March 20, 2007 - Some games just feel like an easy target. Let's be honest, when you've spent the best part of a year riding on a wave of unintentional hilarity, born out of historically accurate giant crustaceans and astounding 'new' gameplay mechanics, courtesy of one over-excitable Sony executive, you'd better have something mighty special in your bag of tricks to turn back the tide of public opinion.

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Fighting: Something you'll be doing an awful lot of in Genji.

It's something of a relief then to see that http://ps3.ign.com/objects/761/761160.html isn't the complete, unmitigated laughing stock half the internet was anticipating - which isn't to say it's much cop either, because, in truth, it isn't. What it is, is a launch title offering all the expected visual razzmatazz Sony's PlayStation 3 needs in its line-up to satiate all those polygon-hungry early-adopters, poised ready to hand over 425 big ones this Friday.

While undeniably pretty - sporting the usual roster of shiny bells and next-gen whistles we've come to expect from a console the size of a caravan and power consumption of a small principality - the sad fact is that none of that next-gen oomph has gone into creating an experience even remotely more evolved than Sony's previous Genji titles. In other words, it's tired, formulaic, repetitive and - ultimately - dull.

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Kamui mode: match on-screen button sequences to fell large groups in bullet-time.

Much like its predecessors, Days of the Blade is a tried and true hack 'n' slash button-masher, with a focus almost entirely on cutting through endless swathes of dim-witted enemies determined to hamper your progress at every possible opportunity. Thankfully, some effort's gone into mixing the action up a bit this time around with the introduction of four playable, switchable characters, each offering different attacks and abilities.

Girly-faced Yoshitsune is a master of the blade, for instance, while burly Benkei prefers to skewer opponents with the massive girth of his club. Rounding off your early posse (with previous Genji boss character Buson turning up later) is Shizuka, queen of the whirly yo-yo blades. Injecting some much-needed variety into proceedings, each character's weapon roster can be upgraded with increasingly powerful additions as you progress through the game, each offering a brand new selection of devastating acrobatic moves.

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