Blades of Time review
Did we really ask for a sequel to X-Blades? The forgettable action romp, featuring a buxom blonde warrior who was just as tepid as the quest she was sent on, didn’t really click on any level thanks to its monotonous combat and below-average stage design. Somehow, Konami was tempted to give Ayumi, the main star, another try with Blades of Time, a Gaijin Entertainment-produced sequel with a bigger structure and more opportunities to kick ass. While it is improved in some areas (it wasn’t hard to overcome X-Blades’ multiple flaws), we came away from it feeling like it was nothing more than a low-rent God of War. That may even be giving it too much credit.
The adventure follows Ayumi as she seeks out a treasure within the underworld, though it’s not really explained how she ties into it, or what kind of purpose it truly serves her. All we know is that she really likes talking blatantly about the stuff she’s doing, as well as what she’s going to do next. Granted, it has nothing to do with the story, she just likes gabbing. Over the course of this adventure, she’ll find enemies that deserve a pounding between her twin blades and long-range rifle, as well as humans who are a little judgmental when it comes to teaming up with her. Hmmm, maybe it’s the cleavage.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with Blades of Time’s combat, but then again, there’s nothing that’s really right either. The long-range shooting almost seems kind of pointless, as your bullets have very little impact. For instance, the long-range howlers that spit gunfire at you take at least six shots before they’re even susceptibly damaged, and the enemies on the ground require even more damage before they’re temporarily paralyzed. This leaves your melee combat moves as the major asset, though the moves are so monotonous (similar strikes, followed by the weird spinning flip kick and ground slam) that you’ll dial in your best attacks within seconds.
There are some moves that are noteworthy, such as grabbing objects and propelling off of them to gain height, and using a time reversal system, particularly in combat when you can distract an enemy long enough to strike from behind. But nothing here is particularly worth mastering, and you’ll learn this with the first boss battle, which takes too long for its own good and offers no real reward — or purpose — for beating him. When you begin stifling back yawns, you know your cause is lost.
Aside from the monotonous gameplay, there are also severe problems with the presentation — particularly on the PS3 version, might I add. That version requires a three GB install and yet still has some of the worst screen tearing in recent memory. Try swiveling the camera and you’ll swear the game is broken. The level design is alright but lacking in imagination, as you’ll travel through the same old forest and stone villages on your journey. Ayumi is pretty hot, but she is also designed to the usual sexiness standard. It’s as if Gaijin realized how preposterous she was in X-Blades and tried to make things more serious, only to make them worse. It just looks like something you’d see out of the first generation of PS3 gaming, rather than the 2012 release slate.
But nothing compares to how bad the sound is. The background music is okay, yet uneventful, and the sound effects aren’t too bad. However, Ayumi narrates about everything. We don’t go five steps through the game without her saying something pointless about her journey, such as asking for an elevator (in a STONE VILLAGE nevertheless) or trying to be smarmy, even though she has no one to talk to. We usually don’t mind a hot girl whispering sweet nothings into our ear, but this one needed to lose her voice. How annoying.
Saying Blades of Time is an improvement over X-Blades is like saying three-day old lima beans are better than week-old lima beans. This sequel still suffers from a ton of problems, including a chatty heroine who completely flattens her heroic image, lackluster combat that never evolves (even with time travel), and a quest that isn’t worth completing. We wish we could travel back a few days and forget this game existed.