30 Days of Dreamcast – Day 4: Sword of the Berserk: Guts Rage

berserkcoverSword of the Berserk: Guts Rage
Genre: Hack and Slash
Developer: ASCII Entertainment
Publisher: Eidos
Released: 02/29/00


Recipe for a memorable game: One silent hero type. One honking big sword. Many reasons to use that honking big sword. It’s a recipe which was used more than once in the late 90s/Early Aughts. You had of course, Final Fantasy 7, and then you had Sword of the Berserk: Guts Rage. Of course the two games used the recipe to make vastly different games, but that is not the point.

Berserk is the story of Gutsu, a guy with a sword. Everywhere he goes events seem to conspire against him. Traveling on a highway he is beset by bandits. Entering town he and his compatriots are attacked by a tree. It is a nasty tree, if that helps. After making firewood for the townsfolk he is summoned by the local royal, who asks for his help. On it goes. This is good for you the gamer, as it gives you plenty of opportunities to unsheathe the beast and start swinging for the fences. It’s also bad, because the fences were often not very far away.

Gut’s sword was probably too big for the game. In areas where you have freedom of movement the game allows you to reach an almost Zen like status as you carve up plant creatures and other things. However there are levels where the sword does more harm than good. You might be able to swing once and have the sword embed itself in the wall, or clang off a stone wall. This leaves you vulnerable and takes away from the fun of the game. You are given other weapons to use, but they are all secondary and really why give me a honking big sword if you aren’t going to let me use it whenever I feel the urge?

The story is, well, Anime, and weird. Which I suppose is like saying the sky is there, and it’s blue. I’ve already described much of its beginnings, and I won’t spoil the end even after 10 years. It’s predictable, but there are points which make the game feel more like a spaghetti western than a cartoon.

Voice work is stellar, with some very familiar names attached to the credits. These include Michael Bell, Cam Clarke, BJ Ward and others. I know Cam Clarke has been a bit over exposed to certain people, but at the time of the game’s release I was pleasantly surprised to hear him; even if his character was highly annoying.

Graphics are as one might expect, looking quite dated now, but the truth is they held up far longer than I might have thought possible. Well into the life of the Playstation 2 Berserk looked as good as many games being released on the “superior” system. It’s only now when I’ve been spoiled by graphical powerhouse games like Killzone 2 or even games like Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion that Berserk starts to really show its age.

The Scores:
Story: Enjoyable
Graphics: Good
Sound: Incredible
Gameplay: Above Average
Replayability: Enjoyable
Balance: Mediocre
Originality: Very Good
Addictiveness: Mediocre
Appeal Factor: Below Average
Miscellaneous: Enjoyable

FINAL SCORE: ENJOYABLE

Short Attention Span Summary:
A decent game that is marred by its level design more than anything else, as the Sword of the Berserk should not be hindered by mere walls. Stick this character and gameplay in an open field or amongst less crowded environs and you would have had a much more enjoyable and far less frustrating experience.

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