Fighting games often make me feel like I’m completely out of my element. I’ve played them since I was in elementary school, but I don’t feel like I’m the master of any particular fighting franchise. Furthermore, my fighting comfort zone consists of Mortal Kombat, Dead or Alive, and Soul Calibur, so when I sat down to play Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny at an Ignition event in NYC last week, I didn’t know what to expect or what I wanted to see. Edge of Destiny is the eleventh game in the series, which has been around for over 15 years, but I honestly am not sure if I have ever played a Samurai Shodown game. Despite my uncertainty, I went in with an open mind, playing a few rounds and slicing off some limbs.
While the game itself is 3D, the menus are presented in a beautiful, hand-drawn art style. I was told that about half of the characters are returning, with half being brand new contenders from around the world. As such, the fighting will be moving out of Japan and taking place in various cities across the globe. There is a lot going on within each setting, with people in the background cheering on the fighters and animals wandering the streets. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any interactivity with the environments, which is kind of a shame. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is something I have come to enjoy in fighting games, like those dinosaurs that run past and sometimes knock you down in Dead or Alive 4. That extra element really would have made Edge of Destiny more distinctive.
What does make this game stand out are the over-the-top, super violent ways to disembowel your opponent. Limbs can be chopped off, and at one point I cut the opposing fighter right in half. All you see is a whole lot of red blood, so it’s not that disturbing, but it is kind of amusing. Since many of the weapons in Edge of Destiny are huge swords, it’s good to see that you can do some real damage with them. I found the controls easy enough to figure out, although since this was an early build of the arcade port, some of the button combinations prompted onscreen didn’t actually exist on the 360 controller. I’m sure that will be fixed, though, as Edge of Destiny is still a work in progress, as I was assured. Fighting game vets will have no problem figuring this one out, and though I’m more about furious button smashing than memorizing move combos, I still managed to rack up a few victories.
The simplest way for me to describe Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny, as a non-fighting game afficianado, is that it’s both pretty and bloody. There are some nicely drawn visuals and character art on the menu, but once you get into battle, you’ll be too busy trying to decapitate your opponent to notice anything else. For lovers of the Samurai Shodown mythology, I’m sure this 360 exclusive will be right up your alley. However, for more casual fighting game players, this game is not quite distinctive enough to warrant a full retail purchase.