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**El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (Xbox 360)**
A few months ago I was extremely lucky when a TEFL student of mine was given an Xbox 360 and due to the fact that he doesn't like games he then passed this gift on to me, for free! Included with the Xbox were a number of games which personally I wouldn't even have thought about purchasing if I had seen them in the shops. One of these games is El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron, which will now be shortened to "El Shaddai" for this review as it is a bit of a lengthy title to repeat over and over!
The story of El Shaddai is for me a little unusual and one I haven't really heard of in any game I have played in the past. The game is set at the beginning of the human race as we know it, the earth is still a strange and mysterious place and because of this God has sent 7 angels to keep watch over the humans and protect them from harm. However, seeing the way humans behave in their lives full of freedom and no worries or cares the angels turn against their God and they leave Heaven, or as it is put in the game, they fall from Heaven and are known as the Fallen Angels, which at the same time betrays their God and the powers above. Obviously this angers God and the powers that be and they set upon a plan to cause a huge flood on Earth, thankfully this plan is discovered and this is where you, the player, come into the story. Playing as the character Enoch you will need to work your way through the worlds fighting against the fallen angels to purify them and return them to heaven. Along your way you will be assisted by a man who always seems to be talking to someone on his phone! This character is named Lucifel, it is not made entirely clear in the game but from what I can gather he is some kind of assistant to God and he will help to guide Enoch (you) through the levels and in the direction of the Fallen Angels. Along your way you will encounter many smaller enemies who have been put upon the Earth to protect the Fallen Angels, you must fight these enemies and not give up on your quest.
Fighting your enemies is an interesting part of the game as you will begin the game with very limited resources when it comes to weapons and the weapons which you do have at your disposal will become dirty and require purifying! After all you are cleansing these enemies of their evils and the dirtier your weapon then the less effective it will be and the harder it will be for you to defeat them. As you defeat enemies and purify Fallen Angels you will gain new weapons to aid you in your quest. Each time you acquire a new weapon Lucifel will guide you in the use of the weapon and which controls you must press in order to use the weapon successfully. In total there are only three weapons within the game but you may only carry one with you at any given time. Each weapon has its good and bad points and it is up to you to choose which one will suit you best for the area of the game you are playing. You are only able to change your weapons at certain points in the game where you see a special icon, or by defeating an enemy and stealing their weapon which will then replace the one you are currently carrying. I have found this to be a little annoying as I will sometimes have a good weapon and after defeating and enemy I accidentally press the button to steal their weapon instead of the button for purifying my own weapon and then I am stuck with something which is no where near as helpful!
As you work your way through the levels you will be thrown into worlds where the scenery is very random and weirdly wonderful! Some of the levels are set in 3D form where as other will have you jumping around on a 2D side scrolling platformer style level, either way the visual side of these levels is fantastic albeit a little random and in some areas even psychedelic! I really like this aspect of the game as it makes it a little unusual compared to other games I own or have played in the past. Some levels are very frustrating as they are quite challenging, but not in the sense of fighting enemies but more in the sense of trying to jump from one platform to another and completely missing and falling off the edge which, if you do it too many times, means you have to redo the whole area again! I do like the music in El Shaddai as I find it quite relaxing and in a way quite soothing which is great when I have to defeat enemies as I'm not wound up and on edge and I don't have the same amount of tension as I do when playing a game like Call of Duty for example. This soothing effect doesn't take anything from the fun of playing the game or the excitement of it, it just makes it a little different.
I find the controls of the game to be generally ok, at first I struggled a little to get used to which button did what but after a couple of levels I felt pretty confident with them and as I previously mentioned the only real problem I have is accidentally stealing a weapon instead of cleansing the one I have.
**Multiplayer and Online **
El Shaddai is a single player game so there is no possibility for multiplayer. As far as I can tell there is no online play for El Shaddai, there is one online achievement but this is related to the scoreboards and not actually playing a game online.
**Xbox 360 Achievements**
Like most Xbox 360 games, El Shaddai has achievements to unlock and improve your gamer score. The achievements in El Shaddai are worth a total of 1000G (Gamerscore) and are earned mainly for completing levels and defeating certain amounts of different enemies.
**Price and Availability**
El Shaddai can be purchased on Amazon for around £7.50 for a used copy or around the £14 mark for a new one. There is also a Playstation 3 version of the game available for around the same kind of prices.
El Shaddai has an age restriction of 12+. In my opinion the game isn't blood and gore, in fact I don't recall seeing any blood, it is however a lot of fighting and some people may find the storyline unsuitable for children. My brother is 10 years old and when he came to visit he was playing this game and he took no notice of the storyline and simply enjoyed the fight scenes and the general gameplay with no problems at all.
Overall I do enjoy El Shaddai, it is a fantasy style game, which isn't my usual style of game yet I find it very enjoyable to play. I originally only played it because when I was given the Xbox with some games this was one of the few games which was in English and as it wasn't anywhere near payday I couldn't really take myself on a games shopping spree, but after playing the game and getting quite into it, it is still a game I keep going back to as I enjoy the challenge, I think the visual effects are fantastic and it is generally completely different to all of the games in my collection.
I would definitely recommend this game and I will be giving it 4 out of 5 stars.
Thanks for reading :)