Rear Review: X-Blades
by Mitchell Dyer
Rear Review is here to save you from the PR pimpage that plagues the back of game boxes by cutting through the crap and getting straight to the point. So I’m going to skewer (or praise) the BS box text that tells you about a game’s “compelling and innovative Compellinovation Tech Combat Gameplay.” Or whatever.
On the chopping block today is the SouthPeak-published, Gaijin-developed X-Blades, a game starring some cartoon chick who’s as violent as she is scantily clad. Which is to say: oh my, very.
How do the back-of-the-box claims hold up to the truth my thoughts?
HER LOOKS… CAN KILL
Journey through ancient temples and ruins with Ayumi, an alluring treasure hunter determined to unlock the secrets of a powerful orb and acquire untold riches. However, every treasure has its price – Ayumi has been struck upon finding her greatly desired artifact. Can you help Ayumi free herself from the curse? In this thrilling anime-style action-fest, you will encounter fierce battles as you help Ayumi confront her ultimate fate – whatever it may be.
Despite what the multi-colored text emblazoned at the top of the game’s box-back tells you, it’s actually the dual-swords and mass bullets that do the killing, not Ayumi’s limited attire and disgustingly skinny stomach.
Use Ayumi’s pistol-blades to engage in melee or ranged combat instantly
Oh boy. Forget the red text. This is delicious.
If you somehow missed out on, or just don’t care for Final Fantasy series, “gun-blade” means relatively little to you. Any ignorant passerby could understandably assume that a “pistol-blade” is a gun with a scout-knife bayonet; that it’s a sword that shoots bullets; jeez, it could be a pistol with a slingshot that launches Gillette razors. Clarity is key when you’re trying to hook me with how I’ll be inflicting violence. X-Blades opts for lingo that will confuse Wal Mart shoppers. At least they’ll know that the battles will prominently feature everyone’s favorite combat types, long-range and close-up.
It’s good to know that you’ll be fighting it instantly, too. As opposed to, you know, tomorrow.
Over 20 different unlockable spell abilities
A variety of abilities is always enticing, and 20 is a huge number within the context of supernatural superpowers. As I try to think of 20 different spells, I can think fireballs, HP replenishing, and, uh, fireballs. Unlocking stuff is always fun, too, so slapping the promise of progression on top of an impressive number of attacks is a smart move.
The catch with X-Blades is that its description of 20 spells is a tad deceptive. What it fails to tell you is that 20 attacks are split between 10-apiece light and dark variants. Regardless, 10 is more than I can think of off the top of my head.
Non-stop hack-and-slash action in beautifully detailed environments
To X-Blades‘ credit, yeah, there are some sexy settings. Ancient cobblestone walls are cracked and full of protruding weeds, and some intense lighting gives a busted stone statue a bit of life. The problem here is that, while the stages look good, they’re all incredibly similar. You’ll grow immediately tired of looking at the same stupid stone statue standing in front of identically-patterned cobblestone walls.
You’d think that the saving grace would be the “non-stop hack-and-slash action,” but that honesty is one of the game’s worst features. Mashing the same stupid attack button for eight hours straight is hardly entertaining in my books. So while the box is telling the truth here, it’s secretly promoting its biggest issues. Since the text is the only thing you can access through the devilish shrink-wrap, you’ll only find this out once it’s far too late.
Gripping fantasy story with two possible endings
The gripping story in question goes as follows: sassy skank finds a shiny orb that promptly slaps her with a gnarly curse that lets Ayumi unlock sweet-ass new spells. Oh no. The multiple endings depend on which path you take, light or dark, and both are equally dissatisfying. The 30-second cinematic that makes up the finale explains next to nothing about the entirety of the falsely advertised grip-factor.
Roll credits. Eject Disc. Open trash can.
The “gripping fantasy story” holds your attention with the squeezing power of a snoozing baby and the “non-stop action” is non-stop boring. Read and be confused, then move on.