Sunday, 31 May 2015

Bujingai (PS2)

There's pretty much one thing everyone knows about this game, if they know anything about it at all, and that's that famous Japanese musician/actor/general celebrity Gackt lent his likeness to the main character, Lau Wong. The thing is, Lau mostly just looks like what you would picture in your head if someone asked you to imagine the young male protagonist of a Japanese-developed PS2 game. The game's set in a lavishly realised world that combines the aesthetics of a near-future cyberpunk world with those of stereotypical Chinese wuxia fantasy, and it's a fast-paced 3D platform/beat em up. In fact, my friend who lent me his copy for this review described it to me as "the game he wished Devil May Cry was".

It is definitely very similar to the Devil May Cry series, especially the third entry, whos release date it preceds by over a year. You go about the levels, swordfighting monsters and demons and the like, as well as doing a bit of platforming here and there. Gackt aside, the game's real gimmick is how it incorporates that aforementioned wuxia influence in both its combat and its platforming.

At its most basic, the combat is similar to most 3D beat em ups: you mash a button to perform combos, hold a shoulder button to lock onto a single enemy, and use the jump button while locked on to roll around and dodge. The attack animations are very stylised, with Lau flipping and spinning and generally engaging in lots of movement and acrobatics while performing even his most basic combos, but the game really comes into its own when fighting an opponent who also weilds a sword and has their own defence meter. When you're locked onto an enemy, if you're not attacking when they attack you, their attack is parried, and you can then counter by quickly attacking, which depletes your defence meter, but only very temporarily. When facing an enemy who also has this skill, the fight turns into a dramatic clash of flailing swords and counters countering counters and so on, and it does a good job of making combat feel and look really cool and fun.

As for the platforming, the wuxia influence is really just a spin on the old wall-running gimmick, just animated in a way that looks nicer, and of course, the skilled player can also jump and flip off of walls on which they are running, and start running on a nearby wall. It takes some practice, but like the combat, it's a small, simple thing that just makes playing the game a little bit more satisfying.

Bujingai is a game that definitely recieves my recommendation. It looks great, sounds great and it's both fun and satisfying to play. A quick look at ebay also tells me that it's available for only a few mere pounds, too!

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