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Phil Larsen
21 Feb, 2007

God Hand Review

PS2 Review | For maximum results, play while being punched in the face.
The PS2 had a number of beat-em-ups; there was The Bouncer from Squaresoft (released a million years ago), and then there was that other one, and then something….maybe. The point is, it’s been a while since we’ve gotten our paws on a decent brawler. God Hand pretty much fits that category like a glove. On a hand. The sole purpose of the gameplay is to beat up bad guys, and beat them up you will – in the largest variety of ways ever seen. Hand-to-hand combat is paramount, and requires deft precision and cat-like reflexes to execute the stunning attacks and combos our young friend has up his sleeveless arm.

Those looking for a solid storyline and original setting need to look in the opposite direction, because God Hand completely lacks both of these. The hero of the story is Gene, a super-badass who was wronged as a young-un and now, upon being bestowed with the God Hand, is back to dish out a world of hurt. There are these three demons that look exactly like humans, and have names like Shannon, yet strangely despise identical Earth-living humans. Gene also needs to dispatch this troublesome trio, and naturally does so with maximum attitude and style. You'll also eventually encounter your arch-nemesis, Devil Hand - but let's leave the cheesy plot twists to be discovered on your own.

Right in the balls.

Right in the balls.
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The style, the strength – the wicked, wicked excess. Everything about God Hand screams big, whether you’re launching a 400 pound Spanish demon into the stratosphere and delivering a crushing knee to the head upon return – or spanking a buxom babe to deal an oddly kinky form of damage. You’ll fight any manner of enemies, and there are absolutely no limits on imagination. For no apparent reason you’ll come across a massive mechanical claw to pound upon (hilariously titled “Giant Enemy Crane”), a pair of homosexual circus twins, a man with maces for hands and a poisonous Chihuahua. The camera perspective is fixed behind Gene through the entire game, and while it may seem restrictive at first, it allows brutal first-hand experience of the unlimited combat.

The two systems for combat are called Techniques and Roulette. Techniques are rather self-explanatory – these are the moves and attacks Gene can dish out in any given situation. To add some truly explosive power, the Roulette system enables a select number of individual attacks, which are limited to the number of Roulette orb spaces Gene has in his inventory. Collecting dropped items and downed foes can fill Orbs, and increased Orb space upgrades are available for purchase later on. Once filled, the Roulette attacks consume Orbs as they are used – more Orbs are required for the attack, but naturally means higher damage. The R1 button is pressed to grind combat down to bullet-time, during which you have only a few second to scroll through the available attacks and select the most appropriate.

The Techniques are fully customisable, allowing you to assign any move in your arsenal to any of the face buttons. The Square button is solely used for your main combo, which progressively becomes longer and longer as you purchase upgrades mid-level. It’s extremely fun to experiment with any number of combinations, especially when there are over one hundred techniques to be discovered and added to your martial arts repertoire. Find a flowing, destructive combo for the most appropriate enemy, and Gene becomes a blur of deadly force. Amidst these attacks, you’ll also need to evade, which is handled by the right analogue stick. Nothing much to it - left and right will allow a quick sidestep, while the most useful is the back flip; by pressing down, Gene will quickly move out of harm’s way.

Country-Style Bake.

Country-Style Bake.
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The Triangle and X buttons can also be customised, allowing attacks to be assigned for single presses, as well as when pressed in unison with analogue stick movements. It’s nothing but a fantastic system, letting players form their own unique combat style. Different attacks also have different power levels, so you’ll naturally acquire newer and more devastating upgrades for your favourite techniques. The Dragon Kick Roulette is a sight to behold, launching an enemy into space while Gene struts around in true Jeet Kun Do badarseery.

The Circle button is used for context-sensitive moves. For example, after unleashing a particularly long and powerful combo against an unsuspecting bad guy, a little circle icon may just pop up and allow the damage to be taken even further. These could include Stomp, Pummel and Spank – when they appear, just mash the Circle repeatedly and Gene will just keep going, spanking and stomping his foe at lighting speed. Circle is also used to pick up various weapons, and to activate doors into successive stages.

Finally, we come to the self-titled power known as the God Hand. There isn’t actually much to explain, really – Gene’s right arm has incredible power, held back by some metal shackles. When the power bar becomes full from excess amounts of killing, Gene goes slightly mental and rips these shackles off. From there, you can unleash all the regular attacks, only at much higher speed and power. Combined with the Roulette attacks, the God Hand is another extremely useful tool for getting the edge in battle or turning the tides at the right time.

The environmental design is pretty terrible. Level progress is split into a number of sub-sections, and after completing a number of these and defeating the boss, you’ll complete the stage. Most stages are simple and functional levels that serve no purpose other than creating a forum for violence. There’s traditional gameplay mechanics, such as opening doors with keys and flicking some switches (Resident Evil references ahoy), but pretty much everything is gained while progressing through the thugs needing a beating. Because of these awful and empty levels, many may feel God Hand to be nothing more than a lengthy tech demo for an outstanding combat engine.

A hefty whack with a stick.

A hefty whack with a stick.
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In between stages, you are treated to an over world map showing a little Gene picture as he travels across the land, leaving thousands of defeated foes in his wake. At these junctions, the Shop and Casino activities are available. The Shop allows purchase of extra Techniques, Roulettes, as well as health and power augments. The Casino is exactly that – an array of minigames designed to give you a chance to increase your bundle of cash, accumulated in each level. It seems most games these days have some sort of gambling minigame, and God Hand does it well. It may take a long spell of Video Poker to get any kind of worthy cash injection, but its fun nonetheless.

While the developers clearly and confidently made the game exactly the way they wanted, it’s a shame such a brilliant engine hasn’t been fleshed out and supported by an equally impressive storyline and setting. The homage to classic beat-em-ups is nice for a bit of dumb fun – this includes eating food to gain health and bashing crates for pick-ups. The problem is, God Hand could have been an entirely original and razor-sharp premise if the fun didn’t rest almost solely on the quality of the combat. Perhaps the story could have taken a darker tone, and omitted the random vulgarities of some male/female character interactions. Still, this isn't a game for the faint of heart. God Hand is rather difficult, especially beyond Easy mode. If upgrades are obtained on a regular basis, most players shouldn't have too much trouble busting through the game once, but the harder difficulties are truly punishing.

Despite the flaws, and the obvious less-than-perfect score, God Hand is a pretty safe purchase recommendation for most PS2 owners. Anyone with the slightest taste for high-flying martial arts and heart-pounding action of the most extreme nature, God Hand is the game for you. Don’t necessarily go running out and line up in the freezing cold just to buy it – but if you’ve been wondering what great game you’ll need to get the dusty old PS2 back in action, God Hand fits the bill.
The Score
For doing what it does confidently and without delusions of grandeur in multiple aspects of gaming, God Hand deserves a whole bunch of credit. Very playable, very fun. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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6 Comments
7 years ago
Higher score then what i thought it was going to be. icon_smile.gif
7 years ago
Nice review, but I don't know how you can say there aren't many beat-em-ups on the PS2. Depending on how you define it, we've got, recently The Warriors and Yakuza, which are both quality titles.
7 years ago
Suprised it got a high score, which is a good thing IMO. I played the game for a bit and I love it. The voice acting is so bad it's good.

"uah...WAAAAAAAATTTERRRRRRRRR!"
7 years ago
Aw, only 8 for the sound. icon_sad.gif IMO the less than perfect voice acting is well and truly overshadowed by the awesome soundtrack. It's one of my favourites. icon_smile.gif

Anyway, if you want my take on the game, check out my review, either in the General gaming board or in my blog here: http://blogs.palgn.com.au/admeister

If you have a PS2, make sure you take a look at this game.
7 years ago
Having actually BEEN punched in the face while playing this game, I am in total agreement. It makes it all the better.
7 years ago
Does it support 60hz? Or should I get the american one?
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Capcom Entertainment
Developer:
  Clover Studios
Players:
  1

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