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Samurai Warriors is a game which sounds like it should be fun, but manages to take EVERY expectation you might have, and totally throw them away.
The first thing that popped up to me was the insanely horrible AI. The enemies run up to you, blood lust in their eyes, trembling fingers to thrust their spears deep into your bowels, AND... nothing.
They stand there like sheep waiting for you to turn around and smack em up.
Not to mention the levels are often too damn hard to finish the first time around. They let you keep the experience you gained while playing the level because let's face it, without that you'd never level up, and have a slightly higher chance of passing the level. Why did that one enemy have the ability to half my life? Why not?!
The level design is WRETCHED. Bare, empty, fake feeling, I was never able to really submerge myself into the game.
And the voice acting... oh dear lordy lord the voice acting. In the first installment you could turn off the English dubs and listen to the Japanese voice actors with English subtitles. They REALLY should have kept that feature because the English voice actors all sound like there was more soul in the mic they were talking to.
Whoops, had to let that one out.
Then the graphics, also really below par. This was in NO WAY, a next gen game graphics wise. The enemies all looked bulky, bad motions, the maps felt empty half the time and they all looked the same.
The storylines for the characters, true or no, they were presented in an awful way. Cheesy as they come coupled with the incredibly bad voice acting...
the music was tragically linear and without inspiration.
There are many countries that are steeped in rich history. The British Isles prides itself on its ruins and historic points of references. China has a giant wall that spans miles just because the Hun was too lazy to get off their horses. Like China, the history of Japan was shrowded in mystery until relatively recently. Japan is a thriving country that has roots that are often parallel to the West, but also often completely different. The past has proved a rich mine for one particular Japanese game maker called KOEI who pride themselves on creating hack n slash games set in Feudal Japan. These games are known as Dynasty Warriors, but they also have a sister product called Samurai Warriors that looks at a later period of Japanese history. Could Samurai 2 prove different enough within the hack n slash genre? Or would it be yet another mediocre, seen it all before boreathon?
If you have already noted the stars given to this game and the last sentence that I wrote in the introduction you may uncover what I think of this game without going too much further. Samurai 2s gameplay is everything that is wrong with the genre of hack n slash and in particular the products of KOEI. Once more you are given the choice of several real life historic figures and you must play them on the battle field as you push to win. You are given a special body guard to fight alongside and onscreen their can be hundreds of enemies attacking you. By using a series of button presses you kill and maim with ease.
It is the level of simplicity and repetitiveness that ruins this game. It is far too similar to the last Samurai game and all 5 of the Dynasty Warriors games. There is absolutely nothing else to do but slowly wade through wave after wave of enemies. I was hoping for something a bit more emotive from the game, but this was not to be the case. Undoubtedly that within the genre itself this is probably the best example on offer. Unfortunately, this genre is now officially old and should be put out to pasture of at least dramatically reworked.
The only positive aspect of gameplay is nothing to do with the central product, but instead a free boardgame-like experience that comes free. In this you take the control of a character in a Risk-like game that sees you trying to build your resources and fight off other warriors. I actually played this for longer than the main game as it was simple and fun. However, I would not spend money on this as a similar experience can be bought on Xbox Live Marketplace for a lot less. (2 out of 5)
If your interests lie in Japanese history there is actually quite a lot of story that can be gleaned from this product. You fight as one of several different warriors who really existed at one time or another. Depending on who you are determines what battles you fight and who you face. Its easy enough to follow one hero, only to play on the other side at a later date. This means that after playing all the starting characters and the numerous unlockable ones, you get a rich picture of the conflicts of Japanese history not bad. (3 out of 5)
Lifespan for Samurai Warriors 2 is probably less about what the makers wanted it to be and more about how long you can play the same type of gameplay over and over again. On a positive note there are several characters to use who all have 5 levels to play. To complete all these and unlock all the extras could take a good while. Unfortunately, each hero plays so similarly that there is little reason for you to want to keep playing after you have had your fill. I also felt that the Achievements on offer where uninspiring as they only unlocked when you completed the game as each character. Personally I much prefer it when I am rewarded for doing the unusual like walking 10 miles or beheading 500 baddies. (2 out of 5)
Graphically Samurai Warriors is not actually that poor. I would not say that it was anywhere near the top level of graphics, but they are clear enough and modern enough for the 360. The main heroes themselves are good as they all look completely different and are well detailed. This can not be said of the majority of enemies who are all the same model so it feels like you are killing 100 of the same man. (3 out of 5)
Once more in the hack n slash genre the level design causes the game grief. I have already mentioned that the gameplay is very samey, well, so is the level design. Each level is a map that contains the battle. On this map are several castles that you must capture as well as exits that you must chase the enemies through. Essentially the maps are exactly the same as all the other KOEI games that I have played and I no longer believe this is enough. (2 out of 5)
Solidifying Samurai Warriors position as mediocre at best is the sound. The music is forgettable and the sound effects are mostly just grunts and groans from fallen enemies. Add to this a small number of sound bites that your hero shouts once in a while and you soon begin to get annoyed. (2 out of 5)
In the unlikely event that you have never played a hack n slash game and you bought this for £10 in a bargain bin you may actually quite like it. It is certainly the best KOEI game that has been made, but that is like saying Mussolini was the best tyrannical leader of WW2. However, if you are actually someone who plays games the likes of God of War and Ninja Guidan will put you off this completely. The gameplay and level design are so generic to the point of fault and its left to a simple mini game for any enjoyment value. (2 out of 5)
Maker: KOEI RRP £30
Amazon uk £22.47
Over 70 cinematic sequences supervised by Shinsuke Sato, director of the cult hit The Princess Blade, and new music from noted fusion artist Minoru Mukaiya. 26 Playable characters in all - 10 new warriors are ready for battle including the legendary Musashi Miyamoto, Ieyasu Tokugawa, the unifier of Japan, and the enigmatic ninja Kotaro Fuma. For anyone who thought attacks couldn't get any more devastating and spectacular than a fully charged Musou, think again! Samurai Warriors 2 now gives you the chance to max out your Musou gauge not once, not twice, but an incredible three times, adding an exciting and all-new element of strategy to the gameplay. Players can now choose between saving up for a devastating three-bar attack, or using smaller attacks at more frequent intervals.