Like the renowned Nintendo classic Punch-Out!!, the Wii MotionPlus enabled game Swords is all about participating in a series of one-on-one challenges against different opponents. The difference here is that Swords tasks you with beating some pretty unbelievable adversaries, including a pirate, Lancelot, a Chi-wielding samurai and an actual robot. I sat down with a preview build of Swords to see how this game compares to other fighting games and -- more specifically -- other games that use the Wii MotionPlus.
Apparently, I completed the game in about 45 minutes. I can't be sure if this is just because I'm working off a preview disc, but I progressed through the whole campaign and saw the credits roll in less than an hour. Huh.
In Swords, players take control of the young swordsman named Hiro and train under the guidance of Sensei Musashi. Hiro must fight several opponents from different time periods before facing off against one final foe. These challenges are punctuated by simple mini-games that task players with cutting objects tossed into the air, carving blocks of wood, and killing zombies (In a dream!).
The gameplay of Swords couldn't be simpler. Players can swing the Wii Remote in one of seven different directions. The only strike that can't be executed is swinging from the bottom of the screen straight upwards. Everything else is a legitimate strike. By holding down the B button, Hiro will enter a defensive posture and can deflect oncoming attacks. Players must orient the Wii Remote and control the sword in order to block the strike. Hiro's sword must be perpendicular to the enemy's sword in order to block successfully.
That's really all you need to know in order to play. You can hold down the A button to charge up a special move, but I found this technique to be largely ineffective. The special attack takes way too long to charge and it can be easily interrupted (you can't block and maintain a steady charge). And although Hiro's sword generally matches your movements one-to-one, I found that the tracking starts getting wonky after one match and the controller needs to be recalibrated.
After playing Swords for about an hour (and beating it), I definitely have some reservations about this title. Once you start swinging that remote, things get way less accurate than I would have liked, and the campaign battles take too long to fight through. In fact, it was all pretty bland, even though I got to fight a beautiful Japanese woman on the rooftops of Shinjuku. Usually I would drool over something like that...
During the campaign matches, it seemed like my AI opponents blocked 99 percent of my normal attacks, making those normal attacks entirely useless. The only way I could deal any damage was by executing a counterattack, which must be input following a perfect block. This means that the entire campaign is a slow, defensive game. Not terribly exciting.
Again, I haven't tried my hand at the retail version of Swords, but my experience with the game so far has been rough at best. I have a hard time believing things will turn around come launch day, but we'll know for sure next month.
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