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May 1, 2007
Genji: Days of the Blade - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
23/3/2007SonySonyGame Republic1None
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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There are plenty of characters on-screen.
The first Genji game, released on the PS2, was a bit of an unfortunate title. A beautifully crafted game that both looked amazing and played very well, it was pushed aside by other titles in the Action/Adventure genre released at about the same time. However, we here at futuregamez both played and enjoyed the title immensely. As such, we were quite anticipating the sequel, titled "Genji: Days of the Blade", on Sony’s new Playstation 3 system and were eager to get our hands on it. What we found upon loading this game was a lot of mixed feelings and something that was, inevitably, going to be quite hard and painful to review. So here you have it...

Genji: Days of the Blade takes place roughly three years after the previous release and starts out simply enough. Yoshitsune and Benkei are about to start work on clearing out the remaining Heishi clan rebels when all of a sudden a new force, powered by an unknown dark energy, starts reaping havoc all over the place. While there is more to it than just that, that sentence sums up the plot fairly well. Unfortunately, whereas the story was a strong point in the first title, it is not the case here. But enough on that; let’s get on to how the game plays.

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Flame effects are also pretty special.
Players are given the chance to, once again, play as both Yoshitsune and Benkei to fight the forces of evil in feudal Japan. But they are not alone this time. Accompanied by Lady Shizuka and a new character, Lord Buson, all four characters play quite differently and players will have to master all of them in order to get through the levels. They also all fight quite differently, and you can switch between characters in real-time, meaning that you can throw an enemy into the air with Benkei’s attack, then swap to Yoshitsune and catch them, immediately going into an attack. This also applies to weapons, which can also be swapped at any point.

While combat is definitely where the main focus is, it is not the only element to Genji. This time round there are quite a lot of puzzles to solve in order to advance the level. These range from simple to quite elaborate and while they are quite refreshing at first, they quickly become annoying and far too frustrating. Unfortunately, this is but one of the many issues that brings this release far below a must have title.

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Yet more slashing action.
Aside from the already mentioned frustrating puzzles, and bare-bones plot, the in-game combat is a very old style ala Dynasty Warriors, where players will find themselves outnumbered and simply continue mashing one or two buttons to kill everything on screen. This is only hampered further by the camera, which cannot be manipulated by the player in any way, meaning that enemies are often off screen until they attack.

Level design is also very linear and does not really reward exploration. The few secret locations that you can access are not all that secret, or ridiculously hard to get to. Thankfully though, the developers have left in two of the most enjoyable parts of game play from the first title, counter-attacks (which can be done by pressing attack just before the enemy strikes you, initiating a one-hit kill) and the Kamui attack, which allows you to take out entire groups of enemies with chained one-hit kills.

There are even more problems with this release though, including frame-rate slow downs, out-dated level design, cliché plot points with an almost anime feel, and so on. However, Genji: Days of the Blade is not without its redeeming qualities.

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Up to 8 hits in a row.
To say that the game looks beautiful is an understatement. Everything looks amazing, from the realistic environments, to the traditional-style enemies (traditional as in from Japan folk lore), to the motion-captured combat, to the amazingly crafted cinema-like cut-scenes. There are few games to date that can boast such lush and vivid colours, and while the camera may be annoyingly constrictive, it does show off these beautiful environments very well, as well as the wonderful character models. Sure, in a year we will look back on these games and think "they weren’t anything special", but at the moment, Genji looks amazing, particularly on a 720p HD TV for those of you lucky enough to have one. The only issue here is that there is sometimes a noticeable slow down, particularly when using Benkei to take on large groups of enemies.

Likewise, audio in this release is a great effort. In particular, the soundtrack, made up of traditional Japanese score which really adds an extra air of authenticity to the game. On top of this, voice acting is once again very good, and for those of you who prefer to play with Japanese audio and English subtitles, the option is, once again, available, while the English audio is quite decent also. Overall, Genji is a treat for your ears, particularly in full Dolby Digital 5.1!

I mentioned earlier that this review is painful to do. That is because, despite its technical issues, horrid flaws, and run-of-the mill plot and combat, I really did enjoy playing through Genji: Days of the Blade, and to look at it so critically is quite a difficult task. Perhaps the best thing I can tell potential buyers is this: if you enjoyed the first game, you will enjoy this one; if you hated the first, you will also hate this. For those who didn’t play the first, give it a rent before you buy, because it really is one of those love/hate affairs.

Review By: Michael Hutchesson

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GRAPHICSA showcase of the PS3s power with only a few issues – beautiful environments and cinematics.
SOUNDTraditional Japanese drums and other instruments plus great voice acting make this the strongest element of the release.
GAMEPLAYA mixed bag – varying from frustrating and uninspired, through to fast-paced and enjoyable. You will either love or hate this one.
VALUEAbout 15 hours to complete with little reason to replay, better than the first but still lacking.
OVERALLMore a showcase of graphics and audio, with gameplay that will probably disappoint and leave most gamers wanting more. Rent it first!

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