Heavenly Sword's Nariko is a scary combination that's one part Dante, one part Kratos, and all parts pain. She joins the likes of Raiden, Evil Cole MacGrath, and Sir Daniel Fortesque in the latest round of character reveals, and can certainly hold her own against any of them. Her play style shares some of the same strengths and weaknesses as Dante's, detailed here, and you can see her in action for yourself in the clip below.
It took us about a half-dozen matches to find our groove with Nariko. Once we did, we found she was great at singling out opponents, and excelled when confronted by a single opponent. Her fighting style required some finesse but when executed well could lead into some long combo strings with nasty mix-up options. However, those same extended strings could be her undoing if another fighter happened to be nearby--all they had to do was attack Nariko from behind to disrupt her flurry of blades.
SQUARE: Standard Attacks
This button controlled all of Nariko's standard sword swipes. When you're starting with this character, a yellow ring appears below her after performing certain combos. This ring marks a break in her combo string. After a break she can continue the assault, attempt a throw, dodge roll, or take other actions. Continuing the assault may seem like the obvious choice, but since there's a slight delay after the ring appears, her opponent has time to recover (and block) so the hits are not guaranteed.
TRIANGLE: Situational Attacks
One of Nariko's most useful attacks was on this button: she throws out her sword and pulls opponents toward her, like Scorpion's "Get Over Here!" from Mortal Kombat. This move was great for isolating targets and assaulting them with combo strings. It could be performed in the air (striking at a downward angle) as well. Up and triangle in the air was also very useful. This move swung Nariko through the air, damaging anyone she touched. It was great for mobility, as well as hit-and-run attacks.
CIRCLE: Tools and Weapons
Using this button gave us a taste of her full arsenal. Toward and circle was her primary ranged attack: a cannon that fired a single-shot projectile that traveled nearly full screen. After striking an enemy--or reaching maximum distance--the projectile would explode, damaging those nearby. This attack generated a good amount of energy on hit, but did leave Nariko exposed after fighting (she drops the cannon rather slowly). Still, with such great range, it was perfect for harassing our opponents when they clustered together.
Down and circle was another useful attack. Nariko would stab her sword into the ground, causing large blades to erupt around her. Opponents struck by this attack would be stunned just long enough for us to recover and attack, or dodge roll away. The only downside was that this move had a long startup animation. But this could be mitigated by starting the attack in midair so that when our heroine hit the ground, the blades would follow right after. With a little practice, she might be able to use this attack as a setup for her level-one super.
SPECIALS: The Killing Blow
Honestly, all Nariko needed was her level-one super. When it was performed, Kai would appear and detonate a barrel of fireworks a short distance in front of her. The explosion from the barrel would instantly dispatch any nearby opponents--the only thing left to learn was the spacing. Her level-two super was a cannonball turret. It had rapid fire and long range and was great except when the opponent got behind it. Finally, her level-three transformed her into a one-hit wonder. Not only did her attacks kill, but they had new, stylish animations where Nariko would hook her opponents and spin them around a few times before killing them. It's also worth noting that when you're performing her level-three super, the match timer is paused for the duration.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale will be available for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita on November 20, and those who purchase the game on the PS3 will receive a free download voucher for the Vita version as well. For more on the game, check out our extended character demo for Raiden.