God Hand ReviewCain Dornan
God Hand is an interesting game. At its surface, it appears to be little more than a straightforward, shallow and lifeless creation that fails to impress at first. Surprisingly, much of that first statement is true; God Hand is certainly not a deep title, as what is shown on screen is essentially what you get; a mindless button-mashing affair that pays back to the SNES and arcade classic fighters. It doesnt offer intricately detailed, vast and varied environments to brawl in or a deep stroyline to back up its on-screen presentation. Instead, it offers a bare-basics explanation for your existence and why your battling through hordes of mindless drones in battles that offer limited variation.
Its certainly not a game that everyone will appreciate. If youre looking for a game that does something new or completely revolutionizes the brawler genre, youre better of looking elsewhere. Theres nothing noticeably new here.
What God Hand does offer, though, is a tried-and-true gaming experience that it manages to pull off well. Remember those straightforward yet pleasantly fun beat em ups of the 80s and early 90s? This is essentially what God Hand offers, albeit with a slightly more up-to-date presentation and style thatll please anyone looking for a simple bash-everything-that-moves brawler.
The game pits you in control of a young, boastful male who knows how to fight, and loves nothing more than smashing some thugs skull into the ground. Your character boasts an immensely powerful arm, referred to as the God Hand, which is capable of dishing out some serious damage to unwilling foes. Youll spend the majority of the game plowing through groups of enemies, as well as battling the occasional boss who offers little more than greater health and some cooler moves to contend with.
Theres a very limited story behind the game, which is slowly revealed as you progress through the stages. Upon booting up a new game, youre thrown directly into the game without any explanation of who you are and the reason for why youre fighting all these thugs. As time passes, though, youll find out some basic reasons behind your cause, although, dont expect an engrossing storyline by any scale.
Simple punches and kicks are performed by tapping the controllers face buttons, with additional stylish and powerful moves being available to be dealt out by tapping the appropriate button and selecting from a list of moves that you can deal out. These moves not only issue more damage, but also look cool and occasional humorous, such as one move that sees your character charging up to dealt out a powerful blow, only to slightly tap the enemy in his family jewels, which sees the enemy grabbing and moaning in instant pain.
You can purchase additional moves using the cash that you find off fallen bodies or hidden within the scarce items that scatter the levels. There are quite a few different moves to be purchased, which helps keep the game varied and interesting as you progress. You can also charge up your god hand to deal out significant damage that makes you invincible and super-fast during a limited period of time. Charge up an on-screen bar by repeatedly beating down enemies and youll by able to activate the god hand mode, allowing you to mow through a group of enemies quickly and painlessly.
Although different pre-set difficulty levels can be selected upon booting up a new game, God Hand implements dynamic difficulty leveling which sees the game becoming harder if youre killing enemies easily. This is shown as a level up, which simply means that enemies will move quicker and hit harder. As you go up each level, the enemies will become increasingly difficult to fight. If the tables turn and they start pummeling you into the ground, though, your levels will decrease making it easier for you to progress once again.
Whats interesting is that God Hand doesnt take itself seriously. It doesnt try to be a serious, accurate brawler at all. It doesnt try to be true-to-life or straight arcade action that weve seen in countless titles. Instead, it injects a level of humour that keeps it from growing stale. The occasional, relatively brief cutscenes that youll encounter often has characters making funny comments or your character mocking enemies in a humorous, occasionally immature tone. At the same time, the gameplay adds some background audience laughter when you get countered by an enemy or pull off a laughable attack on an enemy, such as the aforementioned kick to the groin. Its nothing significant, but it helps to bring a smile to your face with some of the creations that Clover Studios has come up with.
The presentation of God Hand isnt exactly outstanding, and some will consider its visuals and style to be somewhat outdated to a degree. It doesnt look horrible, no, but when compared to many of the other brawlers currently available on the PS2, theres nothing too impressive here. With that said, the character models do offer some reasonable detail and animation, although, the environment can often leave plenty to be desired. Some of the levels feel painfully empty and plain, but youll often be too busy bashing your foes to notice.
God Hand does one thing right: it successfully pulls the tried-and-true beat em up gameplay style and inserts some of its own odd creations, offering an experience that, although not entirely new, should satisfy the craving of brawler enthusiasts. Its lifespan isnt too bad, and with the flexible difficulty leveling system, the game can hold some reasonable lifespan for fans of the genre especially considering its budget price.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.