By Kieron Gillen on April 10th, 2009 at 12:41 pm.
RPS is all about fighting underdog’s corner. Walker’s adventure games. Alec’s board games. Jim’s beard. As such, when we saw a PC demo of the much-maligned console action/adventure X-Blades had been released, I had to try it out so I could properly champion it if people’s cruel words were really misunderstanding the true depths of a woman in a thong running around with swords and yelping. Because they could be. I mean, people missed the point of the divine God Hand. Maybe this is is really a total treasure? I play it to make sure…
Of course, no, it’s rubbish.
It’s basically a fighting-centric Tomb Raider, with Lara Croft injected with all the distilled likeability of Paris Hilton. And more of that later.
What’s likeable about it? I like its graphic style in the cut-scenes, using a cel-shaded look like the recent Prince of Persia reboot which adds a certain elegance. Or, at least, as elegant as the bethonged character can look. I like how you collect souls and exchange them for special abilities, some of which look pretty fancy, even in the demo. Here’s one, looking fancy.
Bar that… Christ, its violence is repetitive even within the demo. If you can’t hold interest for three fights, you’re screwed for a game. But really, the fatal flaw is the lead, who in this brief meeting manages to be as dislikeable a character as I can remember. She’s so genuinely obnoxious, you wonder whether they’re going for some grand piece of satire where we’re meant to be laughing at the lead… except if it is, they don’t go far enough. She’s a treasure-hunter who’s the best she is at what she does – except what she does does clearly doesn’t involve working out how to wear trousers.
(I appear to be hung up on Ayumi’s arse. I may be, but not nearly as much as the developers clearly were.)
The demo climax? The lead find an artifact. Is warned away by a big monster – not attacked, bless him, the kind caring fool who didn’t realise what a total cow he was dealing with, but merely warned. If she takes it, the world is in peril. The lead shrugs – it was a long walk to get here, and she’s not going home without it. She touches it, has enormous force enter her body, and now the boss reluctantly has to kill her to prevent the aforementioned world-threatening. Lead doesn’t give a toss, and proceeds to get into a big fight mocking him all the while for keeping her away from her trinket.
Wot a cow!
Here’s an idea for the developer. If you make a sequel, make it about hunting down and killing her. You’ll sell a million. Hell: you’d sell a million to me alone.