One Piece: Pirate Warriors|
Okay I have to admit that I’m a big fan of Shonen Jump’s One Piece. I used to read the manga whenever I could get a copy at my local shops and watched the show as much as I could. With that said I’ll happily jump into my review of the PSN exclusive, One Piece: Pirate Warriors for the PlayStation 3.
Somewhere, the planets aligned as Tecmo Koei and Namco Bandai teamed up to bring one of the most unusual pirate adventures to bring the seven seas to life in grand fashion. One Piece: Pirate Warriors is an action combat game that follows the series through its zany and actually pretty cool storyline about a pirate by the name of Monkey D. Luffy. Luffy (to his friends and crew) sets out on the high seas to find the ultimate treasure booty, One Piece, and his dream to become the Pirate King. The would be Pirate King isn’t the only one along for the journey as popular character Nami, Usopp, Sanji, Tony Tony Chopper, and my personal favorite, Roronoa Zoro, follow Luffy in his quest and their own personal ones too.
I didn’t know what to expect of the gameplay when I loaded up One Piece: Pirate Warriors for the first time. What I found out rather quickly is that this title had some very familiar mechanics as well as some new ones to showcase the awesomeness of the One Piece franchise. If you’re familiar with Tecmo Koei’s Omega Force division then, you know that they make the Dynasty Warriors franchise as well as a few spinoffs like Gundam. One Piece: Pirate Warriors features the very basics of a “Dynasty” title at its core as you attack waves upon of waves of Luffy’s foes until the chapter comes to conclusion like an episode of the anime.
I have to say that unlike the other series I really liked One Piece: Pirate Warriors’ seemingly straight forward button-mashing combat. One of the reasons for this is that the combat is ACTUALLY fun. One Piece: Pirate Warriors features a diversified cast of characters with very unique skills that sets this game apart from all the others. First off you have Luffy, a pirate that has eaten the “Devil” Gum Gum Fruit that makes his whole body stretch like rubber. Some of his attacks are straight up devastating including one multi-fisted attack that would E. Honda blush. Even better is the ex-pirate hunter Zoro that uses not one or two but THREE swords in combat at any given time.
Attacks alone are not always enough to get you through each episode in one piece (no pun intended) though. One Piece: Pirate Warriors has a few features in place to give Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates a little edge in battle both immediately and long term. While going through each episode map you will find chests that contain valuable instant power-ups such as Health if you take a lot of damage. You’ll also find other pick-ups like SP Boost that allow you to pull off your Special Attacks more off instead of waiting to build up the SP Gauge while attacking enemies. While you navigate the levels there are coins hidden in chests in off the beaten path locations that you can find. Each of these coins has a stat bonus that are specifically beneficial to certain characters or universal ones that can give every character a boost when equipped. These coins can be used in every mode of the game.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors does have several modes in which those coins can be used. For starters, there is the Main Log where the real meat and potatoes of the game which chronicles the events of the manga and anime mainly from Luffy’s eyes. After that there is Another Log (no joke on the name) which allows you to tackle the episodes as other characters in a free play mode of sorts. Doing Another Log is a great way to level up the characters that you don’t use very often and to score some extra coins or trophies along the way.
The only issue that I had with the game is the camera controls which hasn’t changed much in every other “Dynasty’ spinoff that I’ve played. There is a target lock function but this really doesn’t help much when you’re trying to target one enemy out of twenty on the screen. If you’re tired of playing alone you can bring along a friend and play Another Log and the unlocked Challenges mode (after beating Main Log) in some 2 player split-screen action. Perhaps the lasting appeal to current and hopefully new One Piece fans will be the Online Mode in which up to 4 people can join up in even 2 on 2 teams and fight to win episodes. From what I’ve seen of the online community via the “Wanted Ranks”, One Piece: Pirate Warriors is already a huge hit across the globe. It also looks like One Piece: Pirate Warriors could see some DLC in the future courtesy of the Downloads option on the main menu.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors didn’t just have addicting gameplay for me but amazing visuals as well. For starters, the cel-shaded CG characters of all my favorite characters are so brilliantly recreated for this game that I felt like I was controlling the show itself. Mixed with the colorfully and artistically recreated locales from the show, right down to the battle locations and events there isn’t enough words that I can use to describe how much I love the look and feel of One Piece: Pirate Warriors. One of the really cool things about One Piece: Pirate Warriors is the developer’s clever use of “events” that highlight Luffy’s abilities via QTE’s that I for once had no issues doing as they were so much fun. This really helped drive home the “anime” action via speed lines and wicked camera angles.
To accompany the anime vibe, One Piece: Pirate Warriors comes with a really cool score that is full of tracks that you would expect to find in anime and not a rock concert like some of the Dynasty guitar riffs that I remember. When the music is not upbeat during fighting your treated to some calm almost laid back tunes as the story progresses similar to what you hear on the main menu. I have to say it was a rare treat that we folks here in North America got to experience One Piece: Pirate Warriors as most One Piece titles never leave the shores of Japan. One that note I will mention that Pirate Warriors is entirely spoken in Japanese, with English subs of course. So for those of you who prefer hearing your anime in English you’ll find yourself a bit disappointed. I personally like it as it is as the characters come off as more “alive” in their native tongue.
As I played through One Piece: Pirate Warriors for this review, I couldn’t help but feel like Eiichiro Oda, writer and illustrator of One Piece, was there as I moped the floor with Luffy’s enemies. The attention to the artistic and fundamental details of the One Piece story were brilliantly brought to life in the hands of the folks at Omega Force and I can’t recall having this much fun in an anime based game in my years of gaming. One Piece: Pirate Warriors isn’t a perfect game but I’m sure that Oda is as proud of it as I am of owning it. If you love One Piece then you have to set sail for the Grand Line in One Piece: Pirate Warriors exclusively on the PlayStation network for the PS3.