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Jan 18, 2013

Blades of Time Review

I really wanted to like Blades of Time...really...It looked on the outside like a weird combination of Tomb Raider and Prince of Persia with a dash of God of War thrown in, but unfortunately this sequel to 2009's "X-Blades" has a few too many obstacles to allow it to rise above mediocrity. Ayumi is the scantily clad eye-candy heroine of Blades of Time, a fantasy action, hack `n slash adventure. There is a completely inane storyline about Ayumi arriving on a mysterious island called Dragonland, rich in treasure but naturally fraught with peril.
No previous adventurer has ever returned from Dragonland...naturally. Of course it's never quite that simple and Ayumi finds herself caught up in a battle between factions who are fighting for control of the land.

Despite some large environments to explore Blades of Time is fairly linear which honestly I don't have a problem with. The next areas won't open until you've met your objective in the current area. A quick press of the d-pad will bring up a compass to point you in the direction of your next objective so you need not ever worry about getting lost or knowing where to go next. The compass will also provide hints to the locations of treasure chests where you can find upgraded weapons and firearms or various other battle perks.

A standard skill tree is provided which allows you to expend your earned experience points to buy a wide variety of power-ups including magical attacks. These include an almost overwhelming set of combo attacks. Earning a new combo transports you to an arena to practice your new combo which isn't very realistic but is helpful. The problem is, and you've likely heard me say this over and over again, is that there are so many combos that its simply not easy to remember them all and even if you do, many don't have any greater effect on the battlefield than your standard attacks so likely you'll find a few attacks that you like and stick with those.

Combat is just ok. The schemes are fine but there isn't the gritty feel that you get with so many other similar games and the effects of combat are also boring and mundane. Between battles the game features numerous platforming and puzzle solving sections. The platforming sections are made needlessly difficult and frustrating due to a lousy camera view. This often leads to you falling to your death. Fortunately checkpoints are quite frequent, but that doesn't make it any less annoying and if there's anything I hate in a game its frustration and annoyance being used as a substitute for challenging level design.

Blades of Time's key feature is the ability to allow Ayumi to rewind time. Now this isn't like Prince of Persia Sands of Time where you could rewind to recover from falling to your doom, but rather it's a battle aid. You can run up, attack a foe several times with your sword, and then hit the rewind button. This creates a clone of Ayumi who will then mimic the moves you just this case you now have the Ayumi clone attacking the enemy along with the true Ayumi. The one caveat is that if you rewind time it not only affects Ayumi but the enemy as well. This if you're fighting a boss, his health meter will go back to what it was when you rewound time. So in a sense you're giving a boost to the enemy as well. Kind of stupid if you ask me...and it makes for more careful use of the power. Add to that the fact that health is always in short supply and boss battles become a chore.

It's clear that developers Gaijin Entertainment spent most of the design budget on Ayumi. She looks good and has a ton of animations. But none of the character models look nearly as good. Voice acting is decent...enthusiastic although Ayumi's voice doesn't sound like you might think it should. While Blades of Time has some fun elements it's bogged down with too many frustrating platforming sections, irksome boss battles, weak character designs and a muddled story, and this game is strictly a renter if nothing else is available.    
Verdict: 40/100

Genre Action
Style Third-Person 3D Action
Themes Time Travel, Melee Weaponry, Female Protagonist
Release Date April 18, 2012
Developer Gaijin Entertainment
Publisher Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. (KDEI)


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