Gamescom 2011: Blades of Time Preview - Clone Wars
Written Tuesday, August 30, 2011 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
No doubt many of you remember more about the heroine of X-Blades than the game itself, which is no surprise considering she spent the entire game running around in a thong and chapless pants. However, despite the provocative wardrobe, Ayumi’s adventures were less than stellar instead devolving into a mindless hack and slash game with plenty of repetition and little in the way of innovation. So it was a bit surprising to see a sequel of sorts in the works, with Ayumi returning to the fray only this time looking a little more mature and packing a fresh set of funky skills.
Anton Yudintsev, the president of developer Gaijin Entertainment, was on hand to talk about the game and demonstrate some of the new features. Once again the focus is firmly on hack and slash combat, with a number of combos available from the get-go and then a range up upgradeable attacks with which to diversify your arsenal. So far, so generic but a unique twist may well have the deciding say on the action.
You see, this time around Ayumi can create clones of herself that will exactly mimic her actions. Imagine you were surrounded by five enemies and you kill one of them, then you create a time clone that exactly replicates the moves you performed and kills that self same enemy. That would then free you up to kill someone else, at which point you could create another clone and so on. So that roomful of enemies can end up being killed simultaneously by multiple clones of your character should you so choose. Likewise one tough foe can be bombarded by multiple clones in a bid to shatter his armour and open them up for a finishing blow. It is an interesting mechanic and one that is key to solving many of the games puzzles and defeating certain enemies.
If a huge indestructible foe is blocking the only exit then you can attack him and lure him out of position, then rewind time and create a clone that follows the exact route you took. Then while said foe follows your clone, the real Ayumi can sneak around behind him and duck out of the room. As long as Ayumi doesn’t attack the enemy and distract him from the clone, then you are golden and the same holds true for pretty much every foe in the game.
Obviously such a power could be potentially game-breaking so there is a limit on the amount of clones that can be churned out with effective powers. Theoretically you can create as many as you want but after the first five clones they will start to gradually weaken and fade, meaning that judicious use of your powers is more important than just spamming out foes for the sake of it. The clones can also be used to solve puzzles, with the obvious example of one clone holding down a button to move a rock that would shield the real Ayumi from a potentially lethal dose of the suns rays. We’d have just gone with some factor 50 sun cream, but this way works just as well.
Ayumi can also use a range of dash moves, to leap around the scenery and also quickly grapple foes from afar. Again this can be combined with clones to speedily clear out a room full of foes. On top of that she can fall back on some trusty gun and sword play when called upon. With a mix of combat, platforming and puzzles the single player offering is certainly looking to be more varied and demanding than our heroine's previous outing, and while it is sad to see the game's funky, cel shaded visuals being kicked to the curb, the new look is still pretty vivid and diverse.
There will also be a range of co-operative and competitive multiplayer options, so players can take their skills online and beat up on their friends. Obviously the time-based clones would be unwieldy in such an environment, so in this scenario players have to rely on their combat skills to win the day. Plus, you can have team-based games where players have to defend their own allies and base against an opponent and their A.I allies. Taking on a horde of monsters would be easy enough but having to deal with a human opponent in the mix should add a layer of challenge and keep things interesting.
It is hard to say whether this game is a massive leap forward from X-Blades or not as, based on what we've seen, the general combat and action seems fairly similar. The time-based clones are the real ace in the hole, and if they are well implemented could provide plenty of unique opportunities for clever puzzles and boss fights that actually tax your brain rather than just see you mindlessly hitting the same button. Hopefully then Blade of Time will be yet another engrossing game in what is becoming a rather lengthy line up of third-person action titles this year.
Expect Blades of Time to clone itself onto shelves come the winter 2011 silly season – just in case you didn’t already have enough to buy.