reviews\ Nov 4, 2006 at 7:00 pm

God Hand - PS2 - Review

God Hand is the newest and unfortunately the last game to come from Clover Studio, the devs behind such titles as Viewtiful Joe and Okami. Hot off the success of Okami, Clover released God Hand, certainly their strangest title to date. In the game, Gene is your character and is endowed with the God Hand, which has massive power enhancing abilities, and oddly enough, the God Hand is attached to your arm. When the game starts, you and Olivia, who is a girl that is a nuisance to you, are walking into a old western-styled town, when she tells you to help out the citizens who are being bullied by demons. The story and cutscenes don’t really develop the story too well, which keeps the focus on beating the crap out of anyone who gets in your way. The game also doesn’t get any more normal from there on, as the strange offbeat humor becomes more developed and flushed out as time goes on.

If you enjoy beating the ever-living crap out of enemies, then God Hand is definitely the game for you. The combat is the main focus of the game with everything else taking a backseat to that. When you first start off, you only have the most basic of moves, you’re fairly weak and the game isn’t all that engaging, but as you progress, becoming enthralled with the glorious ass-beatings that you hand out will become second nature. Defeating enemies gives you money, which can be used to purchase upgrades and new attacks, about 145 in total. Quick reflexes will be essential in order to link combos and deliver punishing blows to send your foes flying. Using the God Hand’s power can allow you to go into a “turbo” mode in which you’re invulnerable for a short period of time and attacks are delivered in a much more rapid succession. In addition to the turbo abilities of the God Hand, special moves are also available in which you can deliver devastating attacks, provided you have the required power up for them. Special attacks can also be upgraded, in the same way that regular attacks are and stronger attacks will use more energy than weaker attacks.

Throughout the game you’ll face a wide variety of enemies, including fat guys, “dominatrixes,” robots, a gorilla, midget Power Ranger wannabes, and even poison chihuahuas. Certain moves work better than others and the easy to use menu allows for the ease of picking and choosing which attacks you want. With the addition of pushing the left joystick in a direction plus an attack button also creates another attack, adding even more depth to the game. Certain attacks can also knock some enemies away, break their guard or even juggle them, allowing you to deliver some more damage and there are no pulled punches here. Stomping, kicking, pummeling and even spanking allows you to deliver quick blows in repeated succession. The off-the-wall humor really makes the game stand out and makes it much more unique than if it hadn’t been there. Bonus minigames also pop up every so often, requiring you to kill a certain number of enemies in the allotted time, or in an homage to Street Fighter II, destroying a car before time runs out. There is a battle arena in which you can hone your moves and fight on different plateaus of difficulty. A casino tops off the non-standard affairs, offering blackjack, video poker and slots for you to gamble with your hard-earned money.

Part of the reason of why God Hand is so difficult to master is the control scheme. The game controls like Resident Evil 4, with a close-up third-person view of your character. The left joystick moves your character forward and backwards, in addition to turning, so in order to turn, you have to stop moving, which gives you a blind spot and makes you more vulnerable to attack. To remedy this, the right joystick will allow you to dodge to the left, right, do a backflip or duck in order to avoid taking damage and L1 allows for a 180 spin. For the most part, the controls come together in the end, but when fighting multiple enemies, things become a bit more difficult. If done correctly, you’ll be able to seamlessly mix defensive dodges with deadly offensive attacks, often times in repeated succession. The finger mastery required to successfully take down multiple enemies doesn’t come easy and being blindsided with an attack is something that can easily happen. To help you take down enemies, you have some special moves, which you bring up with R1. If you’re not always on your guard, it’s easy to lose a chunk of health, making God Hand one of the most intense and attention-driven games out there.

For a $30 game, God Hand looks a lot better overall than I had expected. Character models are fairly detailed and realistic looking, putting them about on par with the impressive looking characters from Devil May Cry 3. The animation is done well, which is best evidenced from the crazy moves and combos you can pull off. There is plenty of variation among the enemies and they all look quite good, although you can’t really say that about the environments. The environments are fairly plain looking and they get pretty repetitive to look at fairly easily. Whether intentional or not, God Hand’s voice acting is a mix of bad and laughably bad. The game’s great sense of humor mostly comes through in the voice acting, although at times it will seem more awkward than anything else. The game also seems to play on typical Japanese gaming stereotypes in a comical manner.

Despite being a relative simple game, God Hand has quite a bit of depth to it. There’s a lot of stuff to do in the game and upgrading your moves is an essential part of gameplay. The fighting is just plain fun and provides countless opportunities to pulverize enemies. God Hand’s unique style of off-the-wall humor sets the game apart from other beat-em-up games. The story may not make much sense, but with the crazy nature of the game, it can be overlooked. God Hand is a pretty good-looking game and the sound definitely fits with the gameplay. While the controls take a while to get used to, they do work and the more you play, the better you’ll play.

Review Scoring Details for God Hand

Gameplay: 8.0
Beating up on people has never been so much fun, but that’s about all you’ll be doing, there’s plenty of moves to pick and choose from. Mini-games and side-missions can only do so much, so it’s a good thing that you can always go back to pounding on people.

Graphics: 7.7
Character models look great and there are some impressive effects, but bland environments bring the graphics down.

Sound: 7.5
The sound definitely fits with the comedic theme of the game, the voicework is humorous most of the time, albeit sometimes when it comes across as wooden and forced. The powerful sounding attacks also work well to make the combat that much more satisfying.

Difficulty: Hard
God Hand is a tough game, a very tough game. Even on easy mode, it’s still a challenge. People with short tempers need not apply.

Concept: 8.3
Offbeat humor and a plethora of over the top melee combat movies are a winning combination in God Hand.

Overall: 8.1
God Hand is a surprisingly good game, Clover Studio’s last game is certainly their strangest and most experimental. The challenging nature and plethora of attacks allows you to go back to the game quite a bit. While it’s a pretty wacky game, it’s all in good fun, and more importantly, it’s actually funny. God Hand may frustrate you, but nailing a nice combo and then kicking an enemy across the stage or even out of sight makes it all worthwhile. At only $30, you have no reason NOT to give God Hand a shot.


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