You may, or may not, have heard about and seen screenshots of a very vivid action game called X-Blades. Developed by TopWare Interactive, a studio you've never heard of unless you're a die-hard PC gamer, X-Blades looks to bring some extremely exciting action gameplay that should remind gamers of Heavenly Sword and God of War. While, I can certainly do with a name far less generic than X-Blades, I still have high hopes for the title, despite TopWare's ho-hum track record.
X-Blades follows the story of Ayumi, an adventurer who is out on the quest for invaluable stones, after discovering a map that may potentially lead her to them. Ayumi struggles with forces from inside of her, as they threaten to be unleashed, and so she believes that these stones are the secret to ridding her of the curse that lies within her body. The story will be presented in an epic fashion, and will unravel with in-game cutscenes, as you'd expect. TopWare also boasts that stylistic visual touches, much like bullet-time, will be found in the game's presentation.
The action will consist of hack-and-slash gameplay, with an emphasis on RPG elements. As Ayumi, you'll have the ability to use a variety of different weapons, in addition to being able to cast spells, and employ strategic tactics. For starters, your weapon is actually a gun-blade, so you can actually use it to fire during long-range combat, or slash away mercilessly during close-range combat. Magic spells will include healing, fireballs, lightning, ice attacks, earthquakes, and much more. In total, X-Blades will boast 20 different types of magic, ranging across a variety of classes.
More RPG elements found in the game include the accumulation of experience points. You can use these experience points and convert them to skills of your choice, such as combat techniques, magic, weapon enhancement, and even teleportation. The more enemies you fight, the more experience you'll learn. Likewise, because you are so heavily armed, enemies will often times come at you in hordes, as opposed to a few trickles here and there. To aid you in earning as much experience as you'd like, monster generators are scattered through the game's environments, and they will continuously spawn enemies for you to mangle. You can always just keep going past them, but building your character's powers to higher limits is always a lot more fun. In total, 30 different classes of enemies will engage you throughout the game, as well as epic bosses that are truly intimidating in design.
An estimate of about 40 different levels will be found in X-Blades, including both indoor and outdoor environments. Each level will feature a variety of hidden power-ups and treasures, which gives the player incentive to explore the enormous locales. There'll be two separate endings, and triggering one or the other all depends on your actions throughout the entire adventure. While this fact sheet is vaguely written, we believe if your actions were noble, you'll get one ending; if your actions were primarily evil, you'll get another one. As far as getting through the game goes, gamers will be offered difficulties that range from a beginner to a pro.
Visually, there's no doubt that X-Blades looks stunning. The environments, in particular, look downright beautiful, with gorgeous lighting that fills up the entire image, and a color palette so vivid that it oozes eye-candy. The screenshots also indicate superb texture detail all around Ayumi, and the towering look of the environments make it very hard to have to keep waiting until we get our hands on it, hopefully at this year's E3. The towering look of the stages also indicates superb level design, but that's a judgment we'll have to reserve until we actually see the game in motion. Lastly, because X-Blades looks like a very quick action game, our primary concern is a solid frame-rate with no screen tearing issues.
X-Blades is scheduled for a late 2008 release, so keep your eyes peeled on this one, as it may end up a sleeper-hit.
4/30/2008 Arnold Katayev