What it all equates to is a hack-and-slash game with a good deal of combat variety, as you can purchase new spells at will and bind them to any of the four selected buttons on the controller. Ayumi's adventure takes her through several rooms, passages and arenas of a castle-like fantasy setting, with each simple mission typically centered on the destruction of numerous waves of enemies or monster-spawning orbs, along with frequent boss fights.
The fast-paced and relatively uncomplicated combat generally satisfies (though never really impresses), but a rigid adherence to learning patterns or using only one type of magic attack to defeat later bosses and enemy types derails the otherwise successful kitchen sink approach. In such cases, selected magic spells become a crutch and everything else feels secondary, which seems to defeat the whole purpose of giving you so many options in the first place.
We wrapped X-Blades up in less than 10 hours (despite pre-release promises of 20 hours of play), but action junkies can take solace in the fact that very little of that is spent on narrative and character development. By the end of the game, all we really knew (or cared to remember) about the anime-stylized heroine is that she is self-centered and wears nearly nothing, half of which we'd already discerned from the box art. [There are unlockable costumes as well. -Ed.] That X-Blades remains a decent title despite the lack of compelling missions and likeable characters is something of an accomplishment in itself, though not one we'd recommend advertising from the rooftops.
Feb 13, 2009