Also On: PS3
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Last year, Bandai Namco graced us with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, which was a super fantastic one on one fighter similar to Street Fighter 4 and Guilty Gear Xrd. The Special moves and over the top supers made for a fantastic experience, so when I heard Eyes of Heaven was coming to the US, I jumped at the chance to play it. To my surprise, the game is different from All Star Battle in almost every way which is refreshing but at the same time a little disappointing.
The story begins with our old friend Jotaro Kujo and Dio, the main villain of the JoJo world having a monstrous battle with Jotaro coming out as the victor. Suddenly, after Dio's defeat, various characters that have died (or thought to have died) throughout the long story line are coming back to life to attack Jotaro and his friends. It's then that JoJo and his cohorts meet Robert E.O. Speedwagon, (Which quite possibly might be the best name for a character ever), and they travel through time and space to find the "Holy Corpse" and restore order to the world. It all sounds confusing and weird, and unless you are a diehard fan of the JoJo World, then it will be. Most players will be scratching their heads as to who some of these characters are and where they come from. The original artist and writer of the Manga, Horohiko Araki, is the creative director of Eyes of Heaven, so you can expect the same over the top weirdness found in the original comic. Non fans and Newcomers will no doubt be left in the dark with the story.
The main focus of the game play is to pick a team of two characters and go up against another team in a large open play-field. You can choose to play through the story or take on the VS mode against the AI or another human opponent. There is also an online mode that works ok (though I experienced a bit of lag and some disconnects during my play-through). You have a few standard attacks at your disposal with even more special attacks for each character you can master. Each Character has special moves based on their character traits so it's vital to pick a team that will work well together. You have over 50 characters to experiment with, so no one can say you don't have options when creating a team. When you build up enough power in the fight, pressing both L and R triggers makes both characters team up for a devastating super move, if your partner is still in the fight that is. Fights can go on for a while since there are many areas where enemies can avoid your attacks. AI Partners seem to run head first into danger and sometimes quickly get dispatched, leaving you to deal with the rest of the battle alone. It's tough to master and frustrating at times but eventually you will get the hang of everything.
For the most part, control is responsive and tight. Combos can be pulled off with ease and the special moves can deliver mega damage if aimed properly. The biggest problem you will face here is controlling the manual camera. Many times during battle the camera goes crazy trying to follow the action and you find yourself attacking a wall or the air. Too much time is spent resetting the camera so you can see where you are attacking and where your enemy is, most of the time resulting in cheap hits and unfair knock-outs.
Visually, everything has a fantastic cel-shaded look that is very true to the Manga. Animations and even facial expressions are a joy to watch, especially during the cinematic super moves in battle. Music is a mix of metal and jazz, which may seem strange, but it actually works quite well. The tunes really get you into the battle and fit into almost every scene. Sound effects consist of fully voiced characters (in Japanese of course) with a variety of screams and grunts. Some battles will feature full on conversations between the characters throughout, which can get annoying at times, but it's not terribly overdone. Most of the characters know when it's time to shut up and fight.
All in all, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven is a unique fighter, but many players might have a hard time getting into everything to enjoy it. It does have a few minor problems that may alienate some players, while serious fans of the series will jump right in and love every second. Personally, I enjoyed my time with it. It's not perfect and by no means takes itself seriously, but it's overall concept and presentation is solid. New players may want to try out the demo first to see if its style appeals to you, while fans of the JoJo Universe will feel right at home.