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Yahtzee Croshaw, in his debut video review for The Escapist, skewers Heavenly Sword, the Resident Evil 5 trailer, and more.

TranscriptEdit

At the end of July, a demo of the PS3 exclusive hacky-slashy maim-a-thon Heavenly Sword, by developers Ninja Theory, was released on the PS3 online marketplace thing. The game is loftily described as not merely a game but a martial arts drama in the guise of a game, but enough quoting from the Wikipedia page, let's see what the demo has to show for itself.

The game—sorry, “martial arts drama”—is named after the weapon wielded by the main character, extremely Western-looking woman with extremely Japanese-sounding name du jour Nariko. Although if you look closely you'll notice that most of the time the Heavenly Sword is actually two swords, plural, perhaps because the developers felt they weren't being enough like God of War. Nariko certainly wears roughly the same amount of clothing as Kratos, in that she's one protruding nail away from a Boris Vallejo painting, but after that the developers seem to go out of their way to defy the comparison. Kratos possessed no hair and a Y chromosome, Nariko has no Y chromosome and hair growing out about eight feet long, which flows jerkily behind her like a rope made out of dried tagliatelle. The whole effect does not so much as scream "battle-hardened swordswoman" as it does the phrase, "Try and pull this one off, cosplayers."

Anyway, the Heavenly Swords demo uses the bold story-telling technique known as telling us bugger all and throws us right into the game in medias res. We see Nariko standing on a cliff, looking down upon some prime riverside property, soliloquizing some motivation concerning her father and revenge and how the place below her is full of evil dudes she intends to slit up. Of course, at this point we only have her word for that. For all we know it's actually a puppy obedience school with an unusually large security detail, but what the hell, okay.

Nariko then turns to some...thing sitting vacantly nearby wearing cat ears and makeup apparently applied by a KISS fan with Parkinson's disease, and relays to it her intention to slit up evil dudes. She then adds, with a totally straight face, "We may need you to play twing-twang." My first thought when I heard that was, "I am so going to quote that out of context,” but on reflection it doesn't make a whole lot of sense in context either. If the developers were hoping I’d consider buying the full game just to see what twing-twang is, then mission fucking accomplished, I suppose, but I'm going to be very disappointed if it isn't a cutesy euphemism for lesbian cunnilingus yeah I went there.

Moving on, our first taste of interactivity comes as we walk Nariko up to a support rope and press X when the game invites us to, at which point she starts running along it towards the compound, and the God of War comparisons return like a half brick to the skull when the game has us do the whole button-mashing reflex tester thing. I follow the games orders like a well trained West Highland terrier and end up on a narrow rocky spire that despite its height and remoteness is judged strategically important enough to have an entire regiment standing on it, and so I have to stop mocking the game for pointless nitpicks and move on to the make-or-break part of a fighting game, the combat.

Nariko is swiftly surrounded on all sides, by about ten million guards, so I immediately leap into action and mash random buttons on the controller as fast as I can. I didn't really have much of a strategy in mind, but it seemed that Nariko was interpreting my button-pressing as more of a helpful suggestion then an order anyway. She jumps around with her underdressed under-nourished form, spinning all over the place like a bunch of coat hangers in a dryer, but the attacks feel laborious and it seems to take a lot of blows to bring down each individual enemy. Especially when the guys with big hats show up who block nearly every move. Once or twice the game took control to show Nariko doing a quick fatality move on some poor twits, but the moments when she did this didn't seem to have any particular connection to the buttons I was mashing at the time. At this point the only drama in this “martial arts drama” was whether or not I was going to be able to finish off the crowd before my thumbs fell off.

Eventually I killed everyone on the big tall spire, and since Nariko wasn't quite finished expressing her death wish, she then cut the support ropes that held up the big stone erection and rode it down to the ground, where it collapsed upon a bunch of soldiers who were doing manly things like arm wrestling and grunting, and if you're seeing a sort of Freudian motif going on here, then rest assured you're not the only one. Another armed horde falls upon Nariko and another less precarious battle takes place. And as soon as it's over the demo ends. That's all there is.

It's difficult to tell with a demo this short, but somehow I don't feel that Heavenly Swords is going to light the world on fire or be the kind of exclusive title the PS3 needs right now. It's difficult to have faith in a developer that feels the optimum amount of gameplay time for a demo is barely enough to boil an egg. It's so short that I'm left with nothing else to say about it.

So let's talk about the Resident Evil 5 trailer instead. The video depicts a white as the driven snow main character from a previous Resident Evil game, in this case Chris Redfield who has apparently been making an income on the side smuggling cantaloupe melons in his upper arms, entering an obviously foreign and tangibly dirty peasant village, and getting attacked by a scythe-and pitchfork-wielding mob of bewitched locals, and if this sounds familiar to you then you've probably played Resident Evil 4. Which also began with a white as the driven snow main character from a previous Resident Evil game entering an obviously foreign and tangibly dirty etc etc.

I wasn't really expecting them to deviate too much a format that has proved wildly successful, but Jesus Christ guys, you could at least try to mix it up. Judging by the gameplay shown in the trailer, that too hasn't changed much, and they’re still maintaining the fine Resident Evil tradition of dialogue written by a twelve year old ADD sufferer locked in a room with a pile of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic books. But I've danced around the major issue long enough, so let's talk about the hot spicy racism!

Capcom have rather shot themselves in the foot by having the peasants this time around being African, thus prompting the inevitable demented honking from the politically correct. In an admittedly weak defense of Capcom, Resident Evil 4 wasn't any less racist really, what with all the Spaniard murdering and characters unironically using the expression, "Ay yai yai." But poverty-stricken Africans are a somewhat different kettle of fish to greasy mainland Europeans. Still, the games are, after all, made by the Japanese, and everyone knows what a bunch of xenophobic dicks they are.

Part of me feels that from an artistic stand point, there may be some merit in RE5, because the point of a horror game is to be unnerving, and forcing a player to do something they find distasteful as well as frightening is a rather ground-breaking method of doing that. But then again, this is Resident Evil, the series that brought us squeaky voiced midget Napoleon, and if there's anything sophisticated in an idea of theirs, it's probably a total accident. There tends to be a knee-jerk reaction to preceive racism in these days, regardless of intent or irony, and I don't think we need to start worrying about RE5 until they break out the fried chicken.

AddendaEdit

Written by a bottle of cough syrup and Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw

"Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum

"Turning Japanese" by The Vapors

Also if you know the identity of the small baby depicted in this video being threatened with gun violence please let him know that it was completely intentional and we think he’s a jerk

Tell me the Japanese aren’t xenophobic dicks and that I deserve to die


ScreenshotsEdit

Heavenly Sword 1

Ninja Theory

Heavenly Sword 2

"We may need you to play twing-twang"

Heavenly Sword 3

Break out the fried chicken

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata

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