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E3 2006: 'God Hand' (PS2) - Impressions

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Nice KickEver since the early days of Double Dragon and Streets of Rage, it has come to my attention that people like to beat up other people. Run across the screen, beat the tar out of anyone who stands in the way, and then move on to the next mindless thug. God Hand continues the beat 'em up genre, but introduces a bit of anime flair set in a Wild West world. Yeehaw! I'm gonna whip me some doggies!

Set in a world that allows the main character to move in more ways than just left to right, God Hand is an over the shoulder third person beat 'em up that features some extremely out there maneuvers to suggest that this guy has a little more behind him than just a bowl of Wheaties.

I noticed the Wild West setting first, which harkens back to a time when streets were made of dirt, saloons littered the place, and spittoons were black and wreaking of spit. Besides the western look of the environment, the enemy character models are another way to discern the western motif; the enemies wear faded blue jeans, chaps, leather vests, and other such clothing articles from that time period.

The main character is a bit of an odd fellow though, as he looks more modern in his appearance, plus that isn't even considering the fact that he sports the "god hand." For all intents and purposes, the main character feels as if he has been ripped from his own time and placed in this western one, because his unique power that channels through his fist is anything but ordinary.

While roaming through the town that makes up the preview level of the game, enemies are constantly approaching, looking to throw down. Once the character has locked on to an enemy (done by simply looking at a nearby enemy) the main character will always keep that person in his sights unless told otherwise by the player. Combos are easily done with presses of the X and Square buttons, and dodges can be performed by using the right thumbstick to dodge to the sides, flip forward, or flip backwards.

Besides the basic beat 'em up moves, God Hand also features several new fighting moves to add to the genre's repertoire. The Roulette Technique is a spinning wheel that allows the player to select one of several specific moves, which will perform such actions as a mighty punch to a kick that…well…really rings the bell of the male enemies if I'm making myself clear enough here. The Roulette Technique moves are all very stylish and cool looking, and I could tell because I heard several people passing by utter little comments about how awesome a move was. For instance, after an enemy got behind me, I was able to counter his move, which ended up with my character doing this crazy scissor kick that proceeded to knock the enemy back against a wall.

God Hand is also available, which is a powerup move that allows the main character to amp himself up into a tizzy, as he is able to speed up his performance and perform more powerful attacks.

Enemies range from the simple one on one encounters to the two or more (usually no more than three) affairs that weren't that much of a challenge. Other than the simple fodder, there was an instance of an enemy turning into an alien creature that proved to be quite the challenge as it would vanish and approach from behind, which meant the easy combos wouldn't work on this monster. There was also a fat guy roaming around the place at one point, and he appeared to be either a miniboss or the boss for that level.

Overall, though there were some control issues (he turns like Lara Croft used to in the old Tomb Raider games), all the other elements of the game worked rather well and I had quite the fun time beating up people. Also, people seemed to think I was cool while doing it, so I have to give bonus points for that.