7 Blades Hands-On

Our man overseas got his hands on a final Japanese copy of 7 Blades, Konami's cinematic beat-'em-up that lets you hack-and-slash your way through oodles of evil enemies in historic Japan.

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7 Blades is Konami's sword-swinging cinematic beat-'em-up that puts you in the role of one of two classic Japanese warriors who must fight their way through a plot deep in action, suspense, and mystery. We recently got our hands on a final Japanese version of the game to see how 7 Blades stacks up.

Unlike some games where the gameplay hardly differs between characters, playing 7 Blades with the two different characters, Gokurakumaru and Yuri, is quite a different experience. Gokurakumaru is the sword-wielding samurai, equipped with seven different types of katanas, which his sidekick, who is more like a sword-carrying caddy than a sidekick, carries around at all times. Playing as Gokurakumaru is a bit similar to playing Koei's Dynasty Warriors 2 or Yukes' Sword of the Berserk, and, because Gokurakumaru can't land on ledges or climb to rooftops, the fighting experience is more straightforward than playing with Yuri. Yuri, on the other hand, uses different types of firearms as her weapons of choice and spends more of her time exploring and accomplishing adventure-game-type goals. Yuri has a limited amount of ammo and has the ability to climb up onto rooftops and shimmy across ledges, although she only uses this advantage to get in a better shooting position.

Despite the differences, the controls work out the same. Pressing the attack button several times will give you a multiple attack combo, while using L1 to lock-on to enemies and slowly hitting the attack button will give you a more precise attack. You can also use special attacks when your combo gauge becomes full. Some of these combo attacks are filled with eye-candy special effects, and watching them will wow the audience. Unfortunately, the camera has some real issues, and it doesn't follow your character as well as we'd like. Hitting the L1 or L2 buttons will let you manually adjust the camera, but this becomes rather tedious.

At start, the game is a fun hack-and-slash game, but the thrill does not last long enough to keep the game interesting. The enemies will respawn indefinitely, and they often look exactly the same. As such, the game isn't about killing enemies to complete the level - it's about getting from one point to the next. This isn't as obvious as it would seem at the start of the game, and soon the throngs of look-alike enemies simply become tiresome.

Though the gameplay may not be top-notch, the CG movies are definitely worth looking at. The cinematic presentation and dialogues are witty and sharp as if you are watching a samurai-anime flick. Reason for that is, the man behind the game is Japanese director Kaizo Hayashi, known for his works such as Stairway to the Distant Past and Most Terrible Time in My Life.

With everything set in place sans gameplay, 7 Blades could have turned out to be a better game than it was expected. A worthy rental for gamers and something to look at if you like samurai anime.

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