The team that brought us Dynasty Warriors has triumphed again, this time in the era of warring states in ancient Japan. Between fighting and/or aiding the rise of the powerful warlord, Oda Nobunaga (also a featured historical character in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege), you'll get to experience some of the rich tapestry of Japanese history up close, first hand, and exceedingly violent. The Warriors series has always been a favorite of mine, and now that Koei has moved away from doing purely Chinese legendary history, we've got a chance to see what new variables they can add to the mix, and what they can do to improve on an already successful game.
First, the combat system been expanded, adding a new flexibility with extra attacks provided by more powerful weapons, and extra attacks that can be split between both normal and charge moves. Unlike the previous titles, Samurai Warriors has gone the way of fewer characters and more in-depth story modes. In every way, Koei has improved on a fine formula.
You can gather different weapons, rather than just improving a single signature weapon. Items now go from level 1 to 50. The experience system has been greatly expanded, now including a skill tree of specific special abilities that can customize every character in different ways. Maybe you're interested in playing a version of Mitsuhide Akechi that specializes in speed, while your friend wants power and musou attacks. Add to this a robust custom character system that is a mini-game unto itself, and you've got essentially the coolest version of the Warriors games ever to be released.
Graphically and aurally, this game is similarly fine. With the release of this and Onimusha 3, I've been amazed twice in such a short period of time. I thought the PS2 had given up the ghost for pushing graphics to a new level, but I was wrong. All in all, a well worth it buy, no questions asked.
Download Samurai Warriors
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Sushi replaces dim sum, and Samurai, rather than Chinese swordsmen, spill blood by the gallon. Dynasty Warriors' cast of thousands may be got up in different garb, but the song remains the same in Samurai Warriors. On the surface, the series is simple: If it moves, stab it, and when it stops, find something else to skewer. Each of the game's 15 or so playable fighters specializes in a specific pointy object and wades through rivals with a repertoire of pokes. But it's the behind-the-scenes strategy that puts the art in Samurai's otherwise mindlessly fun war. To thwart a warlord, you'll have to maintain your army's morale, know when to attack and retreat, and work in concert with allied commanders. While the Sun-Tzu slant gives Samurai Warriors an edge over most slashers, so little has changed since the series' inception that its shortcomings--namely, repetitiveness and choppy performance--are starting to show. Interior stages aren't cutting it; set in booby-trapped castles, they take away the trademark tactics, the cavalry charges and clashing armies, and go back to the genre's grindstone with mazes and monotony. A few made-in-Japan heroes--like the ninja Hanzo, who swings a sickle and chain--put a faster spin on the bloodletting, but most of the cast aren't much different from their cousins in China's Three Kingdoms. Of course, diehards won't care--they'll be content maxing the stats of each officer in their entourage, collecting every last weapon and power-up in the warring states.
I've hacked and slashed so many Asian people in these Warriors games that I'm developing a guilty conscience. You know, what with me being Asian and a non-mass-murderer and all. I'm also growing numb to all the killing--which means Samurai Warriors doesn't provide any big-time thrills but still satisfies my occasional need for a mindless action game. In a way, I'm surprised that I like this game. It's really not that different from the hundred Dynasty Warrior games before it. Character development (skill and stat raising, leveling up, etc.) is improved, and the new ninja and samurai styles of fighting are cool. The sense of d6ja vu here, however, will smack you black and blue. Die-hard Warriors will enjoy Samurai, but only halfheartedly, knowing revolutionary new gameplay is still MIA.
Taking out 500 enemies or more in a single battle could've become dreadfully repetitive, but Samurai Warriors stays sharp, thanks mostly to RPG-ish character advancement (including lots of new moves to master). This war won't be over in a weekend, either--five branching campaigns provide plenty of opportunities to earn honor in battle. A somewhat confusing interface and disjointed midbattle cut-scenes make keeping track of allies and major enemies a chore, occasionally shrouding the path to victory, but otherwise, Samurai Warriors slices and dices.
Sashimi for TWO
Split the screen, and two can slice through Samurai Warriors' story mode together or compete in several challenges. To claim victory in showdown mode, simply slay your opponent and his army. Strike mode's object is to slaughter 1,000 enemies, while pursuit pits players in a race to capture the lard-assed Goemon, who's hiding in a fortress full of look-alikes. Finding fatty is the most fun, but in all cases, the action slows to a crawl with too many characters onscreen.