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Information about Heavenly SwordHeavenly Sword is a video game developed by Ninja Theory exclusively for the PlayStation 3 console and published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. The game was released sep. 12, 2007 (6 years ago), in North America, sep. 14, 2007 (6 years ago), in the United Kingdom, sep. 19, 2007 (6 years ago), in Europe and sep. 20, 2007 (6 years ago), in Australia.
GameplayThe gameplay of Heavenly Sword resembles a martial arts title focused on melee combat while featuring opportunities for ranged attacks, comparable to modern hack and slash games such as Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox and Devil May Cry (6 walls) for the PS3 and God Of War (6 walls) for the PlayStation 2. The main character, Nariko, uses a weapon called the "Heavenly Sword" which changes into one of three forms depending on what attack stance the player uses as part of a unique fighting style. Speed Stance, the default, provides an even balance between damage and speed, where the sword takes the form of two separate blades. Range Stance allows fast, long-ranging, but weaker attacks, with the sword resembling two blades, chained together. Power Stance is the most powerful, but slowest style, where attacks are made with the Sword in the shape of one large, two-handed blade.
For exploration and certain battles, the game also makes use of "Quick Time Events" (QTE) similar to those found in titles such as Shenmue, Resident Evil 4, and God of War. During a QTE, a symbol for a certain button or for an action such as moving the analog stick to the right or left appears on screen and the player must match what is shown to successfully complete the scene.
In addition to Nariko, a secondary character, Kai, is controlled for some portions of the game. Many of Kai's stages take the form of sniping missions, using her crossbow to pick off enemies, in some cases to protect characters; whilst Kai cannot perform hand-to-hand combat, in stages that do call for her to explore the level she is able to hop over objects, as well as free herself from an enemy's grasp by temporarily stunning them.
Projectiles can be maneuvered to their targets using the motion-sensing capabilities of the SIXAXIS controller through a feature known as Aftertouch. Such projectiles include guiding Kai's arrows after she has launched them, and for Nariko, guiding a cannon or rocket launcher, or picking up and throwing objects.
ProphecyNariko's warrior clan believes in a prophecy of a warrior sent from the heavens with a godly blade (called the Heavenly Sword), to defend them from the ultimate evil. When the warrior was finished with his task he left the blade behind on earth. Many men were immediately drunken with the desire to wield its power and murdered over its ownership. It was then that Nariko's clan ended the violence and took on the dangerous undertaking of protecting the sword from such corruption.
The clan believed that one day, in a year of the fire-horse (from chinese horoscope), a predestined male heir would be born and reclaim the sword as its rightful owner. Once this happened, peace and tranquility would return to the land and none would fight over the sword anymore. Their hopes were dashed however when the prophecy was nullified as on the day of the flaming mare, Shen's wife produced not a male child but rather a female child (Nariko) while dying in childbirth. Shen was first tempted to murder Nariko but guilt swayed him, and instead he brought the girl up and trained her to be a warrior.
StoryThe game follows the story of Nariko, the fierce red-haired warrior whose clan has long protected the "Heavenly Sword", a god's blade of immense power that drains its wielder of their life force. A power hungry ruler known as King Bohan, seeks to obtain the sword to gain its devastating power.
Upon beginning the game, the player is immediately thrust into the final battle with Bohan's army. After slaying many of Bohan's soldiers, Nariko can no longer resist the sword's deadly curse. She falls to the ground as the characters of the sword deeply engrave themselves into her skin. After dying, she wakes up and finds herself in an empty clearing. Nariko laments at the sword's decision to take her at such a critical moment and begins to recall the last five days before her final battle.
Nariko's clan is assaulted by the first strike of King Bohan's forces. Before she joins the fight, Shen thrusts the sword into the ground next to her demanding that she take care of it. Nariko fights alongside her father and her clansmen as their defenses are weakened and stretched by scores of Bohan's warriors scaling the city walls accompanied with catapults. As the Warriors and Shen escape from Bohan's Army, Nariko protects them until spotting a catapult moving toward the fort. As Shen had earlier instructed her, she flees, as the fortress is apparently destroyed behind her. Whilst fleeing, she passes a large black bird with a golden head, which gives the impression that it is watching her. When Bohan's army captures her father and corners her in a retreat from the clan's city, Nariko has no choice but to wield the sword to defend herself in order to escape. She takes a flying leap off a cliff edge when Bohan's archers begin to fire at her.
Kai finds Nariko after disobeying Shen's orders to hide and informs her of the temple that her father and clansmen are being held captive. Nariko infiltrates the temple and is ambushed by Bohan's general, Flying Fox. She defeats Flying Fox for the time being and continues on to rescue her father. Meanwhile King Bohan plots to set up a trap for Nariko with his mistress Whiptail. Nariko sees her father dangling from a chain and falls for the bait. Whiptail's guards ambush her but are unsuccessful in their attempt to kill her. Whiptail decides to take Nariko on herself and tells Nariko the truth behind her father's original feelings about her birth - Shen wanted to kill Nariko shortly after her birth, but was unable to bring himself to do so. Nariko tells her father to leave her and fights with Whiptail. After Nariko impales Whiptail with the sword, King Bohan turns up and brutally snaps Whiptail's neck in her dying moments. Nariko passes out and is captured by Bohan.
Nariko awakens and realizes she has lost possession of the sword. King Bohan gleefully informs her that it is safely stored in his armory. Meanwhile, Kai makes her way to Nariko's holding cell. Kai is able to find where Nariko is imprisoned and begs that she comes home with her "like a good girl." Nariko explains to Kai that she needs to reacquire the Heavenly Sword to kill King Bohan. She asks Kai to retrieve the sword and Kai accepts the task. Kai eventually succeeds in finding the Heavenly Sword, only to also discover the corpse of her mother displayed as a gruesome trophy. In a flashback, it is revealed that, some years ago, Kai's mother was murdered in front of her eyes by Flying Fox. In the present day, Flying Fox suddenly appears and attacks Kai, who barely manages to escape with the sword. Bohan decides to throw a spectacle for his soldiers and forces Nariko to fight her own clansmen and Roach's pets monstrous creatures (Orangumen) in a pit. During a battle with these creatures, Kai comes flying from the rafters and throws Nariko the sword. When Nariko defeats all the Orangumen, Bohan orders his own son Roach to murder Nariko. After defeating Roach, both Nariko and Kai flee from the pit. Bohan then commands Flying Fox to kill Kai.
As the two try to escape the temple, Flying Fox cuts Kai off from Nariko's safety and they are separated. Nariko desperately tails Flying Fox in order to save Kai from being murdered. When she finally catches up with Flying Fox, he hangs Kai from a rope, dropping her from a great height. Believing Kai to be dead, Nariko screams in grief and rage, before beginning battle with Flying Fox. As Nariko and Flying Fox battle with each other, Kai suddenly stirs and reaches for her crossbow, shooting an arrow into Flying Fox. Her shot pierces his forehead and he falls to the ground, dead. Nariko releases the injured Kai from the noose and returns her to the care of the clan.
King Bohan rallies his men to launch a final attack to regain the Heavenly Sword. Nariko fights alongside her father and clansmen once more despite being outnumbered a thousand to one. Nariko kills countless of Bohan's troops with ease and destroys his catapults. Despite her efforts, the game is brought back to the beginning of the story where she fell to the ground dying. But this time, Nariko reverses her death by making a pact with the sword to protect it from becoming a trophy of war.
Nariko descends back onto the battlefield as a glowing white goddess radiant with light. Bohan looks to his pet raven (seen regularly throughout the story) and begs that it bestow him the power to destroy Nariko. This opens the possibility in the story that the raven is an incarnation of the evil Raven Lord defeated by the Heavenly Warrior in the animated prequel. Bohan gets his wish and the raven enters his body making him a dark, winged demon that is almost invincible. An epic battle ensues similar to the one foretold in the prophecy of the sword. Nariko manages to launch Bohan into the air, where she dices him with the sword before finally slamming him back to the ground. The raven leaves Bohan's body, and despite Bohan begging for mercy, pecks his eyes out and flies away. Nariko decides not to kill the defenseless Bohan and allows his son Roach to carry him away.
Though successful in protecting the sword from coming into the hands of ultimate evil (The Raven Lord/Bohan), Nariko still must give her life for wielding it, for that is the price for using the almighty sword, and the story comes to its end.
Nariko reflects to her father that she believes they have fought in vain for the prophecy, that she is not a warrior sent from heaven, but rather she chose to be the one who was going to save her people from evil. She took the sword, paid the price and ultimately defeated Bohan's, but nevertheless she was still a normal woman.
She also implies that the sword is not from heaven, as they believed it was, but somewhere else.
Nariko heals Kai and gives her the sword for safekeeping, before passing away. At the funeral, Nariko's body is placed into a boat filled with blossoms, and Kai and Shen cast her out to sea.
DevelopmentHeavenly Sword started development on PC with a view to moving onto next generation platforms such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The title was in development since 2003 (10 years ago) with footage of the original PC version published on TeamXbox.com in 2004 (9 years ago). It had, at one time, been up and running on an early Xbox 360 prototype, but this was abandoned in favor of the PlayStation 3 when the title was picked up by SCEE.. The game was developed using Havok Complete, a combination of Havok Physics and Havok Animation.
Actor Andy Serkis, who is best known for his motion capture and voice work for the character Gollum in the The Lord of the Rings movies, performs as the voice and motion capture actor for King Bohan, one of the major characters in Heavenly Sword; he also acts as Dramatic Director for the game and is one of the writers of the story of the game.
A demo was released to the PlayStation Store on Jul. 26, 2007 (6 years ago) featuring a short, cinematic clip at the beginning and two brief enemy battles, lasting approximately five to ten minutes.
An eight-second clip of the game was seen in an episode of the TV series Heroes entitled "Parasite", ostensibly being played by Jessica Sanders and her son, Micah. It featured Nariko running across ropes as they were cut by Bohan's soldiers, before landing on the platform to face them. Whilst the episode was broadcast over four months before the actual release of the game, the level displayed remained in the released build, including the rope sequence shown; the icons in the final game used to inform the player which buttons to press were changed from large, central icons as seen in the clip, to be smaller and positioned at the bottom of the screen.
A recent patch (1.10) released was for the inclusion of the DualShock 3 Vibration during certain parts of the game.
ReceptionHeavenly Sword sold over one million copies by May 2008 (5 years ago). The game has been praised for its graphics and combat system, while criticism has stemmed from the short length of the game and lack of online capabilities. Currently the game holds an average score of 79 out of 100 on Metacritic (based on 60 reviews), while Game Rankings has an average score of 81% (based on 68 reviews).
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