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God Hand (PlayStation 2) artwork

God Hand (PlayStation 2) review


"All you do in God Hand is whoop ass. The game doesn’t make a big secret of this; hell, the box art is just a fist punching some guy’s face. Do you like whooping ass? If your answer is yes, then you’d best ignore the so-so reviews God Hand received from gaming critics and give it a whirl, as it is some of the best dumb fun you’ve had in awhile. Yes, that’s right, fun. None of those conceited terms like “depth” could be used in reference to God Hand, but it doesn’t matter, because it provid..."



All you do in God Hand is whoop ass. The game doesn’t make a big secret of this; hell, the box art is just a fist punching some guy’s face. Do you like whooping ass? If your answer is yes, then you’d best ignore the so-so reviews God Hand received from gaming critics and give it a whirl, as it is some of the best dumb fun you’ve had in awhile. Yes, that’s right, fun. None of those conceited terms like “depth” could be used in reference to God Hand, but it doesn’t matter, because it provides a whole lot of the f-word. And that’s what really matters, isn’t it?

God Hand does not take itself seriously. The game as a whole almost feels like an elaborate joke. The game has an atypically sharp sense of humor, and I personally had several laugh-out-loud moments: one of your special moves is a boot to your foe’s groin, accompanied by a canned laugh track. The first miniboss fight of the game is against a duo of “fabulously” flamboyant half-naked men. Gene, the player character, has a running animation which is obviously a sped-up version of his regular walk. Our smarmy protagonist has never found an insult he couldn’t one-up with his own cheesy retort, and said comebacks are the only things that ever come out of his mouth. It’s a lot like Resident Evil 4’s dialogue, but this time, it’s supposed to be funny.

And speaking of RE4, the movement and camera systems are exactly the same: the camera is always directly behind Gene, allowing the player a clear view of the ass-kickery 100% of the time. Think of God Hand as roundhouse kicking in RE4 expanded to a whole game. You’ve got punches, you’ve got your own roundhouses, you’ve got rolling kicks, you’ve got juggles, you’ve got an evasive backflip, and you can build up your God Hand meter for a few moments of invincibility. Your defenses are impregnable. Your style is impetuous. You are, quite simply, a god.

God Hand is in many ways a throwback to classic arcade beat-‘em-ups. You know those slutty chicks in leather who always showed up? They’re in full force here. Remember how you could always pick up pipes and swords and deal a ridiculous amount of damage with them? You can do that here too. Picking up fruit for health? Extremely straightforward level design? Cheesy battle cries from enemies? Check, check, check. When you first boot up the game, there’s no opening cutscene--just the title, “GOD HAND” and New Game, Load, Options. If at the beginning you feel like you jumped into the plot halfway through, it’s because you have. Remember the days when you had to read the instruction manual to get the full story? Yeah. God Hand’s even brought that back.

God Hand does attempt to modernize itself in a few ways. The game is far longer than the beat-‘em-ups of yore, and will last you upwards of 10 hours on the lowest difficulty. The amount of customization available to the player is unusual, too: by spending money at the game’s shop in between levels, you can get new techniques, special moves, and upgrades. The game gives you the ability to set up your own combo exactly as you please, which gives the game far more replay value than your average brawler. Tinker around with your moves, find the best combo you can, and just have--there’s that magic word again--fun.

There are many little touches to God Hand that elevate the game from goodness to greatness. Many of the special moves are ridiculous; for instance, using a baseball bat to knock your enemies into the stratosphere. Between levels, a 2D sprite of Gene runs across the screen to signify your progress--a brilliant nod to classic side-scrollers. As you get further into the game, you unlock pictures of love interest Olivia that serve no purpose at all other than to be there. If you didn’t look at the menu screen twice, you’d probably miss the option to see them. Occasionally, a defeated enemy will be revived in his demon form, accompanied by a darkened color palette and ominous music. These encounters are guaranteed to get your blood pumping, every time. The soundtrack is probably my favorite game music from 2006: an eclectic mixture of surf rock, techno, and J-pop, all of which is catchy as hell. This was clearly a labor of love on Capcom’s part.

You may do absolutely nothing in God Hand aside from beat guys up, but it’s hard to imagine that formula being executed much better. The only real flaws present in the game are those that can be held against the entire beat-‘em-up genre: it’s repetitive. Very much so. Oh, and the camera can be a bit of a nuisance at times. And the levels are extremely simple. But God Hand is so well-meaning and fun on the most basic level that you are no likely to care. Play the game, enjoy it, and have a few laughs. That’s all it aspires to, and that is exactly what it achieves.

Rating: 8/10

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Community review by phediuk (June 19, 2007)

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