Genji: Dawn of the Samurai Updated Hands-On

Though Genji was recently released in Japan, this was the first time we've gotten a chance to see this hack-and-slash samurai game subtitled in English.

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LOS ANGELES--Developed by Game Republic, a studio formed by noted ex-Capcom designer Yoshiki Okamoto, Genji is a hack-and-slash action adventure set in ancient Japan. The game tells the story of two unlikely heroes--a slender swordsman named Yoshitsune and a gigantic warrior-monk named Benkei--who take it upon themselves to rid the land of the menacing threat brought on by the Heishi samurai sect. We've seen plenty of the game in the last few months, especially in the recently released Japanese retail version (read our report). However, we finally got a chance to play Genji in English at this year's G-Phoria award show event--or, rather, we got to play it with English subtitles.

We don't expect any significant changes in the North American version of Genji, outside of the English subtitles. All the dialogue remains in Japanese, which is probably a blessing for the production process but also a decision that rightfully preserves the game's Japanese feel. English-language subtitles make all the dialogue coherent, though, and from what we saw of it, the localization seemed to be of high quality, capturing the tone and spirit of the various characters of the game.

Genji offers a lot of pure action, often pitting you (as Yoshitsune or Benkei) against a half-dozen opponents at a time. Fluid controls allow you dispatch your enemies with relative ease, though, and the ability to use your kamui technique--also known as the mind's eye--sometimes means being able to strike down numerous opponents with a single deadly stroke. The action moves beautifully and looks great, and there are some adventure and role-playing elements thrown in for good measure. Genji will definitely appeal to fans of Capcom's similar Onimusha titles.

We like how Genji looks and plays, but we haven't played it all the way through yet. Unfortunately, though this game looks mostly finished, we'll need to wait till late this year for the North American version's release.

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