Seven Samurai 20XX

Format: PS2

5 060040 050378
Age Restrictions: 12+
30 April 2004

Inspired by one the greatest samurai masterpiece of all time, Seven Samurai 20XX engages players with an experience that combines intense melee-style samurai combat with an epic story that takes the timeless tale into the future. Using a variety of swordplay styles, players employ numerous single and double katana attacks and an arsenal of moves that grows with their mastery of the samurai way...

Or so the developers of Seven Samurai 20XX claim... First impressions are not fantastic. The game has to have one of the dullest covers ever produced for a console game - it doesn't exactly scream "kick-ass fun" at you.

But then, quite frankly, that's probably a good thing because 20XX just doesn't deliver the goods. The Seven Samurai movie is a cinematic masterpiece, and while I certainly wasn't expecting this game to live up to the merits of the movie, it would have been a start if some thought had gone into the gameplay.

The graphics look fantastic, but the gameplay?... Some words of advice... If you have never completed a game before (and I'm sure there are people out there who haven't) then this could be the one that you finish... in an afternoon.

All you have to do is constantly hit the square button and before you know it the final boss is knocking at your door. But, before you get to this meanie you have to mash a whole heap of baddies. There are over 40 different types of enemy - all of which are beautifully detailed.

Every now and then the action is played out in slow motion (when you are about to kill one of the bad guys) but I couldn't really understand what the developers were trying to achieve with this. If it had been used to show one of the bad guys being killed in a different and interesting way, then it would have been effective. As it is... you spend two minutes mashing bad guys, all of which die in similar ways, and then the action slows down so you can see another guy die exactly the same as the rest, but in slow motion. I just didn't see the point.

Another thing worth mentioning is the opening and ending theme music which is composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Academy Award winning composer on The Last Emperor. And very good it is too. It sets the scene nicely for the start of the game.

Fans of the movie and beat 'em up fanatics will be disappointed. It's such a shame because, with a little thought, this game could have been a winner - if only it had delivered what it promised.

Nick Smithson