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Developer:
Red Entertainment
Publisher: BAM! Entertainment
Platform: PS2
Release Date: July 20, 2004

by Jason Ferguson




Bujingai: The Forsaken City is a fast paced action game with a lot of RPG elements from BAM! Entertainment. The game bares many striking similarities to Segaís, Otogi: Myth of Demons. So does the game differentiate itself enough from other action games, like Otogi, to make it worth playing?


The story takes place in the distant future. A nuclear experiment gone wrong resulted in massive amounts of radiation bombarding the earth. Most humans were killed instantly, but the survivors found themselves imbued with supernatural abilities. Shortly after, fierce demons appeared and dominated the earth. For years the survivors honed their abilities, training with deadly fighting arts in order to fight off the demons.


Youíll play the game as Lau Wong, a great warrior. Years after his death, he descends from the heavens in order to stop the demons. Rei Jenron was once Lauís best friend. The two trained side by side under the guidance of Master Tensai, and together they were a formidable foe against the demons. But now Rei has become a demon, and Lau must fight his old friend in order to save humanity!


Although the story is interesting enough, itís not very well relayed throughout the game. Some of the story youíll only get from the game manual, while other bits are explained in an opening cinematic thatís easy to accidentally skip over. The story doesnít tie together very well, so youíll probably find yourself with a lot of questions. Fortunately, the story isnít overly deep or complex, so this lack of information doesnít really keep you from being able to follow and enjoy the game. Still, the experience would certainly have been heightened by more solid storytelling.


Lau is modeled after Japanese star, Gackt. Fans of Gackt will definitely want to check the game out. Lau ends up looking quite a bit like a girl (actually, itís hard to tell either way), but thereís an unlockable costume design where you can play as Gackt.


Bujingai is all about the action, which is fast and fierce. Gameplay is similar to that of Otogi. You hit Square to attacking, X to jump, triangle to do a spin attack, and circle to use magic. You can chain together your attacks allowing you to beat down your enemy before he even has the chance to strike back. Lau can perform all sorts of crazy acrobatics, like running straight up a wall, or gliding through the air. You can even battle in mid-air while slashing away at your enemy. Uppercut an enemy into the air and beat him with a frenzy of sword swipes, finishing him off with a blast of magic. Combat isnít horribly deep, but itís lots of fun, and usually ends of a splendor to look at. The crazy stunts and the fast paced action are reminiscent of something from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Needless to say, itíll blow you away!


One important aspect of combat that separates Bujingai from most action games is the defense meter. The higher your defense meter the more attacks youíll be able to block. Your defense gauge can be upgraded as the game progresses, allowing you to defend more and more attacks. You auto defend attacks of enemies who you are facing as long as your defense meter isnít empty, so you can afford to take a few hits before you start taking damage. Enemies also have defense meters, and some of the tougher enemies have extremely high defense. Trying to attack them outright can be suicide, so youíll have to think and look for the right moment to attack.


Lau can lock onto enemies, making it easier to keep track of them and battle them in midair. He can also counter spells, which reflect enemy magic back at them and refill your magic gauge. I found this a very interesting ability that can easily turn the tide of any battle. It adds a new dimension to the game that keeps it from being mindless hack and slash. Use of the environment is also very important, since you can run up a wall to escape from your enemy, or jump off the wall to land behind an enemy allowing you a clean shot with your sword. This all sounds pretty complex, but thereís an optional tutorial in the beginning that will thoroughly teach you the gameís mechanics.


Throughout the game Lau will acquire new magic spells. Each spell has different effects, like summoning a whirlwind or unleashing a volley of fireballs. Youíll also be able to find upgrades for your magic, which allow you to perform higher-level spells. When you defeat an enemy they drop blue orbs. These blue orbs serve as the games form of experience and can be exchanged between stages to upgrade your character. Your attack strength, magic strength, health bar, magic bar and defense are all upgradeable. You can customize Lau however you want him, which adds some strategy and depth to the game.


The controls can cause some problems from time to time. Because of the combo system, Lau continuously swings his sword as you push square, and backing out of a combo once itís been started is nearly impossible. Often times youíll find yourself falling of a ledge somewhere because Lau walks right off the edge as he swings his sword, or youíll find yourself vulnerable to enemy attacks from behind as you complete a combo. Also, like most action titles, the camera can cause a few problems, especially during some of the games many jumping puzzles. The lock-on feature helps a lot, but poor camera angles are more than likely to kill you off a few times.


Graphically, the game is simply beautiful. The movements and animations are smooth and gorgeous. Playing the game will make you feel like youíre watching a Hong Kong action flick. The environments are large and detailed, with a good deal of variety. Much like Otogi, the game features destructible environments, but not nearly to the same extent as Otogi. You can break doors down, cut down trees and bash boxes. Not horribly deep, but fun. The character design is really nice, and the game features some highly detailed, interesting characters. Although Lau eerily looks like a girl, heís still well designed, as are the games other characters. On the other hand, the enemy variety isnít particularly large. Even the bosses repeat rather quickly. Still, the combat is good, so it doesnít really matter who youíre fighting!


The music in the game is an interesting blend of Chinese music and heavy metal. It somehow manages to fit the game pretty well. The musical variety remains pretty solid, and wonít get too repetitive. The voice acting is solid, but nothing extraordinary. The characters mouths donít move well along with the words, but the voices that come out still fit each character well and do a pretty good job. The effects, like slashing of swords, are done pretty well and help to bring the action to life.


The game is pretty short, and can be easily beat in 10 hours. Action/RPG fans that are looking for 30+ hours out of their games may be a bit disappointed. Still, there are plenty of reasons to go back into the game and replay. There are hordes of unlockables, including different outfits for Lau, an interview with Gackt, a character viewer, and more! The game offers a very high level of challenge, so you may be struggling from time to time. Fortunately, there are two different difficulty settings, so you can try your hand at the easy mode before trying the hard. Playing through hard mode shouldnít be too frustrating, though, because the game offers an unlimited number of continues. A neat replay Bujingai features is the option to create a custom opening cinematic. Itís pretty simplistic, but you can watch yourself control Lau against an army of baddies in your own cinematic.


Bujingai: The Forsaken City ends up being a very good action title. Itís a bit on the short side, and the story wasnít very well implemented, but the beautiful graphics, RPG depth and non-stop action more than make up for it. If you like action games, like Otogi: Myth of Demons, youíll definitely like Bujingai.


Final Grade: 75%




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