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Review: The Way Of The Empty Hand
This is a very interesting game called "The Way of the Empty Hand", a Karate game where you customize a fighter and guide him through several matches on his way towards becoming... The King of Karate!
There is a nice training level where you can test your abilities, HOWEVER, you can only test the abilities that you have purchased. This is still a great place to get the feel for the games mechanics, it helped me a lot.
Gameplay feels very calculated and strategic. You can't just go running and smashing buttons like you would on Street Fighter. You have to approach carefully and strike with precision. My only complaint about the battle/customization system is that you don't see a decription of attacks before you buy them. When you're purchasing your moves you can only judge them by their cost, and it's really a blind guess as to their usefulness. You then have to perform the move in the training area to see a description of what the move does. For a game with so much emphasis on strategy in battle, it would really help next time to have more information when customizing the fighter.
Graphics are just what you would expect for a game like this. Movements are realistics, the settings are solemn and stoic, and the atmosphere is very.... cherry blossom. The fighers are drawn and animated very well, and you feel like you are really a part of a Karate match.
Sounds and music take the atmosphere up a notch. The music puts you in the mood for some Karate action, and the sound effects effectively convey the disappontment of a miss or block, and the satisfaction of landing a hit.
Lastability will be high for those who take the time to learn the moves and start over a few times. It takes time to customize your figher with the moves that you find effective, and you can't go back and un-learn a move. So the danger is that most players will spend all their cash on a move that doesn't work well for them, and they will give up instead of starting over and investing in something else. Once again, for a sequel (and I hope there will be one), having descriptions for the moves as you buy them would help greatly.
Overall, this is a very well made and balanced fighting game. This is NOT a button-masher, it takes practice and patience, and a bit of time getting to know your fighter. Highly recommended for fighter fans!
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