Bushido BladeCan you live without the most realistic fighting game ever made?
The Japanese tradition of Bushido, or the way of the warrior, goes back almost a thousand years, and was the guiding force in the life of a Samurai. It requires a strict adherence to a code of honor, a code that ends in either glory or ritualistic suicide.
Bushido Blade, a weapons fighter, is the latest game from Square, a game that goes beyond the confining boundaries of the typical fighter. It is extremely innovative, yet still not so ambitious as to have lost the point. It may seem very different at first, but it s still a fighter at heart.
To begin with, there are no health bars. A swift blow to the head or torso will determine the winner. This means matches can be over as quickly as they would be in real life. However, the lack of ring boundaries means you can run away into the woods if you like. It may be dishonorable, but it will prolong the match, which, by the way, can last as long as they need to as there s no time limit. The most fun, however, is to be had by immobilizing your opponent s limbs. A strike to the arm or leg will render it useless, causing them to fall to the ground, or, in the case of a sword-arm blow, become harmless. However, honor must be maintained if you intend to beat the game-- if you throw dirt in an opponent s face, or hit them when they re down, you won t be able to win.
In the one-player game, you control a fleeing member of the Kage, or Shadow, a modern Samurai group. Leaving the group is not allowed, so the character is hunted down by the remaining members. A major hint that this is no ordinary fighter comes in the form of the taunts, which aren t really taunts at all. The character is forced to fight its friends against its will, and when it wins, it is visibly saddened by its deed.
Control is very tight, assuming you ve chosen the correct weapon and stance. Each fighter has a preferred sword or other weapon, depending on their strength. There are three stances to take when fighting as well. The correct combination equals out to a lethal blend of speed and power -- learning these combinations is tantamount to success. With only six characters, these are relatively easy to learn. However, less characters also equals less replayablity, one of the few downsides in Bushido Blade.
Fighting takes place in and around an abandoned castle; you go at it in rivers, on the beach, and in a field of bamboo, among other locales. They are interactive as well: for example, bamboo falls when you swing your sword near it. Many of the environments are interconnected, so you can run from one to another.
Graphically, the game is a little rough when compared to a fighter like Soul Blade. However, when you consider all you can do in the game, the unpolished look of the polygons is acceptable.
Bushido Blade does have the occasional fault. Sometimes a strike won t connect where you think it should. Also, transparencies don t always function, so you end up with a leafy cherry blossom tree obscuring your view. These faults are minor, though, compared with the rest of the game.
Gamers weaned on traditional arcade fighters may find Bushido Blade s rhythm foreign. It is a wholly unique game that requires a little practice, and maybe a little patience, but is ultimately so much more rewarding than the average beat em up. I can t recommend Bushido Blade enough. Simply amazing.