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March 23, 2006
Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
23/3/2006THQCapcom1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
311KBDolby PLIIYesYesNoneNo

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Graphics do look quite polished.
Anytime a new Onimusha title is release it's a cause for great anticipation. The series has become one of the benchmarks in the current generation in terms of graphics, gameplay, and storyline. Fans were stunned to learn that Onimusha 3 would be the last in the series; however it was not to be. I mean, which company would ever lay to rest a series which is probably their second biggest seller behind Resident Evil? Capcom have been keen to stress that gamers need not be familiar with the previous stories to play this game as it is a quite separate story as it picks up with Nobunaga’s successor, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, as he aligns himself with the insidious Genma forces.

With devilish aspirations of controlling the strange, deformed Genma creatures and using them to take over the entire land, Nobunaga Oda was put down by an Onimusha, a wielder of the power of the Oni, inside the inferno that was Honno-ji Temple, and disappeared without a trace...

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Now that's a weapon.
With Nobunaga’s death, the Genma forces that had been ravaging all of Japan disappeared into the night. After Nobunaga’s demise, Hideyoshi Toyotomi took control of the land, and everyone thought a period of peace and tranquility had arrived once again. However, peace is often short-lived...

On June 29, 1596, a strange planet with a mysterious glow suddenly appeared in the sky. And from this day forth, Hideyoshi was a different man, and natural catastrophes began happening all over Japan. As fear and anxiety grew in the hearts of men, the Genma started to reappear. Time passed, and it became 1598.

As chaos slowly spread, Hideyoshi started a quest to gather cherry trees from all corners of the land to the capital. At the same time, somewhere not far off, a young warrior who possessed the dark power of the Oni stepped forward. And at that very moment, the wheels of fate started to turn, various schemes and machinations propelling it forward ever faster...

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Powering up.
As with previous games in the Onimusha universe this is essentially a hack and slash styled game, although much like an RPG you now earn experience for defeated foes. This experience can be used to improve attributes such as attacking power, the speed at which you collect the souls and evading enemies. Another change to this game is that you no longer progress through the quest on your own. No, it's not multi-player, but you will be joined by a series of four friends during your travels. Not only will they help you during battle but also have a few special tricks up their sleeves which will assist you in solving some of the (quite impressive) puzzles littered throughout the game. It's also possible via the D-Pad to issue commands to your friends during battle with options such as attack, defend or hang back for a bit.

One of the great features of this new title is the boss battles which are simply spectacular. It not just their stunning design but also the fact that they are damn tough too - some which will take considerable time to defeat. In fact, this game is considerably tougher then previous titles (not Devil May Cry 3 tough) and the game actually needed to be taken back a notch or two in our books. It's certain to have some of you pulling your hair out.

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More great effects.
There are a couple of areas where I was a little disappointed with Capcom's effort with this title. Primarily I found that the combat against regular enemies became a bit stale after a while. Enemy AI is a bit limited - they approach, you attack - that's pretty much it on many of the standard enemies. The introduction of teammates is interesting, but unfortunately it doesn't quite work as well as expected with limited commands, and enemies being distracted too easily at times by them, and not enough at others. Finally I was disappointed by the cameras in the game which, despite the inclusion of a lock-on to enemy button, required far too much manual control to see what was happening, and to me was a bit too close to the action at times. I actually preferred the locked camera positions in previous games to this, despite the fact that at times the fixed camera put you a long way from the action, perhaps Capcom need to find a better balance.

Yet again the graphics in this Onimusha title are something to behold. Within the first few minutes you will, yet again, be witnessing a brilliant opening pre-rendered cut-scene which, while not quite as good as previous title in the series is still stunning quality that surpasses that of 99% of all other games released today. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, these intros wouldn't look out of place in a big screen cinema. In-game, and also for the real-time cut-scenes, the graphics engine is certainly up to the task with gorgeous backgrounds and details on the characters. Sadly unlike Capcom's stunning Resident Evil 4 there is no progressive scan mode (although even that title requires a cheat to active it!). We've already mentioned the cameras as one of the problems with this game.

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Now that's an enemy!
Capcom's top game series rarely skimp in the audio department, and this is again the case with this game. The music is so perfectly suited to the tone of the game that you'll hardly realise it's there, but when you do you'll never be disappointed. The dialogue, while occasionally a bit corny, is well voiced and the sound effects solid. Dolby Pro Logic II rounds out a very solid audio effort.

Look, don't get me wrong with some of my negativity, Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams is still a wonderful action title on the PS2. Perhaps it was one too many for the series on the system, or perhaps Capcom's best employees have already moved onto next generation games, but the game just seems a little too familiar, and lacks some of the punches which put the previous games in such high esteem. Certainly a game which fans of the series will still love, but newcomers may want to check out the three previous games which we think are slightly superior.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSThe CG and in-game graphics are stunning. Cameras do detract a bit.
88%
SOUNDGreat music and effects with fairly good voice acting as well.
82%
GAMEPLAYBoss encounters are great, normal battles a bit tiresome. Very fun.
85%
VALUEAt about 25 hours this is a fairly lengthy game, certainly good value.
90%
OVERALLOnimusha: Dawn of Dreams is an excellent game that deserves to be in collections of fans of the series. Newcomers can also join the fray with an entirely new storyline and while there are some small issues this is still one of Capcom's best series'.
86%

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