When it comes to modern platforming God of War is the benchmark against which all other games are measured. Action, puzzles, and amazing visuals are all characteristics of the series. After recently completing the original God of War I decided to see how some of its competitors stack up to it. This week I compared God of War (from the God of War collection on PS3) to Heavenly Sword. It’s a closer race than you might think.
1. Gameplay – This is a strong element of both games. God of War’s gameplay is fast paced, over the top, non stop fun. While Heavenly Sword is no slouch in this department, the gameplay does get repetitive from time to time since you can continually use the same attacks to defeat enemies. Additionally, Heavenly Sword doesn’t do enough to break up the hack and slash action. God of War on the other hand has a variety of gameplay. From underwater levels to scaling cliffs, and solving puzzles there’s enough other action to break up the hack and slash. It’s worth noting that the “aftertouch” in Heavenly Sword is a fun addition to the gameplay. It allows you to aim the projectiles you throw. Throwing soldiers across the screen and aiming them at other soldiers is loads of fun!
Edge: God of War
2. Story – Another key component to both games. God of War’s is a dark, dreary story about revenge. If definitely fits the gameplay. However, I didn’t end up caring for most of the characters one way or another. On the other hand Heavenly Sword’s story has more range to it. There were times I genuinely laughed out loud. There are several strong acting performances. Kai, King Bohan, and Nariko come to mind. Also, having Andy Serkis (of Lord of the Rings fame), and Anna Torv (Fringe) doesn’t hurt either.
Edge: Heavenly Sword
3. Game Controls – Controls are important to any video game, since they’re how the gamer interacts with the game. For the most part God of War controls like a dream. I had no trouble pulling off acrobatic, bone shattering moves. I did have some trouble with jumps in a couple stages, but it wasn’t enough to significantly detract from my experience. The same cannot be said for Heavenly Sword. I had difficulty pulling off the aerial moves. So much so, that I ended up almost exclusively relying on the strong attack for the whole game.
Edge: God of War
4. Graphics/Presentation – Graphics of modern games are beautiful. Bad graphics make a game feel dated and old. Thankfully, neither game feels dated. God of War improves significantly on the graphics of the original. Battles feel like organized chaos as enemies are flying left and right blood spilling all the while with no slow down from the game. On the other hand, Heavenly Sword has a beautiful “water color look” to it. Some battles have as many as a hundred enemies on screen at a time with no slow down from the game.
Edge: Heavenly Sword (only slightly)
5. Unlockables – Unlockables give a game replay value. Playing through a game with new weapons or items changes the experience. God of War does a wonderful job of this by giving you unlimited magic on your second playthrough. You also get deleted levels after your first playthrough. Heavenly Sword only unlocks the hardest difficulty after you beat it. THAT’S IT! THAT’S ALL I GET NINJA THEORY!?!?!??! Personally, I felt cheated. Many other games unlock new weapons and/or levels (Resident Evil 5) and all you give me is a new difficulty setting!?!?!? I’m way more likely to play a game multiple times, if the experience changes significantly. Ugh, I digress.
Edge: God of War
Conclusion: God of War is the better of the two. Was there ever a doubt? However, that doesn’t mean that fun things such as the aftertouch and production values from Heavenly Sword can’t be put into other platformers. On a side note, it’s a shame how close Heavenly Sword comes to being great. With a little bit of polish, it could be a classic. Oh well. However, building on the fun ideas that Heavenly Sword came up with can enhance the experience of future platformers.
For more on God of War check out my review.
For more on Heavenly Sword check out my review.