Samurai Warriors 2 - PS2 Review
It seems Koei arenít content with just the one incredibly popular hack and slash game franchise. Samurai Warriors 2, the third title in the Samurai Warriors series, has recently hit the shelves and while there are some new additions to Gameplay, you could still be forgiven for mistaking this release for any of the games from the Dynasty Warriors series. I almost want to just copy and paste our review for Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires and change the name... But there are a handful of changes that give Samurai Warriors 2 a little credit. Just don't expect anything revolutionary.
|These graphics are familiar!|
Like the first Samurai Warriors game, the sequel is set in feudal Japan. Players will take control of up to 26 characters (many of which are locked at first) ranging from samurai warriors to ninjas with oddly magical powers. Each character has their own story played out through a handful of scenarios. Put them all together and you have a fairly lengthy game, but it is somewhat of a chore to get through them all.
So letís get this out of the way. The combat here is every bit as repetitive and stale as any of the other Koei releases. For the most part, you can safely hack your way through the entire campaigns with use of only 1 or, if youíre feeling creative, 2 buttons, with the controls set up using the identical Dynasty Warriors scheme (square: normal attack, triangle: charge attack). On top of that there is the to-be-expected Musou attacks set to the circle button and a fairly useless jump command on the X button. Obviously, as per DW, players can string together combos of button presses, and in a somewhat different aspect, Koei have added to the battle with this. Players are able to upgrade their character throughout Gameplay and gain extra more elaborate combos. However, this is a bit of a moot point, because once again, it revolves around the two buttons and simply further enhances the simple mashing hack and slash Gameplay.
One interesting note is that, unlike Dynasty Warriors, players are actually forced to aid allies and such rather than leaving them and hoping they survive. If an ally calls for help you can almost guarantee that they need it. This makes battles seem a little different, but ultimately ends up more an annoyance than anything else.
|Effects are present.|
As well as the campaign mode, there is a free mode where players can play a series of scenarios without any story linking them. Both of these modes support two players, but, once again, it is only co-operative mode. It seems that we are going to have to wait yet again for a versus mode (which personally I think would extend the life of these style games immensely).
Also included with Samurai Warriors 2 is an interesting little game called Sugoroku, which is basically a themed version of monopoly. While it is very simple, it honestly is one of the more enjoyable inclusions on the disk, and with support for up to 4 players, makes for a decent hour or two games against some friends. However, this will also wear off fairly soon and after a handful of games we found ourselves looking for something else to do.
Aside from the repetitive nature of Gameplay, Samurai Warriors 2 has a few other issues that we would like to see fixed before the next release (which will no doubt happen). For instance, the game is, for the most part incredibly easy. Enemies hardly even fight back, and take only a few hits to go down and stay down. But then the enemy officers are much harder, and while the game is still fairly easy to play, taking on 3 or 4 officers is something that requires a bit more skill than the majority of battles. Knock the difficulty up to the higher levels and it becomes almost impossible to defeat them. That being said, we had no big problems with dying here, we just had to be a little more careful when facing enemy officers.
|Riding into battle...|
As Samurai Warriors 2 runs on the same engine as Dynasty Warriors 5, the two games look basically the same. Thankfully, they have increased the draw distance for this release, except for co-op mode, when the draw distance unfortunately reverts back to the familiar 5-feet distance. Some of the attacks come with pretty nice effects, but as you will be seeing them quite a lot it quickly wears thin. Character models are, once again, fairly nice to look at, but seem to out-do every other aspect of the game graphically, as levels are bland, un-detailed and looking more and more dated with every release. There are never quite as many enemies on screen as in other Koei releases, but the game still holds a strong frame-rate without ever noticeably dropping or slowing.
One thing I must mention is that, while the voiceovers for characters still feel cheesy and out of place, they are a hell of a lot better than some of the ones in Dynasty Warriors. A few characters even almost sound right here. Also improved is the music, which has a much more tribal feel to it than hard rock, though itís still nothing special. Aside from that, the usual one-liners are less repeated here and the groans and various noises made by characters during battle arenít quite as prominent. Itís a much better sounding game, but it still leaves quite a lot to be desired.
|Graphics could be better.|
So it seems that Koei have, once again, put out another mindless hack and slash, dooming what could have been a great title to sit on the shelf barely played. Thereís quite a lot to play here, and its not particularly bad, itís just that Samurai Warriors 2 is among the most stale and stagnant games you can find without going into the Dynasty Warriors series. This is definitely only going to have much appeal to die-hard fans and should be a weekend rental at best. Another very disappointing title.
Review By: Michael Hutchesson
Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version).
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|GRAPHICS||Dated, un-detailed and bland. Slightly better draw distance than usual.||61%|
|SOUND||Itís better than I expected, but the game is still better with the speakers down and some music playing.||59%|
|GAMEPLAY||Quickly becomes repetitive and boring. Based around two-button mashing mostly. The included Sugoroku board game adds a little life, as does 2-player co-op, but this isnít a game youíre likely to play for much more than unlocking characters. ||69%|
|VALUE||With 26 characters to play, thereís a lot here if you can do it. But they all play basically identically.||64%|
|OVERALL||If you have, or have played, either the Samurai Warriors or Dynasty Warriors series before, then avoid this. If you havenít, rent it before you waste your hard-earned money.||63%|