X-Blades – PC Review
No matter if you have played X-Blades or you never plan to do so, one thing is certain: you have heard about Ayumi, the game’s heroine, a beautiful blond chick that probably has a very poor opinion on clothing since she doesn’t really wear too much. Basically, that’s the biggest point of attraction in SouthPeak’s game and, as unethical as it might sound, it was the one and only thing that made me purchase this title.
I knew it was a hack and slash title (and I’m not at all a button mashing fan), I knew I will find it disgusting in the end, but there’s something about barely clothed women and perfect butts which make you take out the wallet and pay. Unfortunately, that’s about the only reason most of us will purchase the product.
Because, as a game, X-Blades doesn’t deliver anything new: the story is cliché and you’ll soon turn it into your lowest priority, the weapons are limited, the super moves are not impressive, the hordes of enemies are not varied and the boss battles will make your fingers hurt in pain. On the other hand, I doubt any button mashing game fan wants more from its product than a reason to hack thousands of enemies after a stressful day at work, right?
And that’s exactly what you will do. The story is vague and doesn’t have too much depth: you, as the sexy Ayumi, are an artifact hunter (which makes her lack of clothes even more strange – where on earth does she deposit the artifacts?) who happens to stumble upon a magical orb which casts a dark curse onto her and sends her into some ancient ruins to destroy tons of monsters. And I’m sure the story is nothing but an excuse to throw us into the action and let us hack and slash and hack and slash until our brain gets dumb.
Because that’s all you will do in X-Blades: press the buttons madly, in order to clear a specific amount of enemies (usually a huge one) which will allow you to go to the next level where – surprise! – even more evil creatures await. Although the monsters you’ll encounter along the way are not too varied, you won’t get bored too quick of the same amount of enemies. Also, just for the sake of some diversity, some of them are immune to your blades, while other are immune to your pistols – while bosses are usually immune to both and can only get injured by magic.
And that’s about it. You’ve got the enemies, you’ve got the means to hurt them (as I said – blades, guns or magic) and a usually small room in which they keep coming. There is also a small treasure hunting element sneaked in the gameplay – collecting pieces of artifacts which will grant you extra power, but don’t expect to do too much exploring in order to find them, since they’re not hidden too well in the first place and the levels, as I said, are not huge.
Controls pay a very important role in such games and fortunately Ayumi can be easily handled – which, I must admit, is quite a surprise since I never liked how console games get ported on PCs. In other words, you don’t have too many buttons to press to do your job (left click is for swords attack, right click is for shooting your guns and hotkeys can be assigned to different magic attacks). Usually posting yourself into the middle of the fight and start pressing the buttons is the right strategy, but you can also try to evade the opponents’ hits in order to get bonuses to the souls collected. These souls, who are awarded to Ayumi when a monster is destroyed, can be used to purchase special magic attacks or replenish health, so it’s always a good idea to have as many as possible.
But even with its well done control scheme and entertaining fighting sequences, X-Blades fails to impress. That’s caused especially by the lack of a real story (after the first three or four cutscenes I simply couldn’t bear it anymore and simply skipped them), some more diverse fighting areas and enemies and, of course, more diverse attacks. Indeed, you have the magic which offers quite some option to choose from, but I would’ve liked the sword fighting to allow for some combinations, some bling bling, something extra…
The visuals in X-Blades don’t manage to rise to today’s standards and, as strange as it might sound, I found the actual gameplay graphics to be much better than what’s used in the cutscenes – which usually is exactly the other way around in other video games. But I can’t complain, now, can I? The sound is also mediocre, with some pretty poor voice acting (which is usually resumed to moaning and making funny noises) and a score which, even though goes well with the action, is not at all special.
SouthPeak gambled on a barely clothed character, but that was everything: they did not try to add some depth to Ayumi, they had no intention to actually make her look good (really, she’s not at all as beautiful as I expected her to be) and didn’t pay too much attention to the story either. However, these aspects are saved by the solid gameplay and the easy control scheme which makes your button mashing experience quite pleasant: but it’s still nothing but pressing a button until your finger hurts. So I doubt that those who are not fans of the genre will consider X-Blades a must-buy game and even the hack and slash fans might not be too impressed. However, we have a decent game here which might prove entertaining if there’s nothing to be played, or if you want some non-stop action to get your stress levels down a bit.
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