Reviewed: October 3, 2006
Released: September 19, 2006
Omega Force is back with another samurai-styled action game that goes back into the 16th century. Published by Koei, also known for their Dynasty Warriors line, is at it again with Samurai Warriors 2. You can think of Samurai Warriors 2 almost as a playable history lesson based on the Sengoku period from Japan. Learning history, although it may not exactly be perfectly accurate, hasnít been this fun for a long time.
Samurai Warriors 2 has the following features:
Samurai Warriors 2 contains four different game modes: Story, Free, Survival, and Sugoroku. Each mode allows for two-player action except for Survival. If you arenít familiar with games like Dynasty Warriors, you may want to start off in Free mode.
Free mode allows you to select any available characters (you start off with ten to choose from). Then you choose your battlefield and difficulty and go at it. You can test out the various characters and their moves. The majority of the attacks in this game rely on button-mashing. As long as you hack away at the controller, you can do pretty decently at the game.
Once you get the hang of your character, you can hop into Story mode. Each character has his or her own storyline that you will follow. Each storyline contains five chapters. The stories intertwine rather well, so you can see different aspects of a story by playing as various characters. Now, if you start off on the Normal or Hard difficulty and your character is at level 1, you expect a butt-kicking the first handful of times you try out the first chapter. However, it shouldnít take you too long to start leveling up to a decent level.
You can also find and earn gold throughout the chapters. Earn enough gold and you can head to the shop and buy some skull-splitting weapons. If you like your weapons, you can beef up your character by buying certain attributes. You can earn certain attributes when you play a chapter, but you can usually get them more quickly by buying them.
If you feel like youíre incredibly strong, such as your character is maxed out, you can take on Survival mode. Youíll go through 30-plus floors, each floor having a different goal. Some floors even ask you questions based on history, and you answer the question by killing the person you think is correct.
Add a friend for some co-op play for Story mode to split up the action a bit. If you go in with a maxed out character and your friend is level 1, just make sure you take care of him, because the chapter ends if either of you die.
So what about this Sugoroku game thatís been added? Think Monopoly based on the feudal times in Japan with a couple of its own twists. You roll a die and try to attain as many territories as possible by buying them. Unlike Monopoly, when you land on a territory already owned by someone else, you have the option of paying the value of the territory to challenge the owner. If you win the mini-game challenge, the territory becomes yours. Itís a new way to claim rule over all Japan, but it doesnít really keep your attention or interests for long.
So why play Sugoroku? Well, it seems as though some of the characters are unlocked by winning at it. So youíll have to stick out the slow pace if you want everyone.
The game opens up with an explosive intro showing short battle sequences between various samurai and ninja warriors. To add to the opening video are about 70 more cinematics, each one rendered in detailed computer graphics. The characters and weapons are also richly detailed. Gamers that have played Dynasty Warriors should quickly recognize the influence that it has over this game.
Too bad not as much detail was given to the environments in the game. Many areas in each level look the same. Seeing as how the radar doesnít show the positioning of player two in co-op, you could have a hard time figuring out where youíre going at times.
Another plus is the framerate. Even with dozens and dozens of characters on the screen at once, the framerate doesnít really seem to be affected much. I suppose skimping on the environment has its benefits.
The music in the game sets a nice tone reminiscent of movies with samurai. The ending credits are accompanied by a soothing piece that allows you to picture the lands in a state of peace after the wars. Unfortunately, the same praise cannot be extended to the voices in the game.
It just doesnít mesh well to have a game deeply rooted in Japan and then have voice actors that obviously speak English. Some names just sound butchered when you hear them from some of the characters. The cutscenes, which are beautifully made, lose some of their edge when you hear the voice actors.
Samurai Warriors 2 will give you weeks of entertainment. With 26 characters who each have their own storylines, youíll spend a ton of hours beating each personís story. I started off the game with Ginchiyo Tachinbana and finished her story in about eight hours. Based off of that, youíre looking at around 200-plus hours of gameplay just beating each personís story. I know some of you will also want to max out your characters, too. So tack on a ton more hours to do that, and youíre left with a lot of playing time.
Although Sengoku doesnít seem like an addition that will keep a group of you and your friends up all night, co-op story will keep you busy. The tag of $39.99 doesnít really seem that high considering the amount of gaming hours youíll get out of Samurai Warriors 2. Now, if youíve played the first Samurai Warriors, you may feel like youíre just playing the same thing over again. But if you havenít, this would make a good copy to get started with.
Samurai Warriors 2 doesnít really add anything spectacular to set it apart from its predecessors, but if youíre just getting into this genre, it would worth your time. Koei mentioned the addition of Sugoroku, but it really isnít an addition that suddenly makes the game stand out from the rest.
Despite the addition of a Monopoly-based game that you might not play a whole lot of (except to unlock certain characters), it is a fun way of going through a rough history lesson of feudal Japan, although it may not be completely accurate.