These days, fancy graphics will only get you so far at E3, and in the wider gaming world for that matter. As I walked through the Sony Playstation 3 area of the show floor, I noticed a lot of really pretty graphics, but when really pretty graphics are the norm they can start to look a little less spectacular.
I saw giant robots, some kind of spaceship, cars, and Sonic. I don’t mean to downplay the significant graphic quality of the Playstation 3, but a driving game is always going to be a driving game no matter how real the cars look.
Something that did catch my eye however was a certain red-haired female named Nariko, who was at that time completely owning a gladiator arena full of armed bad guys. No, Nariko is not a booth babe gone bad ; she’s the star of Heavenly Sword currently being developed by Ninja Theory.
Heavenly Sword is a fast-paced action beat down that takes place in a feudal-Asian setting and features some extraordinary graphics, even for the PS3. Nariko wields two swords with fluid precision and has a variety of attacks and stances. She has ranged attack capabilities that send the swords out on chains in deadly orbits damaging whatever people and furniture might be unfortunate enough to get in the way.
Comparisons to God of War are inevitable, and not at all inappropriate. The action looks very similar and there are even timed-button-pressing mini-games (a la God of War boss encounters) drawing the two games close together in terms of design philosophy.
However, Heavenly Sword’s graphics are far and above those of God of War (and God of War II for that matter), showcasing much of the visual prowess of the PS3. Additionally, the combat has more variety than GoW, and the environments provide items that can be picked up and thrown at your opponents. Nariko’s different stances promise to keep the combat interesting allowing the player to pick how to engage each enemy. The demo was short consisting of basically just the combat engine, so there isn’t much to know about the story or the level design, but Heavenly Sword could turn out to be a must-have title for Playstation 3 owners.