Review: Blades of Time (PS3)

Title: Blades of Time
Format: Blu-ray Disc
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Gaijin Entertainment
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: M
Blades of Time is also available on Xbox 360, PC and Mac OS X.
The PlayStation 3 version was used for this review.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 264 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
The spiritual successor to 2009’s X-Blades, Blades of Time puts you in the shoes of Ayumi, a sword, magic and gun wielding treasure hunter. After battling and killing members of your own guild in a cut scene at the beginning of the game, you touch a mystical orb and you’re transported to Dragonland where fortune awaits.

As a third person action game it’s not too bad. You’ll acquire numerous combat abilities and weapon upgrades along the way and you’ll need to put them all to good use if you want to survive. With all the different magic abilities, combat can be varied and fun. You’ll eventually learn how to rewind time for a bit which will allow you to work past certain puzzles and enemies. You may need to stand on two switches at once or you may need to have multiple versions of yourself all concentrating fire on a particular enemy to bring them down. It takes a little getting used to, but it’s a pretty unique element and one of the better parts of the game.

Problems crop up quickly though. Ayumi herself isn’t really all that likeable as a character. Her motivations are somewhat unclear, the dialogue is downright terrible at times and she doesn’t really seem to care who she’s killing or why. Shortcuts were made during development which make the game feel a bit shoddy. Invisible walls abound in the most puzzling places and the camera can get pretty sloppy at times, mostly during boss fights.

Speaking of boss fights, hit detection is spotty and the fights can get tedious leading to frustration. The only thing that got me to push through some of them was the mildly interesting story and the fact that I was writing this review. The fights often feel cheap as you have to target a specific area on one boss but your homing ability is distinctly lacking here and here only. In a later fight, where the time shift ability would come in handy, it’s suddenly unavailable to you, leading to an incredibly long and drawn out fight for no reason other than to extend gameplay time.

The story itself somewhat bizarre, but it’s at least interesting enough that I wanted to see where it went. Unfortunately, the poorly conceived boss battles really put my patience to the test.

Visuals:
Blades of Time is actually a really good looking game, definitely above average. There’s a good use of lighting and particle effects throughout the different areas and enemies you’ll encounter. When time shifting, the color palette shifts towards the reddish-purple spectrum giving the game and the mechanic itself a unique look.

Enemies phase in and out of existence with a cool shimmery cloaking effect and the character models are pretty varied if a bit odd. Ayumi and her partner Zero also look pretty good with nice detail in their clothing and general appearance.

Audio:
The voice-overs are certainly one of the weaker parts of the game as the delivery can sound pretty bad at times and the lip synching is downright atrocious. The music itself sounds great and fits well with the style of the game but the cues are poorly handled.

Music swells to match the excitement of battle but will continue at times after you’ve killed the last enemy. It appears that it’ll usually die down once you cross a certain trigger point in the environment or it’ll just figure it out on it’s own after a while. It all seems a bit sloppy.

Online/Multiplayer:
The online mode, called Outbreak, is available as Vs. or Co-op. Essentially, you have three or four environments to choose from and a number of options including costumes and magic. You’ll rush into battle trying to defend several pillars and your Tree of Life while taking out the same on the other side.

It’s very basic and very thin. Your time shift ability isn’t available here and there’s usually nobody online to play against from what I could tell. Apparently Gaijin planned for this and they allow you to jump into a match on your own with AI partners. While initially interesting as a large hack and slash fest, it gets old pretty quickly.

Conclusion:
Extra development time probably wouldn’t have saved this game. It’s pretty clear that choices were made early on in development and corners were cut. The story is somewhat interesting, the combat can be fun at times and the time shift feature is a stand out but the rest of the game feels mediocre to poor. The fact that it’s a budget title at $39.99 at least seems to show that Konami understood what kind of game they had on their hands.

Score:
6.5

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  • braun6

    If you’re looking for a good time-bending puzzler look no further than Ratchet & Clank’s A Crack in Time.  Adding to the already established great gameplay and incredible arsenal, A Crack in Time mixes things up with some great time rewinding puzzles.