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December 20, 2005
Genji: The Legend Begins - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
27/10/2005SonyGame Republic1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
265KBDolby PLIIYesYesNoneNo

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One of the stunning bosses.
The third person action genre is one of the most competitive on the Playstation 2. We have Capcom's Devil May Cry trilogy and Onimusha series, and Sony's God of War as the standouts, but there have also been good ones like Blood Will Tell all the way down to the horrible ones like Spawn. When we heard that Yoshiki Okamotoís new game company Game Republic was entering the fray we were more than a touch excited. You see Okamotoís resume is one of the most impressive in all of gaming being behind such massive hits as Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Onimusha and Devil May Cry to name a few. So how does Game Republicís debut effort stand up? Letís find out.

The story to Genji is quite strong and starts out with a fantastic cut scene which lets you know what the game is all about. The game is set in ancient feudal Japan with a samurai clan called the Heishis, who are on a quest to destroy all that oppose them. Which isnít too hard for them since there generals are all equipped with magical relics called Amahagane stones. So they roam the lands looking for all the Amahagane stones to make there army invincible. Donít worry though its not all doom and gloom; you take control of Yoshitsune a young warrior who also has a Amahagane stone in his possession. Yoshitsune is one of the last remaining members of his tribe known as the Genji and he is determined to rid the world of the Heishi at any cost. He is soon joined in battle by a massive man named Benkei and the two set off to take out the Heihi army and find as many Amahagane stones as possible.

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Graphics really are stunning.
Any one who has played any of the Onimusha games will be right at home in Genji. The game is a fast paced hack and slash title with some tight controls which really make the game stand out from the crowd. You have two main attack buttons, pressing the square button gives you your standard attack while hitting the triangle button gives you a power attack. While it may sound limited in use it is really good, you can use combinations of the two to get some awesome combos going, or you can hold the button down for a more powerful attack. You can also do some aerial attacks as well; defending in this game is handled nicely with a press of the R1 button. The best feature of the game is the Kamui power. You earn this by defeating enemies which in turn fills up your magic meter. Then you press the L1 button to slow down time. So far it sounds like every other matrix style system but Genji does have a new use for it. When you slow down time you can counter your enemyís attacks with a devastating move. When your enemies are about to attack, you will see a square button icon flash, and you have to time your press perfectly to perform the move which kills most normal enemies in one hit. Getting the timing right is hard as it is different for every enemy in the game. The Kamui is especially useful in the games many challenging boss fights. The bosses in this game are great and provide quite a contest.

You get to take control of both Yoshitsune and Benkei at various stages of the game with different styles for both. Yoshitsune is a much faster character who is deadly with his sword while Benkei is a slow character who swings a huge pillar around. You also need to use both characters to get past certain areas, for instance Benkei can move objects that are too large for Yoshitsune to move. You also level up your characters with use making them stronger and learning more attacks. The key is you can only level up the character you are controlling, so you are best of using both characters as much as possibly to keep them evenly balanced or you will have one strong character and one weak one. Also you will need to level up frequently as the enemies both grow in strength and numbers quite quickly.

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Using the 'Mind's Eye'.
Not surprisingly Genji is a single player only game. It is probably the one part of the genre that has never been addressed, and to be honest I am not sure how multiplayer can be incorporated successfully.

There are a couple of flaws that prevent Genji from competing with the likes of God of War and Devil May Cry 3. The first and most glaring is the length of the game, it can be ploughed through in about 6 or 7 hours and that includes about an hour of cut scenes. Also once you have finished the game there is little reason to go back through it. God of War is the perfect example of how a few bonuses upon completion can really add to a games life span. The second flaw is with the fixed camera angle, as sometimes it just doesnít give you a good view of the action taking place. Another problem is with the constant cut scenes, while they are very good there are too many of them and they do break up the game.

Visually Genji is right near the top of the list. It looks absolutely stunning, the visuals are bright and everything looks lush. Every environment from ponds to waterfalls and forests looks great with a level of detail rarely seen. The characters themselves are also great to look at, with the highlight being the huge and varied bosses you encounter. The only glitch is that sometimes when there is too much action on screen the game does slow down a bit.

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Battle on the steps.
The sounds to game are of a very high standard indeed. It features full pro logic support as well as some of the best voice acting going. The game also gives you the option to hear it in its original Japanese language as well with English subtitles. The English voice acting in this game is pretty good though, which is rare for these types of games. Also the music that plays in the background is great as well; it features traditional Japanese flute and drums and sounds terrific.

Overall Genji is a very solid game, but it is not quite as good as God of War or Devil May Cry 3. If the game had been released any other year it would have been a standout title, but with so much stiff opposition and the games short length it doesnít become a must have title. If you cant get enough hacking and slashing the game is well worth a look, but for those that own the competition it is probably only worth a rental.

Review By: Graham Darko

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSVisually Genji is one superb title. The characters and environments are fantastic. A little slow down is the only visual problem.
SOUNDGreat music and voice work really add to the games atmosphere.
GAMEPLAYNot the most original game, but the great controls make playing the game a breeze.
VALUEOnly 6 or 7 hours with not many reasons to go back for more.
OVERALLThe game is a very solid title that you will get some enjoyment out of, but sadly it is all over far too soon.

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