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PlayStation 2












M (Mature)



June 2005



- Lots of stuff to unlock



- The likelihood of being bored to death of the game in less than five minutes is quite high

- Not much to do other than kill stuff

- Very one dimensional combat

- Visuals and sound are both quite poor



Review: Dynasty Warriors 4 (PS2)

Review: Shinobi (PS2)

Review: Nightshade (PS2)



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Samurai Western

Score: 4.0/10


Going into Samurai Western, itís not hard to have some high hopes for the game.  Being the third game in the Way of the Samurai series, one would think that this new game would live up to that which the other games laid out before.  However, with Samurai Western, itís as if the developers decided to remove every aspect of the Way of the Samurai series that made the previous games interesting.  Thereís no branching storyline, you canít choose how the dialogue will go, the battles are dull and repetitive, and the visuals lack sparkle.  At best the game is functional, itís just that someone forgot to put the fun in.


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In the game, players take control of a samurai named Gojiro Kiryu who has moseyed on down to the U.S. in search of his older brother, who has ditched the samurai lifestyle in favor of working for the evil land baron, Goldberg.  While on the hunt for Gojiroís brother, players will meet a variety of villains and townfolk that are ultimately forgettable, subtracting from an already weak plot.  While going through the stages for the game, when I was hit by the various little cut scenes and storyboards that would advance the plot, the only reason I felt compelled to sit through the things was just to make absolutely sure that I didnít miss any mission objectives that may be presented at those times.  Unfortunately I didnít miss much of anything, since the closest thing one has to a mission objective is, ďkill, Kill, KILL!Ē


When trudging through the various levels of the game, it doesnít take long to see just how flat the action in Samurai Western is.  All one does with Gojiro is run around hacking up countless hordes of henchmen working for Goldberg.  While this may work in other action games, the problem with Samurai Western is that there just isnít enough variety in how one goes about killing.  The game claims to have combos in it, but they largely lean towards hitting the attack button really quick, or the attack button and a shoulder button on the dual shock.  If youíre expecting any degree of sophistication during combat in this game, forget about it, go play something like Dynasty Warriors 4 instead.  Making things even worse is the sheer repetition in fighting, as there are legions, and legions of enemies that constantly spawn on the map for a given level.  Looking at the radar in the corner of the screen and seeing more red blips show up just made me want to sigh most of the time.  I was constantly thinking, ďCrap, thereís more of them.  When is this going to end?Ē  Eventually, the level would end, but I was never sure why.  All I can assume is that I hit some arbitrary number of kills that allowed me to advance.  Sometimes the game would even throw in a boss fight, but these guys had some very easy attack patterns to learn, making them very easy to kill.  If Gojiroís rage gauge was full, I would be able to unload a freakishly powerful attack on the boss as well, causing the bad guy to go down fast.  About the only challenge in the gameís combat is staying awake through a whole level.





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Compounding the problems with Samurai Western is that the game doesnít look very good either.  The environments severely lack detail, the animations are simplistic, and close-ups of various characters reveal a whole lot of blockiness.  There is nothing about the titleís visuals that dazzle the eyes; itís just bland, bland, bland.  On top of this, when enemies spawn into the area itís as if they were teleported there, with this weird transparent globe that sort of warps the 


surroundings momentarily, then bloop!, thereís a new enemy.  If Iím fighting cowboys, at least make sure that they come onto the scene in a somewhat realistic manner.  Perhaps have then come running in through a door.  Oh, and I hope you like bad cameraís because this game has got them in spades.  The cameras are very slow to react when turning around to cut down a new enemy, leaving players to play it by ear when swarmed by bad guys.  Itís incredibly frustrating.  On the audio side of things, players are treated to uninspired sound effects, subpar voice acting, and a soundtrack full of hot guitar licks.  This is definitely one of those games where one will find themselves putting the thing on mute, and playing a CD instead.


About the only thing that Samurai Western has going for it is the sheer number of unlockable goodies in it.  There are all sorts of neat doodads that players can get in the game that can be equipped to enhance Gojiroís stats.  Collecting coins that sometimes drop off of fallen enemies can even level the things up.  But be that as it may, managing to get all of these items would require a serious amount of replay, trudging through the boring levels again and again, and for 99.9% of gamers out there, this is far more trouble than itís worth.


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At the end of the day, Samurai Western is one of those games where itís hard not to wonder why someone bothered to make the game in the first place.  The game is just so utterly devoid of fun.  Hacking down scores of cowboys may be enjoyable for the first five minutes or so of the game, but after that there just isnít an incentive to continue playing because players are subjected to the same thing over and over again.  The only way this game could be recommended is if you are able to find it at $10 or less, and even then itís a questionable purchase.


Mr. Nash

(July 16, 2005)  

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