Review written by ign.com
I was never that tough in school. Especially in
middle school – It wasn't unusual for me
to be pulled aside by a couple of Calvin and Hobbes-esque
bullies and beaten like a red-headed step-child
for my juice money. Sure, a few atomic wedgies,
toilet swirlies, and wet Willy sessions later
and I'd be free to go. It wasn't the lack of juice
at lunch that hurt the most – It was the
disrespect. Or was it the atomic wedgies...?
Anyways, if there's one life-lesson
that I've learned from the action-slasher Berserk,
it's that when people get in your way, the best
thing you can do is pull out your six foot long
sword and hack them into pulp. It's this exact
no-nonsense, no-$*%#-taking attitude that gets
one-eyed bad ass Gatsu through his days with
sanity intact, and I think we all have a thing
or two to learn from him.
Upon first playing Yukes and
Eidos' Berserk I was overcome with great feelings
of giddiness and joy. It's not every day that
I get to ruthlessly slaughter wave after wave
of evil with a man-sized sword – And all
the good stuff is there, too. Enemies are impaled,
sliced in half, split vertically, and gored
with no small amount of blood coming from their
ripe, fleshy bodies. Yes, this is really about
all there is to the gameplay, but is that really
so bad? Everyone expects their games to be so
elaborate these days, with all of your RPGs,
in-depth action games, genre busters, adventures,
etc... Where did the good, old fashioned mindless
killing go? My guess is Yukes has been hoarding
it all, and this game is the result of its release.
In Berserk, we get senseless
violence at its best. Not only do players get
to gore dozens of enemies repeatedly, but there
are plenty of niceties layered on to add extra
spice to the experience. The environments are
varied, the enemies are interesting and well-designed,
the characters are cool and there's actually
a pretty ambitious storyline. Something about
some virus that turns people into dangerous
zombies. Or something. I dunno, but there's
killing. And blood. None of this green "mutant"
nonsense, either. I'm talking about the good
stuff. Red blood.
And boy, does it flow freely.
Perhaps the only thing more abundant in SotB
is the game's storyline, which has to be one
of the most engrossing, entertaining plot lines
we've ever seen. Nearly two-third of Guts' Rage
takes place in in-game cinemas, and it is all
so incredibly well put together, you sometime
forget you're not watching an episode of the
classic anime. Granted, I was so into the action
that I often found myself waiting for the cast
of characters to "get on with it"
so I could get back to the madness, but if you
have a bit longer attention span than myself,
you may enjoy sitting through the game's seemingly
hours of cut scenes. However, some people may
get bored and frustrated that their killing
has been interrupted for more than a few moments.
But that's not really a good gripe, as the cut
scenes can be negated if you don't care at all
about the storyline.
I, for one, was ready to get
back to the slashin'. There's just a tad bit
of method to the madness when it comes to mercilessly
goring multiple enemies. While button mashing
may be a viable tactic for Berserk, it's certainly
not unreasonable to be a bit more tactful. The
killing system is simple, but very effective.
You have two attack buttons, one for slashing
horizontally and one vertically. Obviously,
a number of wacked out combos are available
by completing various button sequences, but
it doesn't stop there. Gatsu can also do the
ol' charge-and-release for a particularly devastating
combo, as well as a few possible aerial attacks
and combos. The game makes it very easy for
players to perform impressive combinations and
devastating one-two blows – Some of which
hurt just to watch. It's good to see that the
controls aren't overly conceived, but are given
the correct balance of finesse and total uncouth
Virginia-style sword slingin', a blend that
keeps the fighting interesting throughout the
course of the game. The additional weapons thrown
into the fray, arrows and bombs, mix the action
up a bit while maintaining a good overall balance.
Armed with all of these abilities and provided
that the player is anything but completely inept,
the result is always the same – A screen
full of blood. But that's not a bad thing at
Especially not with the way
this game manages to splash it around. Gore
has never looked this good before. The graphics
in Berserk are top-tier, comparable to or better
than just about anything currently on the market.
Characters, enemies, and scenery are incredibly
detailed, maintaining a consistently smooth
framerate throughout. Some of the larger enemies
and boss characters are simply stunning –
One such foe is a large, demon-like flying dude.
Not only is this thing absolutely mammoth, but
also has a whole slew of incredibly intimidating
attacks and animations perfect for ruining even
the most resilient of boxer shorts. When SotB
sets its mind to filling up the screen with
an intimidating bit of opposition, it tends
o pull it off with class.
And the same could be said of
Eidos' localization of the title. The voice
acting for the American port of Berserk is in
a league all its own. Instead of the usual deal
that sounds like a few programmers and their
family members reading things lifelessly off
of paper, we get dramatic, professional level
acting and vocal talent. The voice over team
couldn't have been assembled better, and includes
a variety of hard-core actors, including talent
from Eek! The Cat and Disney's Beauty And The
Beast, and the over-all level of quality really
shines through in the aforementioned cut-scenes.
But the game is not without
it's problems. Sometimes it just seems like
thing can get a little too out of hand for the
game's engine to keep up. While the largeness
of your sword is inherent to the gameplay, there
are a few occasions when this becomes an issue.
For instance, combating enemies on a narrow
stair well: The player is forced to take numerous
hits while his sword gets caught up on the accompanying
walls. The weapon is so long that swinging it
near a wall usually results in the sword hitting
the wall, thus halting any follow through. This
is a mild oversight that may frustrate some
gamers, but, thankfully, only becomes a gameplay
issue but a couple of times throughout the course
of the game.
If you can get past this fact,
however, the game really has a lot to offer
hardcore action freaks. Sword of the Berserk,
when taken for what it is, is virtually perfect.
It wasn't intended to be anything more than
an intense slasher, and that's exactly what
it is. The gameplay is solid, and all of the
production values are sickeningly well done.
The only thing I can think of that's even mildly
flawed is the occasional bad camera angle –
But this is very workable, and not a large inconvenience.
I'd also like to have seen some two-player action,
but hey, that's just me getting greedy.
Berserk is a terrific slasher.
If you grow weary of action games that lack
any real punch when it comes to the story, if
slaughtering hordes of enemies with hardly a
chance to catch your breath sounds like your
idea of fun, then this is just the game for
you. If, on the other hand, you absolutely must
have depth and technical perfection, you may
want to rent this one first.
-- Matt White, berserker rage
The only bad thing we could say here is
the game is also too heavy on the presentation.
Thankfully, the artistic values are so
well done, it really comes off as an experience.
Definitely this slack-jawed yokel's idea
of a feast fer the eyes. Incredible animation,
and lots of things happening at all times,
but we still get a good level of detail
and a rock solid framerate.
Mind blowing! Not only are the voice-overs
arguably the best to be heard on the Dreamcast,
but the music is excellent and the sound
effects are appropriately tasty.
Bludgeoning people, monsters, and crawly
things with a larger-than-life sword. Yummy.
The game isn't particularly long, but it's
quite challenging. There are also some unlockable
(out of 10 / not an average)