Among the titles that Sony is working on for the PS3's spring 2006 launch is a third-person action game currently called Heavenly Sword. We were shown a brief minute-long trailer of the game at the press conference yesterday, and while the footage didn't give us much insight into gameplay, it sure gave us an idea of how hectic and majestic the graphics are / will be.
The game seems to be set in a world that's a combination of ancient China and the far-flung future. After a quick shot showing the female hero being sent into battle by her lord, the viewpoint transitioned to a scene showing her in a grassy wooded area. Suddenly, a group of eight thugs jumped out from behind the trees and started attacking the heroine with swords and knives. She quickly drew her twin blades and cut them all down. Although that scene was quick, we were stuck by all of the detail evident in the scenery and the characters' clothing. You could actually make out the dark lines in the tree bark and individual leaves. When the camera showed a close-up of the girl slashing one of the bad guy's, you could see the sweat stains on their cloth undershirts and make out the fine crease lines on their leather vests. The pained facial expressions they made when being punched and cut were pretty cool to watch too.
After a few more small battles, which revealed the girl using her twin blades just like Kratos uses his blades in the current God of War, the viewpoint transitioned to an overhead shot showing the girl in the midst of hundreds of angry soldiers, with THOUSANDS more charging into the battle from two flanks. The camera seamlessly panned and zoomed around the soldiers to give us an idea of how many they were. It honestly looked like a frantic version of the Gungan battle scene in Star Wars Episode 1. Then the camera switched back to the girl. She pulls out a giant cannon-like weapon, aims it at the larges mass of soldiers, and fires. The projectile split into eight smaller projectiles–each casting off jets of flame, which caused nearby soldiers to take on a reddish glow as they passed by. The projectiles exploded, and after a quick succession of explosions, we were treated to a scene showing hundreds–if not thousands–of individual soldiers clasping their throats and falling to the ground. A final camera shot revealed the aftermath. Thousands of soldiers dead, but thousands more still charging toward the girl, who was still in the thick of combat with her swords swooping out in front of her.
All we could tell about gameplay was that the game will involve action-oriented combat with martial arts, swords, and jumping. The game isn't far along enough to have a playable demo at the show.
However, the point Sony was trying to make with this footage was to show how the system could seamlessly handle thousands of separate characters in a variety of camera sweeps without bogging down or losing detail. The company made its point. We get it. The PlayStation 3 can handle scenes like the beach rush from Saving Private Ryan or the final battles from Star Wars in real-time.
We're looking forward to seeing that concept applied to an Asian-flavored action game called Heavenly Sword.