Blade and Sword
Ripped steaming out of the bowels of Diablo, Blade and Sword is a hack-and-trudge through ancient China. The sock-â€™em-up combos and body-part blizzards are groovy, but the gameplay won’t offer much you haven’t already seen in more capable isometric action role-playing games.
The recipe: place Diablo in the ancient Far East, add a Street Fighterâ€“style combo system, and youâ€™ve got the bare bones of what makes Blade and Sword. You can play as a slow brute, a balanced warrior, or a nimble rogue, but each character will have developed the same skills by the end of their journey. Your character embarks on a linear quest to free imprisoned artisans and defeat the usual evil wizard and his horde of horror-movie castoffs out to terrorize the innocent. It’s up to you to decide if all that monster skull-bashing is worthwhile.
The highlights: the game is long, with plenty of action. The crafty AI waits until youâ€™re committed to a combo before changing up its tactics. The art style is attractive, and the locales change frequently. You can chain your magical or physical attacks into ballistic combos that maximize the amount of damage dealt before your enemies are kick-slapped into the mud. (If they go down too soon, the combo has to be restarted, encouraging a careful ordering of attacks.) A welcome blocking option and a â€œsuper attackâ€ feature let you â€œdrawâ€ your attack with the mouse.
On the other hand, the resolution maxes out at an unimpressive 800×600, the sound effects are wimpy, and the dialogue is like a sad butchery of Hong Kong subtitling. But the biggest problem is that the action is so rapid-fire that most of the time hitting keyboard buttons in the right sequence becomes more of a hassle than it should be. It doesnâ€™t help that the scenery in many of the landscapes often obscures the action or blots out your character altogether. Itâ€™s just too damn bad, because the cool stuff, like the leaping martial arts and the combo system, can be hilarious fun.
System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, Win 95
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