Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action Games
Publisher: SouthPeak Interactive
Developer: Gaijin Entertainment/TopWare Interactive
4 MB to Save Game
Many video games on the market are developed with great intentions. I often envision large board room meetings with excited developers making their pitch to have certain elements included in their game. After the pitches are delivered everyone nods in agreement convinced they have a winner. Later, when the game is eventually released after months, and sometimes even years of hard work, the disappointment sets in as the game falls flat on its face. X Blades, unfortunately, is one such game. Developed by Gaijin Entertainment and TopWare Interactive, and published by SouthPeak Interactive, X Blades arrives on the Xbox 360 with some great intentions and a sexy main character. But at the end of the day I am left with the opinion that X Blades is hardly a game worth adding to your Xbox 360 library.
Visually, X Blades is not a bad looking game, but it isn’t a great looking one either. On the plus side, the art design is solid and our main character, Ayumi, is yummy. However the textures appear muddy and the visuals do not hold a candle to other next-generation games in its genre. Overall X Blades comes across as a poor mans Prince of Persia.
The best aspect of the visuals is by far Ayumi. Clearly the developers wanted to leave nothing left to the imagination with her character design. Clearly the ‘sex sells’ approach was taken with this game when it came to her design. Simply put she is hot but a tad over the top. I should not feel the need to turn off a game as I hear my wife coming down the stairs leading to my home office to see what game I playing. Well, that is exactly the guilty feeling I had when and much of that is due to our half naked treasure hunter herself. With her pony tails and tiny g-string, not much is left to the imagination in X Blades and many male adolescent teens will be pleased.
Once you stop envisioning all the things you would want to do with Ayumi, you will notice there are some decent looking ancient temple environments in X Blades. Yet, they are not as clean or detailed as we have seen from other games. Put X Blades beside a game like Ubisoft’s recently released Prince of Persia and there is no comparison. On the other hand some of shadowing and lighting effects are very good. As for the enemy design nothing is incredibly innovative here. Many of the enemies look like re-treads from other games and none of the monsters left the hairs on the back of my neck standing.
Overall, the audio in X Blades is forgettable and uninspiring. The voice acting is corny and not believable by any stretch while the soundtrack is forgettable and highly repetitive. The sounds of the weapons do not pack a punch as they should either and other in-game sound effects do not really enhance the gameplay whatsoever. X Blades was a major disappointment in this area and I cannot help but be left with the feeling so much more could have been done in this department
For those not aware, X Blades is a port of sorts from a 2007 Russian game called Oniblade for the PC. I do not know much about Oniblade but do a quick search on the internet and images of Ayumi are blasted all over the place. In terms of the storyline, the premise is very simple: Ayumi, our sexy little vixen, is on a search for a powerful and ancient artifact. Hidden away ages ago, the magical artifact is believed to grant its possessor power, fame and fortune. While on her quest Ayumi will fight her way through multiple worlds and environments which contain a never ending stream of monsters and enemies. Using her gunblades and magical abilities she embarks a journey to conquer the enemies and find the lost artifact.
On the surface the games storyline gives you the sense there is potential for an intriguing Tomb Raider-like adventure. Sadly, I did not care much for the storyline nor did I really have a sense what was going on until I read the games instruction booklet. I usually play the game first and only refer to the manual if I get stuck. In this case it is highly recommended you read the rather large manual first then jump into the game so you have a semblance of what is going on. That is if you even care.
Overall, X-Blades plays very similar to Sony’s Heavenly Sword. It is a ‘hack and slash’ game of sorts where you have to defeat hordes of monsters and enemies until you encounter a boss fight. That is X Blades in a nutshell. All the levels seemingly play out in similar fashion which is not usual for games in this genre.
Where the game takes a turn for the worse is in its execution. Have you even seen five and six-year old kids play soccer? Generally, you see a pack of kids all following the soccer ball like a swarm of bees chasing honey. This is the feeling I frequently got in X Blades as I often felt like my character was the ball. Everywhere I went a pack of enemies surrounded and suffocated me until I could hack my way out. Far too often I would find myself mindlessly mashing the X button with no results as the swarm never seemed to let up. In addition to mashing away with her gunblades, Ayumi also has the ability to shoot her guns, however they feel more like pellet guns than anything else. Far too often you will need to use your magic to the point that magic is more frequently used than Ayumi’s main weapons. Yet even magic does not always do the trick. This whole pattern of combat repeats itself over and over again in X Blades. I found myself getting frustrated, bored and angry with the game. You don’t even want to know what I said to our Editor-in-Chief after only 1-hour of gameplay.
The controls are straight forward but not always very responsive. Some actions do not generate the kind of response I expected and this occurred far too often. Guns are mapped to the right trigger while magic is mapped to the Y, B and LB buttons. You hit the select button (which you also have to do far too often) to map out your magic. Ayumi also has a combo counter that gives her a soul multiplier which will help you obtain more techniques faster, giving you the incentive to do better in your encounters with the games enemies. Power-ups and coin fragments, which grant upgrades when collected, are hidden throughout the game too. Power-ups include magic, combat techniques, teleporting and weapon boosts. Additionally, you can earn experience points which can be converted into skills. These skills are either "good" or "bad" in nature so depending on which ones you use the ending which be directly impacted.
Another concern I have is the games save system. Often I would battle through ten minutes worth of continuous waves of enemies only to eventually meet my fate. Instead of picking up where I left off, or even going back to a point a bit earlier, the game puts me right back at the start of the level. Would it have been too much to ask for some frequent checkpoints? Heck I could even settle for some infrequent ones. Bottomline, I found this incredibly frustrating and really turned me off the game. I would almost rather walk away than endure another period of my life playing and dying which is time that I will never get back.
As for a multiplayer or cooperative mode, none is included in the game. A co-operative mode could have made for a less frustrating experience however none is included. I think that it would have been interesting to see more what could have been done in this department and it could have helped the overall gameplay experience.
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