If you thought Lara Croft didn’t wear much, just wait ‘til you play X-Blades. In the game you play as a character called Ayumi, a blonde, lithe little lady who collects treasure in all her manga glory. One day she stumbles across half an artefact and, when trading a crystal skull in a shop, accidentally finds the other half. They join together and spin around like something out of Hellraiser and out come lots of nasty evil things. She defeats them and then the artefact turns into a map, so she goes on a quest to find more treasure which the map points to.
And so your adventure begins as you hack and slash your way through the game, filling up your rage meter and casting elemental spells as you go.
Think of the gameplay as similar to Devil May Cry. You can hit enemies with your swords or use them as dual-wielded pistols as you lock onto them and shoot from distance. You can also jump around Lara Croft-style as you do this too. The first thing you’ll notice is how good the game looks. The cell-shaded anime characters and environments are very colourful for a change and everything runs at a great pace. In essence you make your way forward, enter an arena, fight whatever’s there and move on. There are plenty of nasties to fight too. As well as two wolfmen called The Light and The Dark, there are dinosaurs, massive flying dragonlies, spiders, phantoms and elementals to fight. These need specific magic to beat. For example, an ice elemental will need to be downed with a fireball. Magic can be assigned to different buttons on the joypad as you collect souls.
Although X-Blades has all the makings of a fantastic hack and slash game, there’s something about it which just makes it a good game instead of a great game. Unfortunately, one of the problems lies in Ayumi herself. She’s actually a bit annoying and it’s a bit like making Paris Hilton run around in her pants as she goes ‘Oh My Gaaaawd’ and mumbles other blonde clichés. The enemies are also not very inventive. The main thing that will kill you is when they attack by numbers, making some parts of the game a test of stamina rather than skill. Some arenas take a while to clear as wave after wave of enemy appears before you’re allowed to move on. Even bosses usually require just one form of elemental attack to kill, resulting in you keeping your distance and getting in the odd shot now and again until they eventually give up.
XBlades isn’t a bad game by any means and if you’re waiting for something to fill the gap before God of War 3 surfaces on the PS3, this could be worth a look. It gets a good 6 out of 10.
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