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X-Blades - EXCLUSIVE hands-on

Sex appeal is a common ingredient in videogames, but X-Blades may represent a new level in blatant eyeball-grabbing. The anime-tastic heroine, Ayumi, wears a shockingly small amount of clothing, even by gaming standards. Luckily, while she may have forgotten to bring a pair of pants on her evil demon-fighting, treasure-hunting hack 'n slash adventure, she did remember two rather badass swords... that just happen to also serve as a pair of badass guns.

The first thing anyone will notice about X-Blades, though, is Ayumi and her scantily clad backside. We're not dirty old men (or women), but when the camera is purposely situated directly below her tiny thong, it's clear the developers want you to notice. The focus is undeniable.

There is a game behind the behind, however, one that mixes nonstop combat, platforming and large doses of flashy, screen-filling magic. We spent most of our hands-on time cutting down a variety of demonic creatures, from some sort of evil miniature dinosaurs to a hulking werewolf boss. Ayumi moves strikingly fast through the ruin settings (even a little floaty, though the game is only 60% done at this point). She mainly attacks with her gun blades, which can slash the crap out of brutes, but also shoot them from afar should you want to hold your distance. Overall, the fighting felt a tad basic, but still managed to provide us with a satisfying rush.

During the course of the adventure, which follows Ayumi on her quest to retrieve her stolen soul, you'll also discover magical powers that can raze hordes of enemies in a single blast. We used an earthquake spell to great effect on the werewolf and a fireball on an ice monster that couldn't be defeated any other way. The spells don't come for free, but are instead purchased by using soul points earned from the monsters you slaughtered. They also can't be used at all times, only when your Rage meter is filled. How do you fill the Rage meter? Apparently, by killing fools - we suppose the red bar represents anger. Finally, as the game progresses, you can choose between dark and light incantations, which will affect which ending of the game you see.

X-Blades promises upgrades to your swords and spells, but the souls you collect can also buy you health or more Rage should you be down and out. We also witnessed evidence of some cool combos, helpful side characters and diverse locales. Alas, the one thing you won't see in the final product is an alternate costume for Ayumi, so you may be stuck staring at her rather bare posterior for the entire experience. Oh well...

Jun 12, 2008

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