Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War Xbox 360 Review

Most reviews are written solely from one person’s point of view, with that that person expressing their opinion throughout the entirety of the text. There’s nothing wrong with this review style, as it works for countless sites across the internet, and many other media. However, if there was one game out of the thousand or so released each and every year to cause some conflict in this style, it would have to be Bladestorm. Truth be told, it is divisive to such an extent that it I started the game hating it, and ended up enjoying it, when on the other hand a good friend of mine thought it was a great idea to begin with, but then threw the controller to the floor after some time. What’s even weirder is the fact that there’s no defining feature you can put your finger on, and say it’s what made you fall in or out of love with the game.

Before playing the game, most should feel like they know what to expect from Bladestorm – it’s related to Koei’s well known button-mashing Dynasty Warriors titles, after all. Weirdly, though, it’s missing Dynasty Warriors’ co-op mode – the very reason most people go near it in the first place. However, after getting hands-on with Bladestorm, it’s obvious there is more to the game than it just being a copy-and-paste of the Dynasty Warriors formula. The main reason for this being that you now have a satisfactory amount of control over the units spread around the environment. In fact, this is the main mechanic the game is based around, and the main reason you’ll either love or hate the game.

One aspect of this love/hate relationship is the game’s learning curve, which is initially very steep. Going headfirst into the hoard won’t do you any good, as your lone fighter will not last very long fighting against a squad stacked with weapons. This time it’s all about picking the best group to take into battle with you, and mixing and matching your team’s equipment to have an easier time against these enemies. Thankfully, the controls for this are very easy – so easy, in fact, that walking over to the unit of your choice and giving the A button a quick tap means that they’re under your control. Then, once under your control they’ll move about and follow you whereever you go, meaning you can direct them in battle, move them into position, and use the right trigger along with the other three face buttons to perform a selection of different attacks and special moves. The game still manages to remain familiar though, with the distinct aura of the other Koei action games about it. Trademark details on the HUD are all still there with the recognizable health bars, map, and combo splash text making an appearance. Furthermore, the epic scale of the battle that unfolds before you is yet another trait that remains, and one that may entice fans of the genre back for more.

Also, the game is initially very welcoming, allowing you to customize character appearance before you enter into battle. The amount of options does feel a bit low however, so it’s likely you won’t get your charter to look and sound just how you want it to. In fact, the sound aspect is definitely a problem, with every single one of the characters coming across as being very irritating in the vocal department. On the other hand, as you fight your way through the story you can buy/sell items, level up, prepare for battle in different ways, spend skill points in different areas, balance unit statistics, and accept a differing selection of missions, so there is the option to approach the game many different ways which helps to keep things interesting.

All in all, it’s hard to recommend Bladestorm to most people, as it could easily end up feeling like a waste of your money. On the other hand, it could very well be one of the top games in Koei’s action-strategy niche. In truth, the game does nothing to offend, but it also manages to come across as feeling a bit bland and half-baked at the same time. Even if you are a fan of the genre, then the new unit mechanics could be enough to put you off the game, but at the same time it could also be that little something extra you wanted all along. On the whole, Bladestorm is truly a game that is all things to all people, but unfortunately not in the best sense of the phrase.

So, I guess this means that this review wasn’t all that helpful to you then. Sorry.

A game that does nothing wrong, but still comes up short.

6 out of 10
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