X-Blades

Written by Mark Mackay

March 1, 2009 | 08:51

Tags: #action #adventure #cry #devil #hack #may #review #slash

Companies: #topware-interactive

Thong Song

As with so many third person hack ‘n’ slash games, your chance of success largely depends on your ability to button mash. We recommend that in order to play this game you are competent in button mashing to at least degree level, though those with a masters in the art form will undoubtedly fair better overall, making your years of intensive study worthwhile.

The combat system in X-Blades is clearly influenced by Devil May Cry, but unlike Capcom’s excellent hack ‘n’ slash, the combat system in X-Blades arrived first class on the fail train.

I’ve spent a lot of time playing and analysing what makes it feel so sloppy but it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly as it’s a combination of several failures. While they may seem trivial independently of one another, they culminate to a particularly ugly sack of body parts when put together.

Firstly, the speed at which Ayumi runs, the speed at which she moves when attacking and the speed at which your enemies run are out of the balance with one another. When Ayumi attacks she comes to all but a stand still and, with – nothing to defend herself such as block of some description – the scores of demons you’re taking down start nom-nomming away at you.

X-Blades X-Blades PC - Combat
[Like in Dante in Devil May Cry, Ayumi can attack while decending from a jump, but unlike the Capcom title, the feature fails to add any depth to the combat system

Ayumi runs just marginally faster than her enemies so it’s difficult to clear a bit of space and round them up a bit. The result is a perpetual feeling of harassment and frustration; of just not being able to dispatch the ugly hordes in a satisfyingly efficient fashion. Instead, they scurry around your feet in all directions while you attempt to master the dodgy targeting system which flits around your foes depending on which way the camera is facing.

Like Dante in DMC, Ayumi can use her pistol blades in mid air which slows down her descent each time the attack button is mashed. The difference between how the two games implement the idea is that Dante can do so while jumping away from his enemies, retreating from an area of combat when thing get too hectic while still gunning down his foes.

X-Blades X-Blades PC - Combat
Probably the best thing about the combat in X-Blades are the animations and effects

When you press the attack in mid-air in X-Blades, Ayumi starts to fall more or less straight down back into the horde of enemies with no way of defending herself, which makes the whole thing something of a pointless exercise. This mechanic is one that made a massive contribution to the excellent combat in DMC but in X-Blades it’s just a weak imitation.

Ayumi can also double-jump, which in many games (such as playing Scout in Team Fortress 2) is a fun mechanic when used skillfully and adds a level of depth. In X-Blades however there's a large time delay between the first and second jumps and if you don’t press the jump button a second time quickly enough then it won’t happen at all. This leaves you feeling detached from Ayumi’s movement and bitter at finding another aspect that messes up a potentially depth-creating element to the combat.

On top of all this firing Ayumi’s pistol blades have very little effect on most of the monsters after around level four so you’re likely to find yourself not using them at all after that, effectively making the game more of a grind than ever.
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