SouthPeak Interactive, Gaijin Entertainment
Available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC
Southpeak’s newest title, X-Blades has been the talk of the web since its pants-free heroine made her photo debut. The pictures of the plucky little tomb raider had everyone wondering if X-Blades was going to be more than just a pretty face in ass-less chaps or something with actual descent game play and a good storyline. Now that the game is actual on the market, I guess it’s time to finally answer that question.
The story begins when Ayumi, our g-string wearing heroine discovers a map leading to an ancient artifact that contains the power of two powerful Gods, one light and one dark. Ayumi becomes cursed by these Gods once she touches the artefact and must venture to find a way to stop the powers of the Gods from awakening inside her.
Ayumi has a choice of two weapons: her blades which also double as guns. She can also unlock magic spells to use like fire or ice. As Ayumi takes out enemies in each area, she gains souls which can be transferred into your skills to unlock stuff like magic spells or special attacks. Each area has Ayumi clearing a stage of hundreds of enemies and collecting items like power stones. Once she clears the required amount of enemies or destroys the boss enemy, then the door to the next level will unlock.
From the menu, you can also purchase health refills as the game world does not offer any health potions that can used on screen. Your character’s health does return on its own but it does so slowly and it never really offsets the damage your character suffers unless you can find a good spot to hide.
The game makes use of a targeting system but considering how many enemies can be on screen at once, this system is incredible flawed. Tracking enemies as they dart back and forth through your field of view can be both challenging and frustrating at the same time. Ground units are much easier to track than flying units.
While the levels are often small in size the battles can last for a long time. One particular boss battle I fought for over fifteen minutes before I discovered a more efficient way of achieving my goal. The majority of your time will be spent in furious battle against seemingly endless waves of enemies which will get very repetitive and annoying unless you like that sort of thing. *cough* Dynasty Warriors *cough*
Failure in X-Blades results in your character starting back at the beginning of the level with all enemies resetting. Fortunately you get to keep all the souls and other goodies you already picked up. Death doesn’t occur often to be a real nuisance, but untimely deaths into a long fight forcing you to start all over can certainly make ones blood boil. It would certainly help if levels had save points or the ability to quick save your progress but that would certainly dull some of the challenge.
Graphically the game looks great and is enhanced through optional goodies like bump mapping and HDR lighting. Unfortunately the small level sizes rarely allow X-Blades to truly show its capabilities. The game also makes use of anime style cut scenes that are shown every few levels to explain and further the games storyline. It is during these intermissions that the developers advertising of an attractive heroine really comes to light. The camera pans around and behind Ayumi a healthy amount of times to give gamers a nice view of her significant lack of clothing. In fact if Ayumi had any less clothing the game would stand on very different store shelves such as those that cover up their windows and use many neon signs.
Though the game’s style succeeds in creating what looks like an attractive product, truthfully what you really get is just a hollow hack and slash with a sexy lead. X-Blades and its scantily clad heroine may provide an alternative to the much exhausted Tomb Raider franchise, but I personally would rather stick to staring at Lara Croft’s backside through another phoned-in sequel. At least I can look at her throughout the game without blushing.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pass on it!