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March 4, 2007
God Hand - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
21/2/2007ActivisionClover Studio1MMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
150KBDolby PLIIYesYesNoneNo

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There's a couple of enemies around.
What happens when you take the old 2D side-scrolling beat 'em ups like Double Dragon and Streets of Rage and turn them into a 3D beat 'em up? It seems thatís the exact question Clover Studios (responsible for gems such as Viewtiful Joe 2 and the more recent Okami) were trying to ask when creating God Hand. An over-the-top (to put it lightly) cowboy-bashing button-mashing game from beginning to end, God Hand is one of the more unique titles to hit the PS2 in years, but is this RSI-inducting release for you? Only one way to find out... well two really Ė read this review or go and buy it!

Let me start by saying this: if you want a plot-driven game with a well-told and deep story, then change to a different review. Pretty much the only plot youíre going to get is that the main character, Gene, has had his right arm cut off and replaced by another (the "God Hand" hence the title), and he is out for revenge against the three demons responsible. Honestly, Iíve just given you the entire game plot. While itís quite a woeful piece of story-telling, it does what it needs to, which is to set up the premise for lots, and I mean lots, of button-mashing brawling.

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Sends him flying!
The fully-customisable fighting system, based on many different fighting styles, is quite fun to play, but is quite limiting. To pass this game you are going to need quick reflexes and a good memory (to memorise which combo to use when). Basic gameplay is as follows: enter room, kill enemies, move on, wash, rinse, and repeat. Thereís not a lot of complexity here and levels are entirely linear without a single puzzle at all. Granted, this may not sound too appealing in this day of games offering almost infinite freedom, but it is as much fun as Streets of Rage was back in the day!

Controls are simple, left analog stick is normal movement; right is dodging (which you will need to master to survive) and the action buttons offer the different combos. There are also some special moves, activated by selection from a roulette brought up with L1, which are quite fun to use. But for the most part, your tactic will be to knock an enemy down, then stomp on him til he has no more health. Occasionally you will also get the chance to try out special enemy-specific attacks, such as spanking the many dominatrix-looking women, or kicking a thug in his crotch. Some of these are quite funny.

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God Hand moves pretty well too!
Being a fairly low-budget game focused more on paying homage to older brawlers, God Hand has more than its share of problems. The camera is extremely limiting and often cuts through level architecture. Controls are quite annoying at first and make the game extremely frustrating in parts. The game itself is quite difficult and staying alive provides more of a challenge than defeating the enemies usually. The plot is cheesy, and voice acting quite silly. I could go on, and while they all sound like key annoyances, they honestly do fade into the background. What you will notice is the games fast-paced brawling combat, the outrageous enemy design, and more than anything else, the humorous approach taken by Clover Studios, often even making fun of their own work.

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God hand inflicts some pain.
God Hand is far from a technical wonder, and in many ways it would have been a disappointing technical release even a few years ago. Graphically this remains true. Having a very dated look, levels are quite bland and uninteresting, and while enemies themselves look quite funny, there are only a limited amount of models and you will see the same enemies time and time again. The entire trip through this crazy western brawler feels very much repeated over and over.

The one graphical feat which does restore my respect for this title is the way that the tight behind-player camera captures the speed of the fighting. It is a lot of fun to go in and take on the demons, thugs, cowboys, and so on, simply because it looks fun. Character animations are amazing (due to being motion-captured) and add a lot to fights. The moves may be ridiculous, unrealistic and over-the-top, but they look fantastic!

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Just standing in the light...
Sound effects also help to make fighting countless enemy after enemy fun, and have a very cartoony/retro-arcade feel to them. Likewise, the soundtrack, which is very surfie-rock, makes you feel like youíre playing God Hand on an arcade machine rather than your PS2. Voice acting is decent enough and dialogue lines are funny, though the humour is very hit-or-miss. Itís not the most beautiful sounding game, but whatís there fits the title to a T.

After Viewtiful Joe 2 and Okami, and now God Hand, itís a real shame that Clover Studios is no more - although many members have formed a new company called Seeds. God Hand has its share of problems, but they are pushed into the background for some mindless button-mashing brawling fun that will bring back fond memories of the 8 and 16-bit glory days of gaming.

Review By: Michael Hutchesson

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSGreat animation, but fairly bland and boring otherwise.
67%
SOUNDStraight out of an arcade machine, it suites the game perfectly.
82%
GAMEPLAYRepetitive and difficult, with some frustrating issues, but God Hand is more fun than all that.
80%
VALUEFairly long for the game type, and at a budget price - a nice pick up.
79%
OVERALLTechnically this is a fairly shoddy release, but it has done one thing right that makes up for all that Ė itís great fun.
77%

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