Review: God Hand

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God Hand

System: PlayStation 2 :: Rating: Mature :: Players: 1

Genre: Beat-em-up :: Released: October 10, 2006

You have to admire a game like God Hand. It flaunts its goofy macho humour like it’s going out of style. In between beating up beefed up dudes and ladies you’ll be treated to goofy cutscenes, bizarre characters, and even the odd reference to internet memes and pop culture. It’s incredibly silly and brutally hard, but it all adds to the fun. God Hand never lets you forget that you’re playing a testosterone fuelled beat-em-up, even during breaks in the gameplay.

There isn’t much of a story to God Hand. You control the boisterous young Gene, who in an attempt to save a damsel in distress has his arm brutally sliced off. Luckily for Gene, the young lady he saves has the God Hand (well, God Arm technically), an all powerful limb that gives the owner the strength of a god. Unluckily for Gene, the young lady wants him to put this arm to use, by taking out the rising demon population who are plotting to take over the world. So off Gene goes (although somewhat unwillingly) to lay some major smackdown.

The controls for God Hand are certainly unique. Rather than taking the traditional beat-em-up route of moving in the direction you move the left stick, Gene rotates when the stick is pressed left and right and moves by pressing up or down. The whole time the camera sticks behind Gene’s back, spaced just far enough to see any surrounding enemies. If this sounds like an awkward of controlling a beat-em-up, it is, at least initially. But the more you play, the more the controls start to click and it becomes apparent that the game was made with this control scheme in mind. Besides, even with the tank like controls, Gene can dodge attacks with incredible ease. A quick flick left or right and Gene darts in that direction, backwards and gene back flips away, forwards gene ducks down low to dodge attacks from above. With a bit of practice, you’ll be dodging and darting around with ease, and you’ll need to.

Oh yes, God Hand is hard, sometimes painfully so. Enemies attack in packs, but the controls are better suited for tackling one enemy at a time. Because of this, you’ll have to be careful who you pick off, and you’ll need to keep a sharp eye on the radar that’s in the upper right hand corner of the screen. It’s the only way to track enemies that try to attack you from behind. There’s quite a range of enemies too, each with different attack patterns and weaknesses. God Hand forces you to constantly adapt to new attacks and situations, and when you don’t, the game over screen will never be far away.

But of course, all is not lost. Gene does of course, have the all powerful God Hand on his side. Beat up enough enemies, and you can temporarily turn Gene in to an invincible, quick and hard hitting badass. There’s also the roulette wheel, which allows you to temporarily slow down the action and use a powerful unblockable move from a list that pops up on the screen. This is refilled by collecting power ups stored in various pots and boxes found throughout each level. Gene’s move list is also fully customisable. You can buy new moves between levels, and set your current move set whenever you see fit. There’s a nice big list of punches and kicks available for you too, each having its own weaknesses and strengths, allowing you to build a move set that works for you.

Graphically God Hand is a mixed bag. Character models are detailed and vibrant, with some great animations. The camera is positioned just right to see enemies wince and stumble when you strike them and each of Gene’s attacks is detailed carefully. Enemies come in a range of shapes and sizes, and they all look great. It’s always fun to see a group of enemies in the distance, only to notice as you get closer that they’re doing a little synchronised dance while they wait for you. But environments are bland, flat and lifeless. After a while, it starts to detract from the fun, especially when you’re fighting a pack of enemies you’ve fought several times before.

The voice acting is very cheesy, and it fits perfectly in the world of God Hand. Every actor delivers their lines with a goofy bravado, knowing full well that their characters aren’t meant to be taken seriously. Cutscenes give the plot some basic direction, but are mainly there to show off some goofy humour. Enemies occasionally yell out catchphrases when they see you, and will let out the appropriate grunts and groans when getting beat up. The kickin surf rock music is the perfect background music for beating up baddies.

All in all God Hand does exactly what it sets out to do; create a fun challenging beat-em-up which isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself. It’s a fun game, even though it’s a little too long and repetitive, but if you’re looking for a solid beat-em-up you won’t have to look any further.

Score: 8.5/10

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Sorry bout that. Read this a couple days ago. I almost completely disagree on the score, but I've come to accept that God Hand is one of those games that polarizes people. Nonetheless, I thought you covered a lot for it being so concise, and the writing is very easy to follow.

Good stuff man.

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