In this X-Play Review, Adam takes a look at the multiplatform action game 'X-Blades'. Does this Russian export successfully blend 'Devil May Cry' and 'Tomb Raider'? Find out in this review.
- The box is sturdy.
- There is no fun to be found in this game.
Sometime in the distant future, an advanced, extraterrestrial culture will visit our plant. They will pick through the artifacts and trinkets of our long dead civilization in the hopes of better understanding just what kind of people we were. Let us hope they never, ever find a copy of X-Blades. I would hate anyone, alien or otherwise, to think that this is the culmination of video games as an artistic medium.
Gamers May Cry
X-Blades is an arena brawler similar to games like Devil May Cry. The paper thin story tells the tale of Ayumi, a treasure hunter who happens upon map revealing the location of some kind of artifact. There’s also a whole bunch of nonsense concerning two divine beings called “The Light” and “The Dark.” It’s doesn’t really matter, though, as I’m sure even the developers would agree that the whole thing is just a lame excuse to get the player involved in as much combat as possible.
Unfortunately, nearly every part of the actual game is impossible to stomach. The combat mechanic tries to be like Devil May Cry. Ayumi wields dual pistol blades which allow her to slash and shoot as she pleases. She can run and jump about, avoiding enemy attacks while dealing death to hundreds of bad guys.
At first, this doesn’t appear to be a problem, but by the third or forth area of the game (about 15-20 minutes in) it hits you. The number of bad guys that get thrown at you don’t offer a challenge, it’s just padding because otherwise you’d blow through the game way too fast. So you hack hack hack away at some predetermined number of enemies until you get the “Level Cleared” message and you move on to the next room.
Every enemy you kill nets you souls which you can then used to buy powerful spells and upgrades. This showcases the “strategic” part of the combat in X-Blades as some of the monsters can only take damage from certain elemental magics. Upon discovering their weakness (which is conveniently displayed in the game’s “Bestiary” section of the pause screen), you lay into your adversaries, swapping powers, and spells at will to take care of whatever combo of villains you have locked in the area with you.
Death by Boredom
And that’s about it. There are some traps and puzzles you’ll encounter from time to time. Story bits will kick it. New powers will become unlocked for purchase. But there’s just no getting around the fact that the combat starts out tedious and never improves. There was one room where I died right near the end of an encounter not because it was difficult. I had grown so bored I forgot to look at my health bar and neglected to use my healing abilities. About the only things that offer a challenge in the game are the camera, which appears to try very hard to make sure it’s not pointed at what you’re attacking, and the lock-on mechanism which tries very hard to avoid locking on to what you want to shoot.
I usually don’t spend time remarking on the visuals, but it’s hard not to notice all of the bloom, flare, and special effects being used in the game. It’s as if the developers decided that if applying one filter or effect looks good, then applying them all at once will make the game look even better. Without it, X-Blades might have come across as a pleasant, if unremarkable looking title. Instead of being satisfied with that, they tarted the visuals up to look like some cheap whore.
What’s wrong with the Thong
Which brings me to Ayumi. Much has already been said about the butt cheeks on the box art found in the some territories. We in North America have been spared, but within the game you’ll still be subjected to some pathetic adolescent male fantasy in little more than a g-string and a sneer. And she’s supposed to be a treasure hunter? Seriously? At least in a game like Rumble Roses all that cheesecake had a context.
Often we find titles that have several flaws, but for whatever reason, taken as a whole the game becomes much more than the sum of its parts. X-Blades is the opposite. All of the different elements appear harmless on their own. But mixed together they produce some kind of noxious gas that immediately attacks and kills all the fun centers in the brain. We can only recommend this to people who are interested in quitting videogames completely.
Article Written By: Greg Bemis