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Preview: Devil Kings (PS2)

By Michael Palisano

Set in feudal Japan, Capcom's Devil Kings looks set to offer players a unique blend of fast hack and slash action along with deep strategic elements. While it looks similar in approach to other titles in the genre, Devil Kings has a number of unique features that set it apart from the pack. Each character will have a number of unique attacks that will allow them to inflict a massive amount of damage on enemies. The visuals are probably the most impressive aspect of Devil Kings with rich detailed graphics creating brilliant environments, silky smooth animations. The silky smooth controls, deep RPG elements and visceral gameplay should make Devil Kings an excellent title for fans of games based on historical military battles.

While Capcom has entered many different genres over the years, the strategic-combat genre has been one area that the company has overlooked. Rising up to challenge the likes of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the very promising Devil Kings looks like a solid entry into the genre from the company. As the game begins, players will be able to select from one of six different warriors who will then look to conquer rival factions and unify the warring states throughout the country behind their rule. The objective is to destroy as many foes as possible, conquer the entire country while earning your King their rightful place in history. The historical setting aside, at its heart, Devil Kings is a traditional hack and slash adventure with plenty of swordplay. One of the most impressive aspects of the game at this early stage is the sheer number of enemies that will attack the player, giving each battle an epic sweep. Surviving these battles will be difficult and you'll have to slash through tons of these foes in order to reach the next level. They battle ferociously and their relentless attacks will give each battle an intensity that will challenge players to be constantly aware of their surroundings. Each character in the game will have different set of abilities and weapons to choose from, giving them their own unique fighting styles with a unique set of moves, combos and special attacks. One of the more interesting aspects of the fighting system will allow players to unleash massive chain combos to defeat the rampaging armies with fewer button presses, while increasing the number of experience points earned.

At certain points during the battles, players will also be able to call on special attacks called 'Critical Moves' which can unleash a huge ball of fiery meteors onto the battlefields and destroy large groups of foes. These unleash a powerful burst of energy and color that bursts off the screen. However, players will spend the majority of their time battling standard enemies, with an abundance of traditional samurai warriors, as well as massive boss characters. They'll attack you with swords and knives, as expected, but some also use machine guns and other mechanized weapons against you, which should give Devil Kings a unique blend of styles. As you defeat enemies, your character will earn experience points which can then be used to upgrade your attributes later in the game. You'll also find a number of chests that contain power-ups and other items, with more than 80 unique items available in the game. When your character reaches certain levels, you'll be able to unlock additional items and areas as well. As players enhance and upgrade their warriors, it will up to tem to find their own paths to victory. These features should help give Devil Kings' gameplay a dose of role-playing while not impeding on the action-packed gameplay while giving it a somewhat authentic feel and orientation that should please fans of historical Japanese titles.

There will be several different characters available initially, but more can be unlocked as you progress through the levels. Each character in Devil Kings will have a unique signature move, including the ability to hold up to six swords at once, which should make them incredibly powerful adversaries. These power-ups will allow players to slice through their foes at incredible speeds, allowing them to progress through the enemy factions almost effortlessly. The sheer number of standard enemies, combined with some impressive boss battles should make Devil Kings a more exciting and action packed title than most players expect from the historical military genre. Battles will unfold at a frenetic pace, with dozens simultaneous attacks that make split-second reactions and moves essential to survival. This approach should appeal to action gamers, while there should be enough depth to make Devil Kings a satisfying experience for gamers looking for something with some replay value.

Devil Kings will transport players to feudal Japan, and recreates the feel of the era effectively thanks to the incredible graphics. The levels are looking quite expansive, with open ended environments in a variety of locales ranging from ancient temples to beautiful forests that show an impressive amount of detail and realism throughout. The character designs look fantastic, with imaginative, yet grounded renders of the six devil kings, clever enemy designs and animations that should reflect each character's powers and personality. The special effects also look impressive, particularly the game's surreal implementation of the Critical Moves, which literally explode off the screen. From an aesthetic standpoint, the game looks fantastic, with brilliant light-sourcing and shadows used to give Devil Kings an outstanding sense of realism. Capcom will implement a behind the character cinematic approach allows you to see a full view of the action without feeling too-far removed from the battlefield.

While there have been quite a few military themed titles set in ancient Japan over the past few years, Devil Kings' emphasis on action, mix of styles and deep role-playing elements should seperate it from the pack of similar titles. An interesting combination of fantasy and mystical elements keep it from being a strictly realistic military game, but the tactical elements of each battle should provide the depth fans of the genre are looking for. The smooth production values, imaginative character design and intense gameplay should make Devil Kings one of the more promising titles still to come on the PS2 over the next year. Players looking for something unique and challenging should definitely keep on eye on Devil Kings as development progresses.

Devil Kings

Publisher: Capcom 
Developer: Capcom 
Genre: Action/Fighting 
Platform: PS2 
Release Date: 2006


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