Genji PlayStation 2
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Game Republic
Release Date: Out Now
Genji, an introduction.
Hack 'n' slash action games have always been a popular genre on the PlayStation 2. The Onimusha series is a testament to how popular and how polished these games can be. Genji is a game that on first glance appears to be very similar to the Onimusha games. There are some key differences but even so, it is safe bet that if you enjoyed the Onimusha games you're really going to enjoy what Genji has to offer.
What's the game about?
As you might expect the game has a Japanese mythological feel about it. The game is actually a Samurai adventure based on the Japanese legend of the same name. You'll play as both the hero, Genkuro Yoshitsune and his companion Benkei during the course of the game. Yoshitsune is essentially on a mission to defeat Kiyomori, head of the evil Heishi clan. The game is set in the 12 th century and the Heishi have overthrown the Genji aristocracy and have a tyrannical grip on Japan. A few of the Heishi generals have special stones called Amahagane that give them special powers and make them almost impossible to defeat. The Amahagane allows its owner to harness the power of Kamui, an incredible power that can be devastating in battle. Thankfully Yoshitsune has an Amahagane of his own. However the Heishi are out to collect all of the Amahagane and should they achieve this goal, they will have absolute rule for ever.
What's good about the game?
Anyone who has enjoyed the Onimusha series will find a lot to like in Genji. In fact the game has a very strong Capcom flavour to it and with good reason as Yoshiki Okamoto; the head of Game Republic has been responsible for games such as Street Fighter II, Resident Evil and Devil May Cry during his time with Capcom. The game has a quality pedigree then and this becomes obvious the moment the game begins. The battles are the highpoint of the game and are excellent. The boss battles are a definite highlight and are thoroughly enjoyable. As in most games of this nature your characters will level up but the experience gained will depend on how successful you are on stringing combos together. Defeating enemies will fill your Kamui meter and once filled you can use this power which basically slows down the action and gives you more time to take out enemies as well as enabling you to skillfully avoid them and strike back with a counter attack. Whilst Yoshitsune is quick and agile, Benkei is just the opposite. However, what he lacks in speed he makes up for in strength. Swinging an almighty staff or club he can deal, and take, an immense amount of damage. Both characters are great to fight with, although there are times when choosing one over the other is the best course of action. Throughout the game you'll collect Amahagane crystals and for every 3 you collect, you can upgrade your health, attack or defence stats which is a welcome feature. As you might expect there's also a variety of items you can purchase that will give your character stats a boost.
What's not so good about the game?
Unfortunately the old problem of fixed camera angles, so often a niggle with some of the classic Capcom games, returns and causes the same problems it's caused in the past. Sometimes you're battling enemies who are just slightly out of view and you can be attacked by enemies who are just out of your view too. This isn't a major problem but it's an old problem that shouldn't really exist in today's games. Genji also suffers from being rather short. There's just no way this game is going to last 10 hours, even if you struggle with certain boss fights. However on finishing the game additional difficulty levels become available which makes for a tougher second play through. Of course not everyone wants to play through a game for a second time but the battles in Genji are so enjoyable I suspect that most will want to. You can even restart a game with all the attributes and items that you've finished the game with on your first play through, which is great to see.
How does it look?
Graphically Genji looks great and the visuals are amongst the best the action game genre has to offer on the PlayStation 2. The presentation of the game is fantastic. Everything from the menu art to the picturesque backgrounds looks as good as it possibly could on the PlayStation and the game is very easy on the eye. The CG movies are impressive and help carry the story along but it's the visual quality of the battles that steals the show and makes Genji something special. The boss fights in particular look very impressive. Throughout the game the frame rate is rock solid (even in 60Hz mode) and the developers must have worked hard to get every last drop of performance out of the PlayStation 2.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Deaf gamers shouldn't have any problems with Genji. The game offers subtitles and these are enabled by default. When you first play the game you'll find the introduction is subtitled which is excellent and it's something you don't see that often. All the conversations in the game are subtitled and the subtitles in the cutscenes are colour-coded which is great to see. Tutorial messages are also given in text. The only omission as far as deaf gamers are concerned is that when you meet certain characters such as a trader or someone who's standing alongside a road you may be walking on, they will give you a greeting before the main conversation text appears. This greeting, along with a goodbye that follows after the conversation has been completed, isn't subtitled but it's of little consequence. Whenever you are near to an Amahagane crystal the force feedback vibrations will kick in to alert you, which is a nice touch.
Genji definitely falls into the category of being short and sweet. The biggest complaint gamers will have is that it finishes too quickly. With that in mind however it's worth mentioning that although the game is short, it's very impressive and fans of games such as Onimusha and its sequels shouldn't hesitate in picking up a copy. The combat is the main highlight and the battles are visually impressive as well as being hugely enjoyable. Genji may not have received the hype that some other games have in the run up to Christmas but for those of you looking a game in the Onimusha style it's definitely a must.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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Genji's is one of those games you wish was a whole lot longer. From beginning to end the game is very enjoyable but unfortunately the time taken to get from the beginning to the end is far too short. Onimusha fans should definitely pick this one up.