Archive for August, 2009

Ninja Theory Has Three Game Deal With Namco Bandai

Posted in Ninja Theory with tags , , , on August 23, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

According to Gameplayer.com.au, Ninja Theory has signed a three game deal with Namco Bandai.

Ninja Theory

Namco Bandai signs Heavenly Sword developer Ninja Theory to a three game deal

Hopefully the game will be revealed in the near future along with more news, stay tuned!

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Namco Bandai Games America teams up with Ninja Theory

Posted in Ninja Theory with tags , , , on August 19, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

Namco & Ninja Theory

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NAMCO BANDAI GAMES AMERICA TEAMS UP WITH UK-BASED
NINJA THEORY ON NEXT-GEN PROJECT

COLOGNE, Germany (Aug. 19, 2009) – Today at gamescom, NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. announced its partnership with UK-based video game developer Ninja Theory Ltd. to publish a next-generation title for the PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment system and the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft. The title, an original new IP, will be released in 2010 and more details on the game will be divulged in the coming months.

Ninja Theory Ltd., is a video game developer based in Cambridge, UK and creators of the visually stunning, critically acclaimed PLAYSTATION 3 system exclusive title, Heavenly Sword™.

“Ninja Theory’s first title exemplified their incredible talent and ability to deliver a high-quality, cinematic and captivating gameplay experience,” said Makoto Iwai, executive vice president and chief operating officer at NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc. “With producers from our North American office working closely with such a strong European development studio, we will be able to create a blockbuster title with strong pan-Western sensibilities and appeal for a global gaming audience.”

“This new project pushes our core strengths of rich story-telling, cutting-edge technology and exciting gameplay beyond anything we have created before,” said Nina Kristensen, co-founder and chief development ninja, Ninja Theory Ltd. “The support of NAMCO BANDAI combined with the skills and talent we have nurtured over the years means that players are going to be in for a truly deep and memorable experience.”

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Top 10 voice actors/actresses of this generation

Posted in Heavenly Sword with tags , , , , on August 14, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

Anna and Lydia at Number 6!
Nariko/Kai

Lydia Baksh/Anna Torv

I doubt you have heard of Lydia Baksh or Anna Torv, even if you have played the game they were in. Lydia Baksh was Kai in Heavenly Sword and Anna Torv was Nariko. I didn’t want to leave one of these out of the list because they both done a fantastic job, Hell all of the voice acting in Heavenly Sword is incredible. Lydia Baksh was what made Kai. Kai was a very fun character; she enjoyed playing games revolving around killing the enemy but was always very humorous. Lydia Baksh’s voice work made Kai even more fun than she would have been with a normal voice. She managed to convey many emotions behind Kai. You really felt for her at certain times and like I just said she added humour too. Anna Torv also did a fantastic voice job. She made Nariko the character she was. She was able to convey the anger that Nariko had against the enemy really well and you could feel genuine rage. In the fight against Whiptail, Nariko mocks Whiptail and the voice there had a very different tone but it was performed excellently and I needed to mention it here. Both actresses done a fantastic job at conveying the emotions behind their characters and helped make the game what it is. It’s just a shame they aren’t in anything else.

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The 33 Best PS3 Games – 2009 Edition

Posted in Heavenly Sword with tags , , , on August 13, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

Nariko in combat

32. Heavenly Sword

Why It’s Great: Call it Goddess of War if you like but Heavenly Sword has a flair all its own. Chronicling the adventure of the deadly but beautiful Nariko and a cursed blade, Heavenly Sword was one of the earliest hits for the PS3, an action packed title that helped demonstrate what the hardware was capable of. With superb character animation work by WETA Digital-the same folks who worked on The Lord of The Rings-Heavenly Sword was an impressive sign of things to come.

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Top 5 Under Appreciated Playstation 3 Titles

Posted in Heavenly Sword with tags , , , , on August 10, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

Nariko
2) Heavenly Sword – Any action/adventure fan worth his salt knows of Dante, Kratos, and Ryu Hyabusa, but not many know of the red-headed femme fatale known as Nariko from Ninja Theory’s epic Heavenly Sword.

On the story front, the game follows the tale of young Nariko, who has been burdened with the task of protecting the godly weapon the Heavenly Sword from evil King Bohan and his army. In desperation, she weilds the sword, sealing her fate as it begins to eat away at her life force. The game is pure action and combat, with a three stance based fighting system, where moves can be chained into one another and stances switched on the fly for varied, seemless combat.

The visuals are absolutely stunning, and the story is both humorous, dramatic, and touching, with amazing motion capture and facial animation, and performances by the entire cast, in particular Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) as King Bohan, and Anna Torv (Fringe) as Nariko. The combat is visceral, satisfying, and overall fun to play. The game was inexplicably lombasted by the media, killing any hopes of a sequel, but the story is self contained and concludes in a way that, despite leaving plenty of room for a sequel, is complete nontheless. A must have for action/adventure fans.

Rhianna Pratchett Talks Heavenly Sword

Posted in Heavenly Sword with tags , , , , on August 7, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

Rhianna Pratchett

The character of Kai in Heavenly Sword is unconventional and eccentric — a lot of that is conveyed through her animation and character design as well as her dialogue. Can you talk about that interplay?

RP: Kai’s visuals came first and then it was all about breathing life and motion into her avatar. We wanted her to be quite feline and playful in her movements as a contrast to the heavy brutality going on around her and her subsequent detachment from it all. That’s also a sense that she may be cavorting with, or even speaking directly to, something that can only be seen by her.

It’s always tricky when you’re dealing with a younger character (although Kai’s mental state is a fair bit younger than her physical state) that they don’t become annoying. There’s a fine line between cute and weird and just plain irritating. I think it actually helped us that we didn’t use a child actor to play her. Given that she’s actually pretty violent, it could have been… complicated.

Kai was probably the most challenging role in the game and consequently I spent quite a while talking to Lydia Basksh (the actress who both voiced and acted Kai) about the character, her past and her journey during the game.

Lydia was able to capture Kai’s layers brilliantly; her resilience, determination to hold onto lost innocence and her sheer devotion to her adopted sister, Nariko. I’ve always maintained that in some ways Heavenly Sword is a love story. It’s just not a love story about a boy and girl, but one about sibling love.

Heavenly Sword

And can you talk about the storytelling functions of characters that are left-of center in game stories?
RP: What I think worked well for Heavenly Sword was that from a narrative point of view, we didn’t waste characters. We had a small cast but they were all tightly wound into each other’s lives. One of the themes of the game was about the sometimes screwed-up nature of familial relationships. Initially it was demonstrated through Nariko’s relationship with Shen, as both daughter/father and student/teacher, and her bond with Kai.

It’s then reflected and distorted in Bohan’s volatile (and equally problematic) relationship with his son Roach and the childish machinations of his generals, Whiptail and Flying Fox. In Whiptail’s case she is instrumental in sending the relationship between Nariko and Shen spinning out of control, tearing the two characters apart, whilst Flying Fox is a predominant player in Kai’s story.

I think NPCs (although Kai was a lot more than that) can be vitally important for highlighting story themes and important traits in both protagonists and antagonists. They really are the narrative pillars of a game world.

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Resurrection | Heavenly Sword

Posted in Heavenly Sword with tags , , , , on August 4, 2009 by HeavenlyNariko

Nariko
Heavenly Sword was released back in September 2007, six months after the release of the PS3 console. It was a highly anticipated game for PS3 owners due to the promise of cinematic storytelling and action, as well as its format-exclusive status. The crop of PS3 exclusives was, at that time, somewhat limited – and with developers pulling out of exclusivity deals left, right, and centre, Heavenly Sword was considered a rare opportunity to own something that the Xbox360 crowd would miss out on.

The cinematic promise was met head on by Heavenly Sword, delivering exactly that, but many found the game lacking compared to the hype that had surrounded its release. The reality is, Heavenly Sword did achieve what it set out to do, but having being chopped down from the originally planned trilogy, the game was left suffering slightly from not having too definitive a structure.

Though it received mostly positive reviews ad reasonable sales, the game never really captured much attention. This could well have been down to the timing, released only shortly after the Xbox360 Elite model and only shortly before the release of the more hotly anticipated release of Halo 3, moving the spotlight firmly onto the Microsoft crowd.

Playing primarily as Nariko, daughter of a warrior clan leader, Heavenly sword sees you hacking and slashing your way through a highly imaginative and immersive story. The concept is simple – hack up all the enemies on screen, kill a boss, rinse and repeat. But what Heavenly Sword does is add little slices of brilliance to an already tried-and-tested formula to create an experience seldom seen in other games of similar substance. Using the Sixaxis control system of the PS3 to guide cannons and arrows to their targets is a particularly memorable section – a very simple yet clever and enjoyable way of using the control mechanism, and fabulous fun to replay.

//The creation of beauty
Roach
What really makes Heavenly Sword so captivating is the story, and the characters you meet whilst working through it, along with the cinematic approach to the narrative. The voice acting is brilliant, the script flows and the story is driven along with out having to be pushed or pulled. It all smoothly glides form one level to the next, helped along by some of the most awe-inspiring cut scenes you’re ever likely to witness. Facial expressions are captured phenomenally by Heavenly Sword, everything is bright and crisp to look at, and the characters are truly brought to life by their brilliantly delivered dialogue. One of the most astounding achievements of the whole game is how much of a presence each character has. We are all familiar with how actors can own the stage in plays and films, but often in games this is harder to pull off. In Heavenly Sword, however, each actor demands your attention; the dramatic direction from Andy Serkis and the filmic quality of the scripted sequences ensures their presence is appreciated.

Interestingly, characters in Heavenly Sword share similar physical characteristics with their voice actor counterparts as far as facial animation is concerned. Motion capturing was used to translate movement into the game with great effect, and the characters’ faces give away the actor behind the proverbial mask. Nariko is played by Anna Torv, well known for her role as FBI agent Olivia Dunham on the TV series Fringe. The in-game character Nariko is a perfect digital representation of Torv – the resemblance is astounding, and further demonstrates the attention to detail with regards to the overall presentation.

The story draws players in with all the above tools and with its accessible humour, most memorably emerging from the relationship between King Bohan and Roach. The whole thing often seems more like a film than a game, but it still maintains its playability. The comparison between the two media is all too common, but it’s fantastic to see a games developer showing film directors how it’s done, rather than the other way around.

The story may be short and the combat occasionally tedious, but it doesn’t damage the enjoyment of playing the game. That’s because Heavenly Sword isn’t about playing a game. It’s mostly about experiencing a narrative.

It’s representative of what games seem to be evolving into: works of art. Few other titles provide the player with such beautifully crafted storytelling, presentation and entertainment. Still one of the strongest games on the PS3, Heavenly Sword is a true Hollywood blockbuster, in game form.

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