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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Koei

 

Developer

Omega Force

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

September 19, 2006

 

 

- Wailing on tons of bad guys is still pretty fun for awhile

- Camera control

- Improved level up systems

 

 

- Same repetitive gameplay as the last several installments

- Same appalling graphics

- Boring music

- No major changes to make the game worthwhile to anyone but the most diehard fans

 

 

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Review: Samurai Western (PS2)

 

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Samurai Warriors 2

Score: 5.0 / 10

 

Samurai Warriors 2 actually the sixth in Koeiís never-ending series of hack and slash Ďem ups starting with Dynasty Warriors 2 at the PS2 launch and running all the way up until now. And this isnít including the myriad of spin-off and portable editions thatíve been released. And for good reason -- itís one of Japanís most popular series, and has a reasonable following elsewhere around the world too.

 

samurai warriors 2          samurai warriors 2

 

But Koei and developer Omega Force have milked the series dry long ago -- the gameplay has always been inherently repetitive, and to repackage it over and over and over is the kind of business scheme that would put Megaman to shame. If the games improved considerably from installment to installment, that would be okay. Here, they donít. The only difference between Samurai and Dynasty Warriors is that the former takes place in old Japan, while the latter takes place in ancient China.

 

In every single Warriors game, youíre an ultra powerful warrior in the middle of a battlefield, able to wipe out dozens of enemy warriors with a few quick swipes. You donít command anything or anyone -- all you do is run around, protect your allies, and wail on some bad guys until you defeat the enemy general. Most of

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these levels are pretty big -- on average, it take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour or more to beat a level. Thereís a slight element of strategy in constantly balancing your offensive and defensive strikes, although since none of your AI buddies can do anything worthwhile, youíre constantly running across the level to save them, essentially playing a game of feudal 

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babysitter. Your pals tend to bark out orders mid-battle, all of whom have massively awful English voice actors. (Did the Japanese really sound like surfer dudes?) Most of the time itís useless babble, but occasionally they inform you of secondary objectives, like defending your army while they set up a castle.

 

The fighting system isnít terribly complex either. There are two attack buttons, so you can create combos, along with a Musou super meter that lets you execute special attacks. Thatís around all there is. For its simplicity, itís still pretty fun to run into parade of enemies and destroy them with minimal effort, watching as your kill count rises. Itís also still fun to grab a horse and trample on everything in sight, except for enemy generals, which possess some kind of magic power that causes horses to stop in their tracks. Alas, one of the guiltiest pleasures of the Dynasty Warriors games -- the cheesy power rock -- has been dropped in favor of some boring Japanese influenced techno.

 

The graphics engine is abysmal.  The terrains are all big and boring, terribly textured and ugly in every way imaginable. The character models would be acceptable, if not for all of the jaggies. Dynasty Warriors 2 impressed everyone back on the PS2 launch day since it could display so many soldiers on the screen, so these issues were somewhat acceptable back then. With the next generation of game systems upon us, the game just looks and feels lazy. In addition, the number of soldiers on the battlefield were made possible by sacrificing their intelligence  Foes stand around and wait to be slaughtered -- at their smartest, theyíll run away with their tails between their legs, but they still wonít put up a reasonable fight. All the while, allies run around in a thoroughly confused manner -- sometimes theyíll ride straight into their deaths, other times theyíll just stand still, apparently waiting for some scripted events.

 

samurai warriors 2          samurai warriors 2

 

New to Samurai Warriors 2 is ability to (finally) control the camera, instead of simply centering it behind your character. Itís a nice addition, although it still feels too zoomed in. The other major improvement comes in the form of an improved leveling up system. You now gain experience from killing enemy generals, which strengthens your characters skills, as well as granting more combos. This may sound like a pretty traditional RPG mechanic, but itís a lot nicer than the random item collecting of the previous games. You also can also scour the battlefield for gold, which can be used to by a large assortment of abilities. The indoor castles from the original Samurai Warriors are back, and theyíre just as bland as ever.

 

Youíd better get used to the boring layouts and droning textures of the interior levels if you plan on tackling the Survival mode, which is structured like a standard dungeon crawl. The traditional Story Mode is still around as well. At first, there are only a handful of characters available, each featuring five (plus one bonus) stage. As you play though various scenarios, youíll unlock more and more characters, ranging from a spear wielding pretty boy to a badass ninja; from a little girl wielding a ball-in-a-cup, to any number of fat, bearded men. Needless to say, thereís a lot to see and do before you fully complete the game.

 

Samurai Warrior 2's featured mode is the Suguroku board game, which is basically like Monopoly set in Japan. You control one of four warriors who moves around a board, purchasing land, and hoping one of your opponents steps on it. However, you can also issue challenges to take over territories, which are usually some kind of fighting mini-game. In theory, itís an interesting idea, but it doesnít really work out. The game requires that you play with four characters regardless of how many human players there are, filling in the remaining spots with computer controlled players.  This makes the Suguroku mode obnoxiously boring unless youíre got three other Samurai Warriors fans handy.

 

By now, if youíre even vaguely familiar with the Warriors games, you know what youíre getting into. Ultimately, itís barely any better or worse than the ones that came before it -- and probably after as well. Fans will enjoy it. Newcomers may find it interesting, as it is technically more polished than most of its brethren, even if itís only due to minor things like the camera control. For everyone else that got tired of the same repetitive gameplay years ago, thereís absolutely nothing to see here.

 

- Kurt Kalata

(September 21, 2006)

 

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