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The final year of Playstation 3's position as Sony's flagship console is throwing out both the very best games of this current generation and also the very worst. 'The Cursed Crusade' puts itself into the latter category and despite being a budget purchase for me and still available incredibly cheaply there really is nothing to recommend in this rushed and un-entertaining game.
The back story is simple and one that seems to borrow from games that have gone before. The only problem for 'The Cursed Crusade' is that the games that went before were better. Time hasn't provided a base for this game to build on but instead has allowed many of the ideas to stagnate and now we are expecting more from this genre. The game is set in medieval times and the basic idea is that you are going to go on a journey and hack and slash everything in your way to pieces. I never quite got hold of why I was going on a journey and why my route was littered with people who didn't want me to make it to my destination. I guess in terms of game design it was assumed that the gamer would accept this with no need for a story.
By way of an introduction the game appears to offer up a library of cut-scenes to watch and the amount of gamer control at first seems minimal. I thought this was just an over indulgent introduction on the part of the game designers but no, this was the form of the whole game. Small sections of dull game play interspersed with long, dull, badly voiced and acted cut-scenes.
What of the game play itself? Well, some ideas in here are sound. The game offers up a basic weapon initially but with time and play you can end up dual wielding a variety of meaty looking weapons with which to inflict death and destruction on the poor souls foolish enough to stray into your path. The idea is that dual wielding these weapons opens up new and exciting combinations. The sad reality is that the combination moves, although more impressive than the other moves in the game, are too uninspiring to bother with and consequently you are likely to resort to button mashing your way through the campaign.
Alongside your character, you have a colleague battling through with you. If you have a friend who can play this character for you, a friend with patience and prepared to dedicate a few hours of his life into an otherwise turgid experience, then maybe this character proves useful. If you let the computer take control (the default) of this character then prepare to have his stupidity completely dominate the gaming experience. In terms of everything he does, expect it not to help and in most places to hinder. I ended up wandering why, at the beta stage, there wasn't the advice to just remove this character and forget the whole co-operative gameplay idea in favour of concentrating on an improved single player experience. Did this game even go to beta? I dread to think what the feedback was if so!
If you like medieval hack and slash adventures go and buy a copy of Castlevania. If you like fighting games with a magical element, then take a look at Bayonetta. If you like boringly long cut-scenes, graphics that fail to deliver, painful control systems and dull gameplay then this could well be the game for you. Cursed...I felt I was after a few hours with this game!