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Genji: Days of the Blade
Score: 70%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Game Republic
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:
I have to say that I was actually somewhat disappointed by Genji: Days of the Blade's graphics. While the game appears on what is supposed to be the graphically most powerful system, I found myself thinking more times than not that it didn't look a whole lot better than its PS2 predecessor. Granted, Dawn of the Samurai was a great looking game and really pushed that system hard. I'm not saying that Days of the Blade is bad looking, it just doesn't seem to stack up to other PS3 titles like Call of Duty 3 or Resistance: Fall of Man.

Sound is a mixed bag. While I really enjoyed the Asian styled music, the effects for the clashing swords and flying bodies didn't seem to have enough variety and much like the repetitious gameplay, got to be a little too much to handle at times.


Gameplay:
Genji: Days of the Blade's style is just like its prequel. You go from locked-down location to locked-down location, tearing your way through hordes of enemies in a seemingly never-ending hack-n-slash. The constant button-mashing is only interrupted by lengthy story sequences that allow you to give your thumbs a bit of a rest. I was slightly annoyed when the first part of the game was a lengthy story that I couldn't skip, followed by about five seconds of me walking and then another three or four minutes of story. Thankfully, it wasn't quite that bad throughout the game, but the story-to-action ratio was about 50/50 overall.

The battles are typically you in the middle of a dozen or so baddies each lining up to take a swipe at you. Typically they won't come at you one at a time, but I rarely had to fend off more than three at once. The lack in any real variation in this formula (short of the strength and look of the enemies) is one of the things that makes this game so repetitious.

Taking place several years after the first Genji game, Yoshitsune and Benkei are living the high life as protectors of the land. Then one day, the Heishi clan reappears and storms the city. Now it is up to the two fighters (well, later Gozen and a mysterious fourth warrior appear) to stop the monstrous clan from destroying everything.

Again, like the first game, your characters are broken up into very archetypal styles. Gozen is your quick but not very strong fighter, Benkai packs a lot of wallop, but is slow as hell and Yoshitsune is more powerful than Gozen and not as slow as Benkai (for a more balanced fighter).


Difficulty:
Genji: Days of the Blade has a fairly gradual difficulty ramp. While enemies get a little tougher as the game goes on, Days of the Blade typically opts to throw more fodder at you when it wants to make a mission a bit tougher.

The trick to getting past Genji is using Yoshisune for the most part, but knowing when to use the other characters (Bekai, Gozen or Lord Buson) and getting good at the Kamui ultimate-attack mini-game that returns from the previous title. If you are good at tapping buttons as they appear on the screen, then you should have no problem plowing through hordes of enemies with little or no damage.


Game Mechanics:
Genji: Days of the Blade is wrought with bad mechanics that really make playing this game hard. The biggest fault is the camera system. Most of the time the camera is at a bad angle, or it is pulled in so close that although you get a good view of your character, the enemies you are trying to take out are off screen. I don't know how many times I was focusing on one or two enemies that I could see when a third one would swipe at me from just off frame. I found the only way to really compensate for this was to move around the battle field a whole lot. This tactic made it so that I could keep track of where most of the enemies were on my own since I couldn't rely on the camera to actually show me all the threats at a given time.

Other issues arose mostly from balancing issues between your characters. Benkai, though really strong, is just too slow and while he was an effective fighter when in the middle of a crowd, during one-on-one combat, he just didn't do well. Meanwhile Yoshitsune not only handled single-enemy combat fairly well, you could manage a crowd pretty easily with him as well. As an opposite to Benkai, Gozen was really fast, but she never packed enough of a punch to make her worth my while. Consequentially I pretty much always played as the balanced warrior (unless I was forced to use one of the others to solve a puzzle).

Days of the Blade is a pure hack-n-slash game that has enough issues to make you think twice about buying it. If you really like the first game and want to see what happens in the story next, then rent before you buy and see if you can get over the hurdles this game presents.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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