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     " The decidedly theatrical style and awesome focus mode will keep fans of the genre happy, but the simplistic combat and short campaign won't have you coming back to it any time soon. "

      Title: Genji: Dawn of the Samurai by Sony

      Format: PS2 Action/Adventure

      Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult

      The Hype: Sony is prone to releasing little sleeper titles that hit shelves without much fanfare, but that tend to push the now-aging console to new heights. Their latest, Genji: Dawn of the Samurai, is an old Samurai flick come to life…but will it achieve the "gateless barrier" and slice the competition in two or fall victim to the horde of sword-slashing clones out there? Read on, my Monkeys, and find out.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: As with many titles on the PS2, the lighting and effects in Genji are well worth taking a moment to bask in, but the actual character models and animations land smack in the middle of the pack. They are pretty, without being impressive, interesting, without being particularly detailed, and smooth, without being complete. They are not displeasing by any stretch of the imagination, and do include some nice subtle touches, but just aren't anything that pushes the system to anywhere it hasn't been many times before. 3.5 out of 5

      Playability: Unquestionably inspired by the works of Kurosawa and Mifune, at it's heart Genji is really just a run and hack fest. You will constantly find yourself surrounded by gangs of enemies that require dispatching, which is handily done by the simple-but-entertaining button-mashing interface. Generally unremarkable, but definitely entertaining, the key to Genji's appeal comes with the combination of a very sensitive attack direction interface (which allows you to attack a guy in front, then behind, then to the left, then back in front smoothly) and an innovative focus ability…which allows you to periodically turn combat into a slowed rhythm system that rewards you for precisely executing attacks by dispatching all but the most stalwart enemies with a single slice. It is this mode, more than anything, that allows you to feel a part of a Samurai movie franchise and really gives Genji wings to rise above the myriad of similar-concept games out there.
          Not to be all praise, however, there are some notable irritants in Genji, most especially the excessively patterned (and infinitely frustrating) boss fights and lack of save points. This leads to more than a few situations where you will have painstakingly defeated a boss, after several attempts, and then have to redo it again because you died after before you could find a save point.
          It's frustrating, and will mean that you'll periodically swear the game off for a few days, but the goodness of the pure hack-n-slash will bring you back. 4 out of 5

      Story and Drama: As per it's movie heritage, there is a loose story in Genji told through abstract cut scenes and overly-dramatized character introductions, but you'll forget about it half-way through. The joy of Genji is slicing people in half, not dwelling in a hackneyed story about royal bloodlines that give people access to special magic and turn them into gods on the battlefield. 3 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: Sadly, there is no multiplayer in Genji, which is a shame since it does offer two playable characters that could have been turned into a phenomenal co-op opportunity. In terms of replayability, there are definitely pieces you will want to go back and replay, but all in all, its short campaign and simple combat means there's not enough to make you go back after you've beaten it the first time. 2 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       All in all, Genji: Dawn of the Samurai is a fun, though not particularly remarkable, game. The decidedly theatrical style and awesome focus mode will keep fans of the genre happy, but the simplistic combat and short campaign won't have you coming back to it any time soon.

      The Good: Great feel and focus mode

      The Bad: Short and Repetitive

      The Overall Ugly: Fun, though not particularly noteworthy.

      What it's Worth: Find it on sale.

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