Monday, October 8, 2007

Bladestorm Preview

For everyone that wished Dynasty Warriors would merge with RTS elements, Bladestorm is the answer to your prayers. Koei decides to add a fresh twist to their hack-n-slash gameplay redundancy in this upcoming game, Bladestorm. The reviews about the demo has been a rollercoaster of ratings. Some sites automatically dismissed it because they hate Dynasty Warriors and they see too many similarities between the two. Others chose to be open-minded and encounter this experience with an intention to discover the possibility of a new kind of game. I did the latter.

My first encounter with Bladestorm was just one to check out the cool new features in a game type that really hasn't been done before. Bladestorm starts you out talking to a one-eyed barkeep about the conflict between France and England. During the dialogue you decide the look of your character from a list of customization options and then choose your name. The customization options are nice, while not giving you too much flexibility to make your character unrealistic to the time period. After a brief introduction into your main goals of the game from the barkeep, he gives you your first contract. I embarked on my first contract to find a brief tutorial during a skirmish between the two warring countries and got introduced to the features of combat.

To get into the technicalities, you begin by walking up to a squad of soldiers with swords and shields. You're given three skills that you can command the squad to perform synchronized with your movements. One move is a shield bash where your whole squad hits the enemies with their shields and stuns them for a bit. Another move is where you put your shields up to defend from attacks and arrows. The last move is a heavy swing with your swords that hits really hard, but makes your infantry a little more vulnerable to attacks.

The next squad you deal with is cavalry. You walk up to them and select them effortlessly, your character automatically assumes a position on horseback to join the cavalry. Cavalry are only effective if moving for a short period before they engage in battle. It makes sense, cavalry usually need to be charging into battle. Your first ability is a ride-by slashing. Just a simple sword slash as your riding to take down enemies. This ability is followed by another defensive protection ability. The last ability is your charge. Activate charge for a small period of time to mow down squads of infantry and archers.

The last squad is archers. You can fire at random enemies, protect yourself, or pinpoint an area for the archers to fire.

During my second playthrough, I noticed the barkeep changes some dialogue depending on which look you choose. Another incredible thing I only noticed after messing around with it more a second time were the variety of squad types you can command. With upgrades and improved armor and weapon and skills, Bladestorm boasts great character upgrades and squad upgrades to give you the edge on the battlefield. It differs from Dynasty Warriors in the sense that you cannot charge into thousands of enemies by yourself. It WILL lead to your demise. You need to base your combat on your squad and you need to command your squad well. If you're commanding infantry, do your best to dodge the cavalry units as to not get destroyed and etc. etc.

Bladestorm is a nice twist on the Dynasty Warriors epic war games. I'm looking forward to it.

Added note: I love when you activate Bladestorm... ah yes.

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