Written by Mark Mackay

March 1, 2009 | 08:51

Tags: #action #adventure #cry #devil #hack #may #review #slash

Companies: #topware-interactive


Publisher: SouthPeak Games
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
UK Price (as reviewed): £24.99 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $46.99 (ex. Tax)

The third person hack ‘n’ slash genre has always been a difficult one to pull off successfully. One trap that developers tend to fall into is making gameplay as repetitively tedious as the scores of demons that inhabit the game world are butt ugly. Another problem, that’s arguably more difficult to avoid, is fabricating an original storyline which is something that involves actually coming up with some fresh ideas.

Whether X-Blades faces these challenges admirably or not, it has something that very few other games in the genre have…white cotton panties.

Yes, if there is one way to guarantee at least the bare minimum of copy sales it’s to stick a ludicrously sexy blonde wearing the bare minimum of clothes on the front cover. Protagonist and pro treasure hunter, Ayumi is far from a typical girl in every sense short of the fact she clearly has little concept of dressing practically.

X-Blades PC X-Blades PC - Review
Some of the animations for Ayumi's spells are awesome

The game is set in a universe ‘long, long ago’ – although there is no mention of a galaxy far, far away – ruled by two powerful beings known as The Enlightened and The Dark One. Needless to say the two chaps were polar opposites of one another, which resulted in tiffs and spats that lasted hundreds of years and ‘shook the universe to its very core’.

The back story reads; ‘Finally, thanks to a trick, the Enlightened succeeded in banishing the divine power of the Dark One, imprisoning it in an Artifact’. There’s no elaboration of exactly what kind of trick it was, but we’re assuming it involved a deck of cards, a red sponge ball and disposable beverage cups. And some lube.

Unfortunately for The Enlightened however, he and The Dark One were linked and so he lost all his powers. The story then goes on to say ‘This is how two Artifacts came to be hidden in a huge Temple - and how the Enlightened prevented the downfall of the entire universe'.

X-Blades PC X-Blades PC - Review
The way the thong-wearing warrioress runs provides a gratuitous bottom shot

Now, it might just be my imagination, but I’m fairly sure a few essential stages were missed out there.

Vagaries of story line aside, the game is introduced with a cut scene in which our thong-wedgied warrior visits her local pawn broker to see what she can get for a crystal skull she no doubt blagged from an ancient temple of one description or another. While the store attendant inspects the goods Ayumi takes a stroll around and finds an artefact that closely resembles another she has hidden somewhere under the Jedi-style cloak she’s wearing. It must have pockets somewhere...

It turns out that the two pieces join together to form a map that leads to the very artefact that the Enlightened had previously banished the Dark one and voila; you have the premise for a hack 'n' slash. Job's a good 'un. The animations in the cut scenes are very well drawn and generally have a great style, with the colours having a certain washed out quality which looks pretty cool. It does seem as if they've been rendered at a low resolution though, as they looked a little stretched out at 1,920 x 1,200.
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