Nostalgia for the Relatively Recent

The other day I got a heavenly delivery – you know, the kind that I would fight people off with a sword to enjoy. It was Heavenly Sword, as if I hadn’t made that painfully obvious, from Lovefilm.

Now, I should explain. Two years ago, I bought my (first) PS3, and along with it I got Resistance and Motorstorm. I then bought Heavenly Sword, because this was the game I wanted to play the most and one of the driving forces behind me getting the console in the first place (just imagine, if I didn’t see that fateful TV advert, I might not have ended up here, writing this…). I played both Resistance and Motorstorm a lot, enjoying the former more than the latter, but they still didn’t feel particularly brilliant. They were good, don’t get me wrong, but they still didn’t blow me away.

I should point out that I was playing on an SD TV due to not having a seat made entirely out of gold, nor did I use £50 note toilet paper. In fact, I had to trade in a PS2 and 13 games, a Gamecube and 4 games and pay £100 to get the PS3 in the first place. The only way I could’ve bought myself a HD TV would be to trade in my sister, which I wasn’t sure Game would accept. I’d probably be quite troubled if they did, really.

So I got Heavenly Sword and played it. For 8 hours. Straight. I stayed home from school to play it (which wasn’t particularly wise, really). Heavenly Sword simply screamed next-gen at the top of it’s metaphorical lungs, leaving me reeling as I run across massive ropes in what I like to describe as awesome-motion (it wasn’t in slo-mo, because it wasn’t slowed down, but it was in awe-mo). Even through my rather crappy SD TV, Heavenly Sword’s graphics blew me away. The detail, the backgrounds, the animation, the cut-scenes, it was all amazing. For Christmas, I got a HD TV, through which Heavenly Sword blew me away all over again. I was actually rather astonished at how big a difference between the two there was.

The game wasn’t all graphics, either, I really enjoyed the gameplay, the speed/ranged/power attacking system was pretty smart and fighting was both hectic but manageable. It was a great game. Oh, and on one level you fight over 800 enemies, all of which can be on screen at a single time. Oh, and the level following that? Well, I’ll avoid spoilers, but there are loads more than 800 enemies on the screen in that level.

So two days ago, when Heavenly Sword descended through my letter box in a pillar of light I immediately went and played it like my life depended on my putting that disk into my PS3 in awe-mo. The game doesn’t look as good as it did back then, mostly due to the fact that it’s two years old, but the backgrounds are still great. The gameplay? Well, since Heavenly Sword, I’ve played all sorts of games, including the God of War 3 demo, so it’s bound to feel a little dated, but it’s still a lot of fun. Short of a few questionably placed checkpoints, the game is just as great as I remember.

The biggest draw of Heavenly Sword these days, however, is the exceptionally good story and cutscenes. With Andy Serkis (Gollum, King Kong – not insults, he actually was Gollum and King Kong) helping with the direction and other such related things, as well as being King Bohan in both voice and motion-capture, the storyline and the acting is all wonderful. The story and its telling are all untouched by time, much like those creepy manakin-like connosieurs of plastic surgery, but in a less creepy way.

Heavenly Sword is a relatively recent game when you think about the usual subjects of nostalgia, and if I played it for the first time the other day I wouldn’t be anywhere near as in love with it now as I am. It took me this long to get to the point I wanted to get across: Games are not as good as you remember them. Remember how good Ocarina of Time was all that time ago? It’s not that good now. Remember how brilliant the first Crash Bandicoot game was? It’s not that good now.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy Crash Bandicoot when I play it, but it’s not to the point where I’ll play it for hours like I would all that time ago – it’s just not that good anymore. If you used to really love a game a long time ago, I recommend you don’t play it again. Preserve your memory, you’re older, wiser and more experienced now, all you’re going to do is notice the cracks that weren’t there the first time around. If you don’t notice those cracks, you’re ignoring problems in a game just because you used to like it, and what does that make you?