Swords and babes. From Bloodrayne’s dhampir femme fatale to Kill Bill to half the character roster in a Soul Caliber game, could there be a sweeter combination. There is just something about a sexy woman wielding one of the sexiest weapons ever made that just alluring. And here in the first Time Warp Review of the new year, your pal Devildriver1313 is going to take a look back at one of the most prominent sword fighting babes in gaming as well as celebrate the 10th Anniversary of her introduction.
Nariko is part of a clan charged with protecting a mystic weapon in the Ninja Theory action, hack and slash game Heavenly Sword. The game centers of the mystical Heavenly Sword, said to have been wielded by a goddess to defeat the Raven Lord. It has since then become to cause of wars between several clans seeking its power until one clan decided to devote itself to protecting the sword, thus bringing the wars to end momentary end. The tyrannical King Bohan has gathered several clans together and now seeks the power of the Heavenly Sword so he can rule over all. That’s pretty much to whole concept of Heavenly Sword. You play as Nariko who must keep the godly weapon from the hands of a madman. As she wields the blade, it slowly drains her life in exchange for incredible power.
Development for Heavenly Sword began in 2002. Originally intended to be for the Xbox 360, a PC version of the game was published in 2004 before this was abandoned in favor of the PlayStation 3 when SCEE picked up the title. Andy Serkis, known for his portrayal of Gollum in “Lord of the Rings” and Ceaser in “Planet of the Apes”, served a Dramatic Director and was one of the writers for the game as well as performing the motion capture and voice of King Bohan. However, he is not the only familiar face behind the game. Anna Torv, who played Agent Olivia Dunham on the FOX series’ “Fringe”, plays Heavenly Sword’s protagonist Nariko. Heavenly Sword got subtle exposure in an episode of “Heroes” after a demo was released in the Playstation Store on July 26, 2007.
Heavenly Sword featured a unique combat system with gameplay that resembles a martial arts title focused on melee combat while featuring opportunities for ranged attacks. With the press of a button, Nariko can switch between three different stances. Speed Stance provides a balance between fast attacks and strength where the Heavenly Sword is split into separate blades. Range Stance offers quick strikes with chained blades (sound familiar?) at the cost of strength. Lastly, Power Stance is exactly that. Nariko uses the Heavenly Sword as a whole blade that delivers devastating blows but sacrifices speed. She uses these skills to fight her way through Bohan’s army in an attempt to end his reign and save her clan. Attacking enemies built up a meter that allowed Nariko to use special moves to finish off her opponents. The moves are stylish and dealt excruciating pain. What’s more is that the move performed is dependent upon the level of the meter. One example is Nariko hooking the ankles of a soldier with chained blades and slamming down on the unlucky fellow’s chest with the Heavenly Sword in it two-handed blade form. Another is of her swinging a man high into the air and slamming down with enough force to knock his comrades back, all the while with her foot firmly planted in his crotch. Kai, Nariko’s sister, is playable in certain levels that are tailored to her abilities. These mainly consist of sniping missions, using her crossbow to pick off enemies, in some cases to protect characters. While Kai cannot perform hand-to-hand combat, in stages that call for her to explore the level she is able to hop over objects and to free herself from an enemy’s grasp by temporarily stunning them.
Another unique feature is the SIXAXIS motion sensor in the PS3 controller. With this, projectiles can be maneuvered to their targets. Kai’s arrows can be guided once they are launched, making for accurate shots and one-shot kills. When playing Nariko, she can use cannons to take down Bohan’s tanks that have to be systematically destroyed. Guiding the cannonballs makes this easier but it takes some getting used to.
Heavenly Sword was released September 12, 2007 with generally favorable reviews. The game was praised for its graphics and combat system, while criticism stemmed from the short length of the game and lack of online capabilities. USA Today and Digital Spy giving the game high marks, saying “Heavenly Sword is a great buy for the excellent sword fighting” and that PS3 players “will be satiated with the feverish pace Heavenly Sword provides.” While the New York praised Heavenly Sword for its breathtaking scenery and saying that “the intelligent, cruel King Bohan, voiced brilliantly by Andy Serkis, is one of the best video game villains ever. However, they also called the controls frustrating and that the sniping sequences were tedious. Regardless, Heavenly Sword has entered Playstation’s “Greatest Hits” forum and Nariko has become one of the sexiest female characters in gaming. In 2013, she was ranked as the 18th greatest heroine in video game history by Complex. An animated series was made by London production company Blinkink and animated by CHASE animation studios before the launch of title. The five-episode series was made available online and in the Playstation Store. The first two episodes were including with the game, however the last three episodes did not make the cut in time. A CG-animated film version was produced and developed by Blockade Entertainment and Drive Angry writer Todd Farmer wrote the script. Anna Torv returns as Nariko and Alfred Molina takes over the role of King Bohan. The film was released on Blu-ray, DVD and on PlayStation Network on September 2, 2014. Nariko would become playable again in Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale where she joins other well-known characters including Kratos, from whom Heavenly Sword is said to have “borrowed” its gameplay and elements.
Though it was short-lived, Nariko’s fight against tyranny for the sake of her clan will not be forgotten.
Heavenly Sword massive battle!
Heavenly Sword movie trailer narrated by Anna Torv!