shield so that it bounces off of a statue and hits the switch on the other side of the area, which proceeds to unlock the doors that allow you to move forward.

Later in the level, after much fighting, we were able to take on two of Bohan's generals, Flying Fox and Whiptail. Flying Fox was the first of the two to come after us in a large dining hall. After attempting to weaken Nariko by sending hordes of easily dispatched soldiers after her, Flying Fox joins the fight, wielding very quick combos. The bosses here have unique attack animations. They often switch between speed and power attacks in midcombo, making it difficult to block their attacks. Luckily, there are always a few red health containers in these boss fight arenas. If you manage to save them up for the boss fight instead of using them while fighting the guards, you should be able to wear them down and recharge your health when you need it. After doing so for a bit, Flying Fox can be dispatched with a special unique attack that sees Nariko throwing him up into the air and stabbing him while plummeting back to earth.

Heavenly Sword boasts some of the most impressive character models we've yet seen in an action game

After crossing another lengthy bridge (where you get to use an odd rocket-launcher weapon, with more aftertouch being used to control the projectile in flight), you encounter Whiptail. Whiptail is a good deal more difficult than Flying Fox, and her fight is much lengthier as well. Whiptail is somewhat analogous to Spider-Man's enemy Scorpion: She's got a relatively human body except for the massive tail that grows out of her back and the head of a dead snake that she uses as a helmet. After defeating her guards, she floods a large temple with water and uses that as her primary method of attack. While you can still move unimpeded through the foot of water or so that's on the ground, Whiptail will use her tail to create large torrents of water that zoom at Nariko, forcing you to roll out of the way with her dodge maneuver. However, after creating three or four waves, Whiptail is temporarily fatigued, allowing you to deliver a large combo to her.

After a midfight interlude that sees you taking over another character, an enigmatic girl named Kai who needs to protect Shen from attacking enemies with her rapid-fire crossbow, you take over Nariko again and attempt to deliver the killing blow. Whiptail manages to be even more difficult now because she dodges most of your attacks, forcing you to use the built-in counter system to dodge her own attacks and send back a counter move until you manage to perform another unique attack animation to finish her off.

All in all, Heavenly Sword is looking like a promising action adventure game for PlayStation 3 owners. There are still some issues to be resolved, such as the sometimes-shaky frame rate, but we're hoping that the developers use the last month before the game ships to fix some of the nagging issues. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more info as the game nears its ship date in early September.

Discussion

193 comments
eminem_trick_01
eminem_trick_01

i didn't play god of war , so i should play this one..

Panman_Dan
Panman_Dan

I didn't like this game, maybe it was just the Demo...?

Arcanum
Arcanum

The Graphis of the demo on my HDTV were some of the best I have seen for the PS3; they were simply stunning, as good as Ninja Gaiden Sigma. I will be pre paying for this game! Can't wait!

wjkflke
wjkflke

ha ha ha ha. this looks like the worst game ever

Kitsukage
Kitsukage

Looks like I was right in thinking this would be a good game. This will most likely be a game I go out and buy, when it comes out.

NandoSupes
NandoSupes

as impressive as the short demo is,I cant wait for the whole game,this game looks very good

scratchy69
scratchy69

I just played the demo on my ps3 and its bloody awesome the movie scenes are crazy 2 its in its own class but ill be looking forward to FFXIII more

Gamingguy
Gamingguy

Looks pretty sweet, should do great favours to the PS3 when I get one... 13 days to go :)

petermavreas
petermavreas

I hope they really clean up the in game graphics..the cut scene graphics look great though

godhatch
godhatch

can't wait for this title, the start of the ps3's amazing game line up

Floms
Floms

nice looks a lot like GOW

elohimfetus
elohimfetus

Because of games like this I will never regret my PS3/360 trade in. Upon returning my second broken 360 I put the money toward a PS3. The Heavenly Sword demo, Ninja Gaiden and the promise of games like KillZone 2, War Hawk, FFXIII and UT 3 have seald the deal. The PS3 definelty suites me better that the 360. Not to say any thing bad about the 360 since I really enjoyed the sytem when it worked. Plus there are a bunch of games that look great and will be availabel for both systems. I am the opposite of [txmethod] and [pearlpunx85]. If I still had my 360 I would definetly get the PS3 version of the mulitplatform titles.

JetMonkeyking
JetMonkeyking

PS3 fanboy logic is stupid, its like they act like the PS3 is going to get stronger, it will get stronger, but so will the 360! sure, the PS3 will be able to make games that beat Gears graphics, but the 360 already has games that are beating Gears graphics!

txmethod
txmethod

i agree with pearlpunx85, i own both. with a multi platform release i would get the 360 version unless the ps3 version is noticibly better. by the way..."it was nice knowing you 360 owners" what the hell does that mean? lol thats something a pure fanboy would say. anyways this game looks amazing and hopefully sony can keep pumping out the must-play exclusives.

pearlpunx85
pearlpunx85

I've had a 360 since launch and loved it and many of the games. I just purchased a PS3 and other than some multiplatform games (which I opt to get the 360 version for my achievement points addiction) I own Resistance. Now, I hate it when people talk crap about one system or the other but all I know is that the PS3 needs more exclusives like this Heavenly Sword! The game looks amazingly cool!

Floms
Floms

niceeeeeeeeee

shinobukaizoku
shinobukaizoku

It looks great, I can't wait to play this game. I downloaded the animation for it, on Playstation network, kinda reminded me of a more serious samurai jack. Especially the raven lord (I believe thats what they called him).

fox_thunder
fox_thunder

It's going to be the best game ever and this is just the beginning!!!!

Itachi11432
Itachi11432

i cant wait for this game to come out. its like playing as kratos's wife. lol. it was nice knowing you 360 owners. =]

matt_tabb48
matt_tabb48

Hell yea can''t wait for this game 2 come out cause then I will whip some ass

Dwaaskie
Dwaaskie

maybe microsoft eventually will make use of the HD-DVD drive for games

Jaziel
Jaziel

@hovan316 They're already falling short on storage space on DVDs. Ut3's Mark Rein announced the other day that the 360 version of UT3 will not have as many maps as the PS3 version because of the limitations of DVD. It already started and it's only gonna get worse.lol

jusd
jusd

Funny how 360 faith are soundinglike the Intel faithful when the AMD and INTEL over the latest CPU designs happen. Long story short is as with the PS2 (which is still the #1 selling console ever), as long as you are providing the GAMES (not pretty pictures) that people want to play, your game console can be only a 64 bit processot with a 256kb graphics card. Latest technology doesnt always mean best product, unless all you want to say is you have the latest out there regardless of what you are acting getting.. Thats the truth..

red-orc
red-orc

Viral-venom13: Yeah, it looks good, but: the beginning of a console that's out for almost a year?? By the time of release 360-owners already played a double-digit amount of next-gen-games in that category, while Playstation-fanboys were still playing old-gen. The truth sometimes hurts, but it's worth to be honest (at least to yourself).

Viral-venom13
Viral-venom13

Wow.......now this is what i call ps3 power and to see that this is just the begginning!!!!

aaron5829
aaron5829

It will get a 9. If not, I will give it a 9. :)

Spence1115
Spence1115

@Inner-Voice "As for FF just a PS3 game. lol. Not any more. FF games are coming to 360. Look for it at 1up, or google it." Where? What Final Fantasy games are coming out for the 360 (other than Final Fantasy XI as it's been out on PC and PS2 for years and we don't give a toss, its MMORPG)? The only other consoles are mobile games and Nintendo ones, which are the older ones/smaller offshoot versions. Also, 2 months ago, announced that Final Fantasy would not be appearing on the 360. So prove me wrong.

hovan316
hovan316

This is just the beggining of the PS3's power.... Wait, from now to a year, devs won't know how to fit games on one sigle DVD discs, which will cause the eventual downfall of the X360.

delcidanddarth
delcidanddarth

Wow... unless you guys actually have a job writing code for a ps3 game, how can you say it's more or less difficult? Magazine interviews? A developer probably is not going to bash the platform they are using, and if they do, they might already be biased because of previous experience. Maybe a developer that focused on xbox games would find ps3 tough. Maybe the biggest change is moving up to multi-core systems, which is true for both 360 and ps3. Can we get an expert in here before we start assuming things about other consoles?

NinjaMunkey01
NinjaMunkey01

I agree with TheSilverArrow the ps3 a very difficult console to make games on. just wait though in 2 years time the ps3 will have games with such graphics it will make this look mediokre.

TheSilverArrow
TheSilverArrow

So its #16 right now on the most watched list. My money says it gets delayed. The PS3 is a much more difficult and unforgiving platform to program for and, IMO, we dont know just how bad it really is yet, So be prepared for it to be delayed.

jogunther
jogunther

All speculation for now. Of course the demo was fun, I played it through a bunch of times. Who knows though how long it will turn out to be

rob3nelson
rob3nelson

@cameroncu2: That may be true - next year (and I emphasize next year), there are more Sony exclusives coming out. And, you may be right - A lot of titles like Bioshock will be released for the PC sooner or later. So, if you don't mind waiting, you probably won't miss anything. But, I'm impatient. I don't want to wait until next year or until it comes out on the PC. I'm sick of having to wait all the time for games to come out on the 360 as it is - let alone waiting for them to come out for the PS3 or PC. Also - let's face it - computer gaming except for MMOs like World Of Craft or reality simulators like Second Life - is a thing of the past. Why? Becauuse you have to spend $500 every year for a new graphics card and another $500 every two years for a new processor. That is - of course- if you want the latest and greatest all the time. Having done this for several years, I've decided to save money by doing all my gaming on consoles from now on. So, for me - computer gaming is not an option. I also hate having to use a keyboard to play a shooter. I spend enough time on my computer typing as it is. When I have some R&R time, I don't want to spend it by sitting at a computer some more. Some people might like this.. Personally - I don't. So, I guess it's all a question of personal preferences. In any case, I'm quite pleased by all the games coming out for my 360. I don't want to blow another $500 for a console I'll only play one or two games on.

delcidanddarth
delcidanddarth

anybody that thinks this is a god of war clone, you better try out the demo... it plays much differently. Just because the main character CAN wield a dual-chain-sickle as a weapon doesn't make it god of war. At least in the demo, the chain-sickle attacks aren't very useful, and you'll be spending most of your time using the normal sword attacks, sprinkled in with power sword attacks to stun the guys with shields so you can aerial them. On the other hand, if the rest of the game is chain-sickle madness, then it could end up looking like god of war. But that's still a stretch because there's no jumping, and there are 2 playable characters. Blocking is almost automated now, only requiring you to hold a power block button (R1) to block power attacks. Otherwise, you will block everything else.

delcidanddarth
delcidanddarth

I also worry about how short the game will be in one play-thru. But not because of the demo... because of the story. Apparently, the "heavenly sword" drains the wielder's life away, and you have a time limit until it kills you. So, technically, the game can only be as long as the time limit. There might be some flexibility in terms of game difficulty. However, from the demo, I am not worried about game-length with multiple play-thrus. The replayability of the demo is awesome, and that's just going through the TWO fights using the limited number of moves available against only TWO kinds of enemies. It was fun for like an hour to go through all the aerial moves (my fav is squ-tri-tri-tri, followed closely by squ-squ-squ). If a game can get me to replay a 5 minute portion for a couple of hours, I only have great optimism for the rest of it... though I hope they fix some of the skin textures. Nariko looks good up close, but the body shots had some blotchiness to it.

andrius45
andrius45

damn this s***t is gonna be awesome but heavenly sword or warhawk ah who cares let's go bankrupt and get both

laliluleylo
laliluleylo

This game is gonna kick some @ss!!! But damn a lot of money to spent, Warhawk + Heavenly. Well we wanted games didn't we :P ???

bluelolli
bluelolli

as long as the demo size is not an indication of the length of the whole game

n3ck
n3ck

Nice one ! Just what the PS3 needs ,more of this and it might start selling big.

ptown58
ptown58

This is the one reason I want a PS3 other than the games to follow (someday) (RFOM looks ok too), this game looks great so far, I must say that "The Darkness" has really good character models also. I think ps3 owners will be lucky though if this does't get held back for some dumb reason.

Matty_gamer
Matty_gamer

"Heavenly Sword boasts some of the most impressive character models we've yet seen in an action game" -Gamespot Ohh!! Finally some thing to look forward to for the Ps3. I Loved Ps2 but Ps3 was kinda disappointing me but i think Ps3 will have a better future ! And well i think Gamespot must ban all these extreme fanboys.. Hell i wasnt posting any comment for the fear of being bashed i mean thats nonsense!! gamespot must take this issue seriously. Minor Fanboyism is however bearable but this all is BULL SH!T!!!

blizzot12
blizzot12

LOL, really, GS is crowded with xbox fanboys haha... people, it would probably be a lot nicer here on GS if everyone ESPECIALLY xbox FANBOYS, stay on their own forums, or at least post something that is INTERESTING to read, cause all the stuff all the fanboys write arn't AT ALL... :P This is one of the reasons why I never really do anything on this website, i mostly i go to IGN, not so much o those damn fanboys nagging at each other, GROW UP MAN! BTW, normsta i tottaly agree! :P

cameroncu2
cameroncu2

@rob3nelson But Bioshock will also be released for PC, so we can still buy it. It might even be released for PS3 in a few months. Why don't you call some exclusives for the 360. And don't say Halo 3, cause it will be released for the PC eventually. Gears of War... a good game, but also this one will be released for PC. Now let me call some PS3 exclusives: SOCOM, Ratchet & Clank, Uncharted, Folklore, Warhawk, Final Fantasy (Versus) 13, Killzone 2, MGS4, White Knight Story, Eight Days, God of War 3, etc. etc..... It's just such a long list, I don't wanna continue finishing it :P

killzone221145
killzone221145

wjkflke "This game sucks. It just shows how desperate sony is for exclusives." who taught you how to spell. you probably haven't even played the game. Your just sad you don't have a ps3 so your flaming the game. No one knows if it's good or not. Your probably another xbox 360 fan-boy who thinks all ps3 games suck. If it's about the ps3 why click it this topic and post in it anyways if your just gonna attempt to diss it

Sanguis_Malus
Sanguis_Malus

I'm waiting to see what this turns out like once its released in retail form. At least the motion on the Six-Axis appears to be getting some decent use at last.