Monday, August 4, 2008

God Hand Review

The review for Clover's PS2 game "God Hand" is up. Whats my opinion of it? Well, it's good. Go check out the review for more details at the classic site here.

God Hand Review

UPDATE (3/22/10) VFH Classic is dead:

God Hand has the most varied opinion from critics and gamers that I have ever seen for a game. The scores range from the bottom to the top of the spectrum. I can understand why, the game is very different, even though it sticks to a familiar genre, the beat-em-up. God Hand really sticks out among Clover's games. The lacking art style and seemingly generic mechanics make it seem very odd when compared to Okami and Viewtiful Joe. So is God Hand really as big a flop as it seems?

Story: 7/10
As the “chosen one” with the god hand, you go around saving people. While traveling around you (Gene) and your female companion (Olivia) pass various towns in crappy situations, and the chick sends you off to deal with it. Thats the basic premise. It's not all that impressive, but the thing that really makes the story worthwhile is the humor. The game has an extremely odd sense of humor, that is very hit and miss. At the beginning Gene, the main character, for seemingly no logical reason says that his enemies are more sexy than Olivia.

Despite the occasional lame joke the game's story is pretty funny, and I laughed quite a few times. The plot may not be deep or meaningful, but it's fun and the game never takes itself seriously, which is pretty refreshing. Besides all that, this is possibly the only game in existence with an entire stage revolving around a poison chihuahua. Yeah, you heard me right.

Sound: 3/10
I'll be honest. 90% of the music in this game pretty much sucks. It's going for the cheesy feel, and it completely nails it, but it's just not something I want to have to during the entire game. The sound effects add a slight layer of ironic humor, but it's nothing but a small novelty. Pretty much to sum this up, the sound overall sucks. The voice acting is bad, the music is horrible, the sound effects are pretty average. The game just doesn't really have a lot to offer in this department. Besides the ending theme. That was pure win.

Gameplay: 9/10
The gameplay is the one thing this game does right. It does it amazingly right. First of all I have to say, stick with this game. The first hour will not impress you, it's once you get past the learning curve that you'll really be having fun. After you know what your attacks do and what combination works in what situation, the game becomes immensely involving and surprisingly fun.

You'll have various specials at your dispense, such as super powerful roulette techniques, or the ability to unleash the god hand for extra fast punches. To me, these get in the way of the combat. The pure fun of the combat system made me really want to take out enemies the good ol' fashion way. The specials are best used on bosses, or when you get stuck.

The right stick is used for evasion techniques instead of camera control (the camera is in a third person over the shoulder view), and I wouldn't have it any other way. The stick evasion controls give you the ability to doge any direction in a second, and thats one of the most important aspects of the game. To help you control Gene there is a radar, and the r1 button makes you do a 180 to face the opposite direction, this works very well and during my play through the camera never got me killed. If you die it's your own fault, you have to monitor your radar and keep track of where your enemies are.

All of this adds to the fun and depth of the gameplay. Once all these features come together it really draws you in and keeps you there. You'll have to pull off the correct combos at the right time, break defenses within a few hits or dodge the retaliation in the blink of an eye. You have to know where to stand and what to do, and you'll have to do it with confidence. It's this level of accomplishment that really makes you feel like you're doing something, and that feeling, the involvement, the skill involved, it really makes this a visceral experience. It's something that should be experienced.

Graphics: 5/10
After playing Okami, Veiwtiful Joe, after seeing what clover can do, the graphics seriously disappoint. The environments are just plain ugly. The fact that so much is destructible really adds a lot, especially when you drop kick somebody through a wall. Thats awesome. But the textures are muddy, the levels are pretty barren and open, which accommodates the gameplay well, but it looks like crap. The only decent looking thing in the game is the character models, which have some pretty nice details. You're always moving anyways, so the graphics are no big distraction.

Conclusion: 8
God Hand is a very unique game, I guarantee that no matter what you think, you haven't played anything like it. The originality is the one part that really shows that it was made by Clover to me, and it's tenfold just to make up for the lack of everything else. The gameplay is just so involving, this is the first game to really draw me in this much since Kingdom Hearts 2. Not to say this is better or more fun than all of the games that I've played between now and then, it's just very good at making you forget everything else, making you focus, drawing you into the experience. Those of you who stick with this game will love it, no doubt. But those of you who stop short of “getting” it will miss out on a great experience and a good time.


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