Reviewed: November 3, 2008
Released: September 23, 2008
Warriors Orochi 2 welcomes you back to the ultimate teaming up of Dynasty and Samurai Warriors. With over 90 playable characters and with new ones from Chinese and Japanese history, this is the biggest assembly of playable characters since the dawn of video games. In this iteration the serpent king (Orochi) attempts to merge 3rd century China with 16th century Japan and ultimately take over the world. This has brought unity among all of the warrior characters as they have joined forces in an attempt to stop Orochi.
The story has been conveniently divided up into five parts (Wu, Wei, Shu, Samurai, Orochi). The Orochi story is a prequel to the first game and each one is miserably pointless. The terrible voice acting is complimented by the out of place dialog. Most of the story is narrated by the same dull guy who voiced Samurai Warriors 2. There is no in fluctuation or emotion in his voice and it sounds just as if he were reading a historical article. Luckily you are able to skip this part and the boring cut-scenes (if there is one) that follow.
Gameplay takes place on large maps where you have to meet certain criteria to win. Most of the time you are trying to kill a particular general and you lose if the main camp falls. This makes trying to fight random enemies pointless and you will proceed straight to your only object (running by everything else). The only incentive for killing other enemies is to gain experience and/or collect more powerful weapons.
Before fighting you must select three playable characters that you wish to fight with. The ability to switch characters on the fly by the press of a button is a welcome option. Experience is gained by killing hundreds of people while weapons are obtained by killing commanders. You can add effects to weapons and abilities to your characters but they never seem superficial.
Besides generals or commanders the enemy AI does not attack. Like all of the warrior games before Orochi 2 the AI is stupid and will essentially wait for you to kill them. Endless amounts of identical soldiers pour out of the numerous gates unless you eliminate the gate captains. The only way to die is if there are three or more enemy officers ganging up on you and even then it is hard to.
Gameplay is often hindered by the gameís horrendous frame-rate that slows the action down to a crawl and is truly an injustice to the players and should not be tolerated. The graphics arenít good enough to justify the games terrible performance and frame-rate issues. Sure the characters have been upgraded with some decent looking (although overly shiny) armor, but every other texture in the game has not been touched and looks last-gen. The environments are simple, dull, unimaginative, and boring to say the least. Level designs arenít much better considering they only have small variances.
Musou attacks have a range of effects depending on what character you are playing as and can look spectacular at times. They become even more impressive when you initiate a team musou attack when two or all three of your characters have a full musuo gage. One of my personal favorites is a guitar attack where you spin around, knocking down enemies with sound waves.
Weather effects like snow, fog, and rain havenít seen any improvement since the last Orochi game. Rain still looks basic and has no effect on battle other than making it slightly harder to see on top of the still frustrating camera. While you have manual control over the camera it is always a hassle to deal with. Since there is still no lock-on system you will find yourself constantly adjusting the camera as you spin around combating enemies and progress through the maps.
A targeting system could have solved a lot of these issues, but the camera still feels like it is mounted too low and you are always raising it to give yourself a better view. Because of this issue and the importance of killing commanders, you will be required to watch the HUDís map at least 25% of the time. Cut-scenes come infrequently and offer nothing visually pleasing and add little to the story. To be blunt, the story feels like stand alone skirmish matches.
Orochi 2 has an amazingly high value when you consider all of the time it would take to level-up each of the 90+ characters to level 99 or even play through the five story modes. Even the two-player versus mode falls short. By this point in time KOEI should have taken the Warriors series online. There is justifiable reason why the only way to play cooperatively or competitively is split-screen. I am honestly getting tired of KOEI not listening to their fan base and the numerous reviews that have been written over various Warrior games pertaining to these same issues.
While the RPG system should be incentive enough to keep playing, itís not. I found that my only real drive to keep playing were for the achievement points. That will only keep you playing a boring game so long and the sheer amount of time it takes to earn these points is staggering. To get all the 1000 points you would have to invest at least a hundred hours. However, a lengthy campaign that you would have to repeat four times does not give this game additional value.
With a complete lack of an online component this gameís value is in the dumpster. There are several other modes to play besides the story such as free mode where you can further buildup your characters. Dream mode offers various scenarios to play through that are unlocked in story mode. In survival mode you fight endless waves of enemies. These modes are decent, but I would trade them all to go online with this game.
While Warriors Orochi 2 is a really enjoyable mindless hack and slash game, its frame-rate issues will frustrate even the most loyal of fans to their breaking point. There really is no way to recommend this game to someone other than the most hardcore of fans who will possibly find enjoyment in a faulty product. But if true fans of the series ever want it to improve they need to boycott this game because it is apparent KOEI needs a wakeup call.
While this would have been the best Warriors game to date, the frame-rate issue and other technical problems really eliminate it from contention. Hopefully KOEI will patch this game to make it more playable, but with their obvious disregard for their fan-base I doubt it.