Clover Studio was unfortunately closed by Capcom late last year despite making some of the most original games around. The problem was that Clover games were not the most popular on the market and carved out a niche rather than becoming mainstream hits. One of these titles was God Hand - a fighting action game which is by far no where near Clovers finest hour, Okami. God Hand is repetitive, boring, unimaginative and looks like a Playstation One game. After reading that, you're probably thinking this game is pathetic, but there are some qualities which keep it from being a definite bargain bin title.
In God Hand you play as a young man who lost his arm during a fight when he was younger. A young female comes to your rescue and replaces the limb with the God Hand, a mythical limb which gives the holder unimaginable striking and fighting power and this is what the game revolves around. Having this limb is both a blessing and a curse as all the baddies in the world want it. Oh, and just to make this game even more whacked out, Clover set it in a Western setting.
The game is controlled from a third person perspective as expected but it doesn't feel like a typical third person action game. This is because the camera behind the player is extremely close and really focuses on the action of the game and the character rather than the surrounding area, giving you a full close-up of the action taking place, which basically involves you walking around and pummeling the daylights out of anything that moves, and this is where the repetition comes in.
While you do gradually unlock new powers and level up, ultimately the lack of variety almost single handedly destroys this title. An interesting point to make however is that you can level down if you get beaten down too much. Generally you level up again quickly, but it's something which really hasn't been explored before. This game is as far away from an RPG that you can get, but it does borrow some RPG elements with success.
The most impressive aspect of this title is the combat animation. The graphics flow flawlessly from one to the other as you pull off some of the most incredible combinations you have ever seen in a fighting game. However, it really does turn into a bit of a button mash fest despite requiring 'special input' and the game doesn't give any incentive to use the more complex combat features with button mashing and using light and basic attacks enough most of the time. However, using better combat fills the Tension meter faster which gives you access to the special features of the limb much quicker than usual. These are useful against most of the boss characters in the game.
Between missions, being a western city, you get the chance to play some Casino games which are a nice sideline to the main combat. This also serves to give the game a bit more a variety and is a useful game mechanic. Money earned in the casino can be used to buy moves for the main character making them an essential component of gameplay rather than something which can be ignored. The other positive aspect to God Hand is that it is quite a long title. While it does become repetitive after an hour or so, if you do find enjoyment, then it will last a while, longer than most action titles on the market today which is definitely a feather in the game's cap.
However, the rosy side of the game does end there. One of our biggest gripes is the graphics and the fact they honestly could be mistaken for a very early PS2 game. It was weird enough having this game set in a western style, but to have graphics which look no where near the power of the PS2 at the end of its lifecycle really is inexcusable. The one positive is the framerate does not drop. The sound effects are not much better and don't get us started on the voice acting or music.
God Hand is an interesting game that is one of Clover's weaker efforts. While the game does have some originality and unique features, ultimately the repetitive nature and button mashing feel to the game kills any thoughts of being a top quality title. Fun for a few hours, but then it becomes too repetitive.