| paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Beat_em_up; loc=NA] |
|Unusually dark, stylish and violent game from Capcom in which your red-haired brooding albino youth slashes his way through seemingly unending hordes of giant insect-like armored demons. The "plot" and goth grunge style seem to have certain highbrow pretensions but fortunately the game doesn't forget to serve up big steaming heaps of demon-slaying aplenty.|
Let's dispense with the stylistic pretensions. Basically everything in the game looks and sounds incredibly cool in a dank, rune-covered, bloody, demonic way. Picture lots of black with whipping swirls of grey and red. This starts in the menus and carries through to the levels (linear vaults of rusted, slime-coated ancient rock), cutscenes (lots of black and white and obscure chanting overlaid with scrapes and dust as if seen on old film... just try to ignore the crippled dialogue and oddly cast voice acting) and characters/demons (lanky, armored, clad in flapping tatters of cloth, fast, beautifully animated), and culminates in the action itself.
Ah, the action. The "legions" of the title are groups of demons (or what have you) that your character can summon. You can control their general behavior (aggressive, passive) and direct them to perform major attacks, otherwise they'll just settle for attacking monsters in your path, which they do quite effectively. You, meanwhile, hack away with your single sword-swinging action button. Eldritch zapping effects, fire and lots of screeching accompany the sharp swordwork, and a truly impressive number of foes lumber and dash about the screen with no apparent slowdown.
Slagging through them with your energy-enshrouded blade is something worth experiencing, as your character's desperate swings carry him into the midst of the foes almost of their own accord, sending hissing, burning demons flying left and right. There's a very cool feeling of physics on your swordblade here (and I'm not talking about vibration, which I almost always turn off), as each foe may yield to or resist your progress depending on whether you hit him right or not. You really get the feeling of wading through these creatures with heavy steel. Boss battles, at least the ones I've seen so far, are quite ornate and challenging. Yes you've only got one attack button, the trick is to time its use correctly while being assaulted from all sides.
So what's not to like? Frankly, I don't know. Don't come to this expecting a gripping story, "exploration," complicated movement schemes or extensive cinematic-style storytelling, 'cause that isn't what this is about. On the other hand, if you're up for heaps of very intense weapon-based beat-em-up action with a dark twist, this is pretty much the best thing yet.
|Finally finished playing the heck out of this thing--Capcom certainly went the extra mile as after you complete the main game you can go back and play the levels over and over to max out your legions, or play through as the gun-wielding female character (she doesn't have legions or abilities to level up, so it isn't really that fun). Kept me going for a long long time, much longer than I thought it would. Gets much better the further in you go as you open up many more combat moves for your character, even aside from the legions--double jump, all kinds of funky power dashes, kicks, counterstrikes and other things that just make combat that much more fun. This game is smooth.|
What's not to like? I found a couple things. The English translation and voice-acting is pitiful--a real howler, actually, but with an unpleasant aftertaste. I should have switched to the Japanese voices earlier. Fortunately story is a very small part of this game.
A couple of the bosses fall in to the "big thrashing bio-organic pulsing thing with tentacles and arbitrary weakness" mold, I wasn't too keen on them. Most of the bosses, however, are pretty neat.
This game kept me button mashing for over 25 hours. I feel like I've had enough of it now, but it was a good time.
|Download added: malice.jpg (19723 bytes)|
"My little low-level Malice legion in action."
Another thing that takes some getting used to is that in most encounters the monsters will respawn after death--to clear the area you have to take out the silly-looking wobbly spawner thing that keeps reanimating them. This was annoying and confusing at first but eventually I got used to charging directly for the spawner whenever I spotted one. Of course, the baddies bash on you while you bash on the spawner, so make sure you bash faster! (Or use a legion to keep them off your back.)