The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Guildhall at SMU

Preview: Genji: Dawn of the Samurai

From the mind of Yoshiki Okamoto (best known for Capcom’s “Street Fighter III”) and developed by Game Republic, “Genji: Dawn of the Samurai” is an intense, beautiful hack-and-slash game with a surprising amount of depth. Although it won’t be available until Sept. 20, the three-level demo reviewed here suggests the game will indeed be worth playing.

“Genji” is based on a 12th-century Japanese tale, with 2 heroes (Yoshitsune, a slender, lithe swordsman and Benkei, a warrior-monk) battling to rid their homeland of an evil samurai sect called the Heishi. For those who’ve played “Onimusha” or “Nnja Gaiden,” “Genji” will be immediately recognizable in both style and gameplay.

Graphics

One word explains how this game looks — gorgeous. You can tell that the PlayStation 2 is now a mature technology as each new game pushes the limits of what the console can achieve. Genji excels in several areas.

First up are the characters. All the models (and particularly the two heroes) are beautifully made. They move smoothly, transition between standing, running, fighting and dodging with no visible problems. Yoshitsune, the first hero you play (and for me the most fun) has a slightly stylized Samurai look, but he feels light on his feet and maneuverable, whereas Benkei, the warrior-monk, is huge and lumbering but devastating in combat.

The levels are well-designed, giving you obvious clues where to go. Everything feels Japanese (or at least the style we know from media), peaceful and tranquil with an underlying current of power and potential. For a demo, the levels were impressive — I’d love to see what the entire game looks like.

Gameplay

This is a 3D fighting game, and so there’s button-mashing and lots of it. But don’t think that’s all there is to the gameplay.

Two systems add intricacy to the gameplay – leveling up and Kamui. Leveling up is familiar to those who have played any kind of role-playing game. The further you progress and the more enemies you defeat, the greater your skills and health become. Although this felt a little awkward to begin with, I found myself wanting to stay in an area so that more enemies would appear just to level up and be stronger for later in the game.

Items can be picked up to replenish health or boost your attack power for a limited time, but there didn’t seem adequate opportunities to use them — again this is a three-level demo, so hopefully the full game will rectify this.

Kamui, the second system, could be construed by some as “bullet time.” Dispatching a certain number of enemies allows you to build up Kamui (meaning “mind’s eye”). You have four levels of Kamui that builds up over the course of a battle. When used, you are able to see enemy attacks just before they happen which gives you the opportunity to react quicker. The more Kamui you have, the more you can anticipate.

At first this system felt tacked-on to the game, but it rapidly made sense – during Kamui, you can attack more enemies with greater power. Defeating the truly fearsome game bosses requires careful use of Kamui, so becoming familiar with the system is mandatory – after a while, I didn’t know how to play without it. Those players who enjoy going toe-to-toe shouldn’t have to use Kamui, but players who demand more from their game experience will find this very enjoyable.

I did, however, have problems controlling the character in 3D. Using the thumb stick (not my favorite control scheme), I found myself missing a lot of attacks and leaving myself open to defeat. I think I could adjust given enough time, but it was frustrating to die several times until I learned to not use the thumb stick while attacking.

Summary

The reviewed demo didn’t try to translate everything into English; it kept the original Japanese conversations while using English subtitles. For someone who loves watching subtitled foreign films (instead of the dubbed kind), I felt immersed in the game world from the moment I enterted. I kept playing the game because I wanted to see what beautiful scenery would appear next, I think you’ll feel this too. “Genji: Dawn of the Samurai” will earn a place of honor in my game library.

Game Brief

Sony Computer Entertainment America has voluntarily recalled some AC adaptors shipped with its slim-line PlayStation 2 consoles from October 2004 due to possible overheating. Replacement AC adaptors will be provided at no charge to consumers.

Consumers with slim-line PlayStation 2 consoles purchased during or after October 2004 with model numbers # SCPH 70012 and SCPH 70011 should immediately unplug their AC adaptor and check to see if they have an affected unit. All affected adaptors have serial numbers that start with “F3” with the following date codes: 2004.08, 2004.09, 2004.10, 2004.11, and 2004.12.

Call SCEA’s customer service at 1-888-780-7690 or visit www.usplaystation.com for additional information.

The Guildhall at SMU is an intense 21-month graduate program in digital game development. The Guildhall offers a Masters of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development degree or a professional certificate. The curriculum was designed by expert teachers working with leaders in the gaming industry to provide students with a solid foundation in game development. Visit http://guildhall.smu.edu

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