Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers

The Saint Seiya series of videogames is a bit of an oddball. Having made its UK debut on the PlayStation 2 with Saint Seiya: The Sanctuary, a videogame praised for it’s fluid combat system, many were surprised when the sequel also made it’s way to […]
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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre ImageThe Saint Seiya series of videogames is a bit of an oddball. Having made its UK debut on the PlayStation 2 with Saint Seiya: The Sanctuary, a videogame praised for it’s fluid combat system, many were surprised when the sequel also made it’s way to Europe in 2006 and later Saint Seiya: Sanctuary Battle on PlayStation 3. Here, as the current console generation reaches its twilight years, Namco Bandai Games once again holds enough confidence to bring a new Saint Seiya videogame to a mainstream audience, again exclusive to the current PlayStation format.

It’s widely accepted that Saint Seiya is more popular in continental Europe than here in the UK, so you’d be forgiven for not knowing a huge amount about the franchise. Strictly speaking, you needn’t have any prior knowledge before jumping into Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers as the videogames does a good job of adapting all three of the major arcs from the original Electronic Theatre Imagemanga: Twelve Temples, Poseidon arc and Hades. The localisation occasionally throws out a few questionable moments, but generally speaking players will be able to get behind the eighty eight warriors known as the Saints and entertain battle knowing the whys and wherefores of each new bout.

There could be many reasons that Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers is more faithful to the original storyline than previous titles, but some would surely suggest that part of the reason is due to a change in development studio. This latest adaptation sees  CyberConnect2 take over the reigns from Dimps, with the team behind the critically acclaimed Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja handling the development. This could well be the reason that Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers’ animated sequences so closely represent the original anime, and is most definitely the reason that the combat system feels familiar.

Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers makes use of the foreground centric camera system championed by the recent releases from the Dragon Ball Z videogame franchise. Designed to demonstrate a greater sense of distance between fighters the Electronic Theatre Imagecamera has seen some wonderful execution, including in the Nintendo 3DS edition of Super Street Fighter IV. However here in Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers it feels a little confused, as it no longer follows the player character. Instead it will simply focus on whichever character happens to be closest to the camera’s current position, frequently leaving you at a disadvantage as you stand on the distance and attempt to asses your next move. It’s an interesting idea but one which is heavily flawed; an assessment which you might hope was made during playtesting and before the videogame had entered into full production.

Of course, with such a hindrance right at its very core it can be tiresome to truly get the most out of Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers, but once you’ve grasped the basics there is rewarding gameplay on offer. The specials meter which previous Saint Seiya Electronic Theatre Imagetitles have relied upon heavily has been downgraded significantly and is consumed by both basic projectile attacks and full blown specials. The player will receive automatic increases as they land or receive damaging blows, but they can also manually boost the income simply by holding both the L2 and R2 triggers. This creates a risk/reward system that anyone can grasp and yet only skilful players can exploit to its fullest: timing is crucial in Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers, and while a special can turn the tide of a fight, leaving yourself vulnerable for too long can be even more damaging.

In addition to the core story mode Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers offers customised battles and online gameplay, the latter of which is undoubtedly one of the videogame’s greatest strengths. Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers is at it’s best when played between two similarly skilled human opponents, andElectronic Theatre Image while finding such competition isn’t easy at present it’s likely to become more common after the videogame has been on retail shelves for a few weeks, especially given that Namco Bandai Games Europe are preparing to give it a surprisingly well rounded push through physical and digital stores.

In an effort to increase the lifespan of Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers Namco Bandai Games has added the all new Orb mode into the videogame. Essentially an opportunity to customise your favourite characters through increasing their abilities, Orbs work in a similar fashion to the gems from Street Fighter X Tekken. Players can purchase Orbs in-game but also be awarded them through online promotions and giveaways. Exactly howElectronic Theatre Image such additions will come to fruition is not known but ising Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers as a testing ground for the mechanic before rolling it out in bigger titles is undoubtedly a shrewd move on behalf of the publisher.

Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers looks fantastic, with solid character models and smooth animation bringing to life the 2D drawings that set the scene. It’s not about to rival too tier productions but every inch of Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers’ visual design is well thought out and complimentary to the universe. The lack of any localised voice acting is disappointing, but given the considerably low budget that the videogame would most likely have had to deal with in its PAL iteration is Electronic Theatre Imageunderstandable. The loading times before each fight however, are not so easy to forgive.

A disappointment in general, Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers is a videogame that reached for greatness and achieved mediocrity. It’s combat system is flawed at it’s core so it was always going to be difficult to build a beat-‘em-up experience that would compete with the best the genre has to offer, but Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers simply stumbles far too many times to be taken seriously. There’s enough content here to pleases fans of the franchise and those with likeminded friends will likely have fun online, but when sat next to the likes of the recently released Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 – Full Burst CyberConnect2’s Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers will struggle to convince games it’s worthy if their investment.

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