The Cursed Crusade (PS3)
Also on: PC, X360
The Cursed Crusade is an action/beat’em up title that got some airtime. The game looked cool. It had all the components to make a awesome title. Sadly, it fell short. With a story that didn’t really kick off, wonky camera angles, boring combat and characters lacking in personality I was disappointed with this ATLUS published title. However, I have played worse.
You take on the role of “Benz” a man who is cursed and damned to hell because of the sins his family has made. His father was on the way to curing the curse until some unsavory people decided to get in the way. However, he is not alone in sharing this curse. A Spanish individual with a habit of finding trouble befriends Benz and is roped in on a quest to find a cure for the curse that with inevitably end their souls to hell.
You go through various places in Europe searching for Benz’s father who ay have the answers. However, the object quickly changes to other individuals that I will not name for spoiler’s sake. The game is called, “Cursed Crusade” so obviously this is a religious quest of justified mass murder. For those of you that do not know what the Crusades were they were long journeys that took place from city to city purifying those who were godless. If the people resisted they were killed. Simple as that. Taking on the role of a Templar is the logical choice for this matter.
That’s the story in a nutshell and I don’t have that much of a problem with it because I have no religion, but it looks great on paper. It takes more than an idea to make something entertaining and the lack of good characters made this difficult to swallow. Poor execution I guess, many games succumb to this recurring trend these days.
This game does not feel finished. The level design, combo system, and the lack of stuff to do makes this shine like the sun through a break in the clouds. I first want to talk about the combat system as it was among the most frustrating. This is a button masher of Square and Triangle (X and Y for 360). One represents horizontal attacks (fast and weak) and vertical attacks (slower more powerful). Every weapon has their own combo tree that you must unlock with Victory Points. VP are rewarded after a mission a minimum of 4 is awarded and when you fulfill collecting missions like finding chests or purifying lost souls. There is also a large amount of weaponry to choose from. Anything from dual wielding axes, swords and maces. To shield combos of spears, swords, axes, and maces. Two handed weapons are also available. While the range is vast there is no real strategy to pick what you want when on the field. You usually just pick up what isn’t broken and go from there. While maces are good against armor and swords are good against flesh you never seem to see a difference.
These combos are simplistic but once you find one combo that is all you will do. Sure you can guard break, dodge and block you never really seem to use them. Blocking is only useful with a shield or it degrades your weapon like crazy. The combat feels like it is missing something. Despite the fact you can do finishing moves you see the same ones so many times it is incredibly boring at times and you just want to continue on with the fight. Weapons break at inopportune times and it becomes a hassle to find a new one when the weapons disappear quickly. This is all leading up to the worst part about Cursed Crusade, the camera. The camera is so bad in this game it nearly made it unplayable near the end. In some places it is fixed and in other places you can move it but it is stuck in a birds eye view. This makes it difficult to see enemies, fight them, and find other goodies like those chests that serve almost no purpose. There is one boss fight near the end of the game I wanted to stop playing because the forced lock on system and bad camera made it nearly impossible for me to do what I needed to do
There are two styles of gameplay, one is in the real world and the other is in hell where the curse takes over. These, Nightmare stages, are supposed to break up the monotony of the standard way to play and it replaces the standard enemies with souls who need to be purified with your holy fire. Their easy to kill nature gives them the ability to gang up on you if left unnoticed. In the Nightmare stages you must escape Death himself and it often ends with a boss fight against Death. These levels are short and tedious and I did not like them at all. The look of them was injuring my eyes with all the fire, orange and black. While it is supposed to simulate hell I am already forced to go in and out of my cursed form to find hidden items and souls in the core gameplay I don’t want whole levels like that as well.
Weapon combos are not the only thing you level up. Your character has a few skills, like strength, constitution, armor mastery, weapon mastery, and curse proficiency. Leveling these up have different effects like strength will make you more powerful, weapon proficiency will make weapons last longer and not break often (sort of) and armor mastery gives you more armor. Because the mechanics of armor is portrayed somewhat correctly in this game armor protects your skin and you will not take damage until a piece of your armor breaks. So having more armor protects you. I believe in one playthrough you can max out three or four of these skills.
The level design is cluttered and seems like everything is one color. This makes the locations boring to look at and the in some cases makes it incredibly difficult to find out where you are going (the camera also makes this difficult). Minus the tedious collecting in the bland levels there is nothing much else to do but go from level to level meticulously killing everything in your path. It is acceptable at first, but by chapter three you just want a change in pace. While this game is far from terrible, it is by no means a great game. It is mediocre at best. I give The Cursed Crusade a