Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers review


Lather, rinse, repeat is a mantra that should be kept firmly pasted to the back of shampoo bottles. It’s got no place outside of a bathroom, and certainly no place in a Japanese 3D fighter – but alas Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers appears to have been built with Herbal Essences in mind.

All its problems are combat-related.[1] A limited repertoire of moves means hours of endlessly stringing together the same two or three combos: dash in to attack, land five hits, knock opponent to opposite end of the arena. Lather, rinse, repeat. Then, with a flick of R1, flt around your opponent and engage a string of counter blows at any time. Or, more accurately, shuffle round the ring waiting for the witless CPU to make a move – like some kind of psychotic pre-pubescent desperately hoping for a school dance partner – just so you can dodge round the back and give them a good slap (on that note I’m sorry for Whitley Bay, Zack.)

Still, a good narrative could have saved Saint Seiya from bargain bin oblivion – after all, it’s based on one of the most popular manga series of all time. So it’s with a sad and shaking head that I say: “Alas, the plot is also a bit pantaloons.” Over 50 characters and three confusing story modes mean that this is a title that can only really be enjoyed by hardcore fans of the original 80’s series.[2]

It all adds up to a game that’s definitely for specialist tastes – something WH Smith would keep behind the counter and you’d have to ask for. And when the cashier gives you a look of scathing disapproval for doing so, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Rating: 4/10

First published in issue #093 Official PlayStation Magazine UK

[1] Which, when you think about it, is a pretty big problem for a fighting game. [2] The original manga ran from 1986 to 1991 in Japan. In the West it’s known as Knight’s of the Zodiac.


Review: Elysium


In the elitist universe of sci-fi thriller Elysium, William Blake’s prophecy has come to pass and then some. Not only has mankind built a heaven in hell’s despair, they’ve privatised it.

Director Neil Blompkamp’s newest project after District 9 sees Earth as a toxic dustbowl, choking underneath the ultimate gated community that hangs in the sky above. This is a place where eternal life machines come thrown in with the fitted kitchen, yet frustratingly, this is the only glimpse we get into the elitist colony of Stepford creeps.

Instead our perspective is limited to nuclear factory worker Max (Matt Damon) who, after being exposed to a lethal dose of radiation, does what any sensible person would do. He finds a man living in a garage that looks like a half-tumbled jenga tower and gets him to fuse a tonne of steel to his spine with a bone saw.

Trouble is, now strong as an automated ox, Max spends the rest of the film making loud explosions and having macho face-offs with a hulking powerhouse called “Kruger”. Within minutes, the film devolves from a startlingly brilliant apartheid parable to a popcorn drooling firefight that could be a scene from almost any Hollywood action flick.

Any questions you may have about this fascinating world are brushed aside in favour of blockbuster bust-ups. Elysium, with its giant wheel-shaped structure, could easily have reinvented itself. Instead it settles for Hollywood mediocrity, challenging audiences not with satire, but with the frustrating sense that, despite its unique premise, you’ve seen it all before.  

First published in issue #093 of Official PlayStation Magazine UK

Rainbow Moon Review


To say that Rainbow Moon is addictive is like saying plants photosynthesise because of the sun. Indeed, when yet another celebrity announces their return to rehab, I think “it’s just as well you have never been in Thief Citadel trying to deliver a package of imp wings to Cassar Village. Then, my friend, you would know true craving.”

A retro-style RPG with beautifully modern graphics, Rainbow Moon perfectly combines the old with the new. Our hero, Baldren, is a mute warrior (of course he is) who wakes up on the wrong side of a dimensional portal after having unintentionally released a horde of bloodthirsty monsters into an otherwise peaceful world. The locals are understandably miffed, and Baldren needs to scarper back to his world sharpish.

That’s about as much story as you get, but weak narrative is more than compensated for by the game’s fast-paced tactical combat and addictive stat-based levelling. Battles are turn-based, but well-designed so that the experience becomes more about masterminding strategy than dully waiting for your go to swing a sword. Each defeated enemy drops a pearl that can be used by Baldren’s party to level up, meaning the more battles you enter the quicker you improve and the more you want to whoop some Lvl8 Stone Golem butt.[1]

Attention to detail is a huge strong point of this compelling RPG, with beautiful landscapes, epic music and nuanced customisation ensuring that you stay hooked throughout its endless gameplay[2]. So while you unfortunately won’t find a pot of gold at the end of Rainbow Moon, you’ll be inundated with gems along every step of the adventure towards it.

Rating: 8/10

First printed in Issue #093 of Official Playstation Magazine UK

[1] A nifty feature, however, is that you can choose your encounters, making zubat-esque bombardment a thing of the past.

[2]And I really do mean endless, we’re talking a 100+ hour completion time here.