Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers Review


When it comes to understanding all the manga and anime shows there is only one games company that springs to mind, Namco Bandai. Long ago mastering a superb looking anime game engine and realising the untapped potential of these shows that sport hundreds of episodes; each offering twisting storylines, eccentric and strange characters and of course, lots and lots of fighting. With a steady release of Naruto titles it was only time before setting their sights on another show, this time the long running Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac manga and anime series.

In the far off reaches of my brain there is some familiarity of this show, maybe on an early Saturday morning cartoon show way back when we had the Super Channel or TCC when it was VERY European, that sadly does not help at all with what exactly is going on, which is a lot; the game throwing all sorts of sub plots with little or no explanation, leaving only those familiar with the shows and books getting the most out of this. The single player campaign approaches the show's three main story arcs, starting off with Sanctuary with the small team of Saints trying to rescue the reincarnation of Athena, pitting their fighting skills against the top 12 Gold Saints and then moving onto the Poseidon storyline and finally Hades, where the evil god is released from the underworld in search of Athena. There are a few attempts to try and grab the attention of the player, with plenty of talky cut scenes at least trying to give reason to the next few fights you partake in however with far too many references to scenes not even shown in the game I found myself losing interest in the who’s and whys and just got on with the fighting, which whilst is not fantastic, turns out to be quite enjoyable.

The 3D fighting pits you into a one on one scenario against a huge roster of characters in a large arena allowing you to run around quite freely to try and get a good angle of attack, in fact the movements of each character was some of the best in 3D fighting games I have experienced, only hindered by the awkward over the shoulder view that leaves you fretting to locate the enemy with the camera stick. The game will give you will have plenty of opportunities to play around as the many members of the Saints, the majority of the controls are the same across the board; with three face attack buttons, a light and heavy and a special. You then have another special attack button that you can link with the basic attacks that runs off your Cosmo energy gauge that builds up as you battle, letting you create very flashy attacks with very little effort, just try not to miss as the resulting animation is quite long, creating a very easy open for your adversary to use in their favour. Sadly though even with these easy to use controls and pretty visuals the majority of the battles end up turning into a frantic flurry of punches and kicks, knocking down the enemy, letting them get up, then running away and then repeating over and over again.



One of the main issues with the game I had though was the overuse of fighting the same characters in quick succession. Sometimes with the same fighter, other times you will play as another of the team to follow the shows plot, but either way, you are fighting the guy that you defeated just moments before, sometimes there is an explanation, other times its just a well done for defeating the baddie, know fight them all over again; it gets tiresome very quickly.

Away from the single player mode you have a selection of online modes to try out including a Galaxy Mode tournament, however with each game I played it was either a serious lag fest, something that has no place in a modern fighting game, or I just got my arse handed too me in every fight.

Visually the game is a mixed effort, for the characters themselves they look and move just like their TV counterparts, showing just how good the games engine is, however the backgrounds are a real dull affair. A confusing element is that even with hours upon hours of video content available from the TV show or using the games 3D models the game creators opt for a static picture and the old classic talking heads option, a bit tame by today’s standards for a full price title.

Even with an enjoyable, if a little easy fighting experience, the repetitive nature and over reliability on requiring prior knowledge of the story makes this one for the fans only. A shame as with a little more focus on the cut scenes and maybe even a little editing of unnecessary side plots this could have been a much better title.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: PS3)

Pros

+ Faithful to the TV show
+ Easy to use fighting system

Cons

- The story is very confusing for non-fans
- Very laggy online experience

Edited On 19 Dec, 2013

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