Aug 28, 2007
Four years in the making at Sony%26rsquo;s Cambridge studios, Heavenly Sword is unashamedly the bi-product of Ninja Theory%26rsquo;s obsession/adoration for the chop-socky, swordplay-filled flicks of yesteryear. Part Shaw Brothers flick, part Red Sonja with a peppering of Wushu, the developer even went as far as hiring the same sound masters who provided the battle sound effects on Ang Lee%26rsquo;s Oscar-nabbing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to supply the noise of steel clashing with steel in one-to-one brawls and battlefield fisticuffs. Not a single sliver of creativity has been left unexplored here and it shows.
Ninja Theory has put a vast amount of time and work into scriptwriting and rendering the stunning cutscenes that play out with the emotional resonance of a big summer blockbuster. You won%26rsquo;t want to skip through these thanks to the work of Andy Serkis, he of Gollum and King Kong fame. Serkis worked on the dramatics with the game%26rsquo;s stellar cast - including John Rambo%26rsquo;s nemesis from Rambo II, Steven Berkoff - at WETA Digital%26rsquo;s swanky new motion-capture studio in New Zealand.
And frankly, Serkis is ultimately a massive part of why Heavenly Sword works so well as not only a game, but also as a hugely engaging adventure story about love, honour, family and steel. Serkis is King Bohan, a ruthless bastard of a leader who believes that he is some sort of messenger sent from the heavens above with one thing on his mind - capture the Heavenly Sword from Nariko and her clan guard.
Opening on Nariko%26rsquo;s death (which seems to be a gaming zeitgeist these days) you play through the flame-haired fighter%26rsquo;s last days before she%26rsquo;s killed by the titular sword in the midst of a gargantuan battle with Bohan%26rsquo;s army. You must then hack and slash through gorgeous countryside landscapes, vast castles, snow-covered towns and dusty arenas in a bid to keep the sword from Bohan%26rsquo;s possession and protect both your city and people at the same time. Essentially, Bohan must die, his armies must be destroyed and Nariko, we%26rsquo;re led to believe, is dead by the time the closing game credits start to roll. Of course, we%26rsquo;ve finished it and know what happens, but we%26rsquo;re not cold-hearted enough to spoil the game%26rsquo;s ending for our readers.