Genji: Days of the Blade - hands-on

It's no secret that the upcoming samurai epic Genji: Days of the Blade (aka Genji 2) has a tough road ahead of it. Its awkward debut at Sony's pre-E3 press conference has become the stuff of Internet legend, thanks to the phrase "actual historical battles" being followed almost immediately by "giant enemy crab." And while it's certainly beautiful, its gameplay doesn't seem all that removed from the PS2 Genji: Dawn of the Samurai.

Granted, there's a lot of it we haven't yet seen. We haven't, for instance, played through the Dynasty Warriors-style battles that were briefly shown at E3, which will feature up to 100 characters onscreen at once. We haven't fought on horseback, which we're told will be in the final version, and we haven't seen either of the two new characters - one of whom is the young princess from the first game, Lady Shizuka, who fights with chained-together blades. And we haven't seen the game's version of the Battle of Dan-no-ura, the massive, historic naval battle that ended with a mass suicide and led to 700 years of military rule.

And we didn't see any of that when we played the game during a recent press event, so it again delivered exactly what we expected: plenty of Onimusha-style exploration and button-mashing sword action in pre-feudal Japan (and giant enemy crabs, yes).The last time we played Days of the Blade, we stormed a fiery castle infested with hordes of demon samurai. This time, we tackled a level that was the exact opposite: a cool-looking mountain waterfall and stream that we had to fight through from top to bottom.