Samurai Warriors 4-II
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox 360,
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Price: $59.99 USD – Available Here $99.95 AUD – Available Here
Around a year ago, Koei Tecmo brought us Samurai Warriors 4 for the Playstation 4, which was a rather traditional Warriors title – but still featured quite a few elements to bring the franchise into a new generation. The visuals were the greatest change, now bursting with color with silky smooth models and animation alike. Yes, it was great to see- but after a year comes Samurai Warriors 4-II. No, this is not a sequel, but a “complete edition” with a few extra characters, a couple of new stages, and a little more finish overall. How does this title stand up? Let’s find out!
Its been a while since we tread on the Sengoku period of Japan’s rich history, but Samurai Warriors 4 is intent from the start on becoming your history lesson of the era. I know, a Warriors title teaching accurate history is like a Mario title teaching kids how to be plumbers, but oddly enough, Omega Force nailed the feel for the era and have brought us some rich characters who are swept up in ugly wars, slowly peeling off layers as the player progresses and bringing true intentions and motives to the surface. War is serious, but light undertones come out frequently to give the player a chuckle, and while the game isn’t 100% true to its source material, its hard not to walk away from the many intertwining narratives satisfied, as while not all of our character’s tales are satisfying, quite a few leave a lasting impression. As you can see through a bigger picture – the story is about the same. This title does feature new character-driven scenarios, but there isn’t a lot of new meat to be had overall with this product as the upgrades are in the gameplay – more or less.
As you would expect, Samurai Warriors 4-II is not too far away from its other kin in the franchise, as it still has those same hack and slash roots showing, and does little to feel different from the other titles aside from a few unique features. Players can take advantage of a character-switch option, and go into the battlefield with two characters, where they are able to swap at the tap of a button. We have seen this before in Samurai Warriors: Chronicles for the 3DS, but the method is perfected here, as the transition is instant and seamless. The controls are tight as well, still coming off as accessible but opening up a bit later on for further techniques as the player transitions through the story. Yeah, not a lot has changed outside of a bit more polish since the third installment on the Wii (most of the 55 characters have been seen before, and no new faces truly stand out_, but racking up thousands of combos in minutes is still as exciting as it ever was, and performing the abilities on the battlefield amidst the chaos still feels like a spectacle.
The big new element of this title comes in the form of the Hyper Attack. The player can unleash a powerful, crowd-sweeping maneuver greatly assists in breaking up the slow tread of you standard hacking and slashing as you watch crowds fall quickly while you rack up kills. Rage Mode has a separate gauge, and once filled – will allow players to slow down time and perform greatly enhanced versions of their normal attacks with greater damage attached. If you perform a special attack while in this mode of combat, a more ultimate attack can be utilized, devastating the HP bars of officers, bosses, and so on. Of course timing plays in with how useful these new attacks work in your favor (as you don’t want to activate Rage on a small set of foes), but with a bit of your own strategy applied, you can definitely move at a much faster pace in this fourth installment thanks to the two new enhancements.
Speaking of strategy, this title requires it. Though early stages start out with the standard “Kill the officer fare”, later levels require the player to take out flag bearers who power up groups of enemy soldiers. It sounds small, but as the game progresses – so does the difficulty and killing that man with the flag will definitely save you some time and effort as you move on to your next locale. When it comes to modes, the standard, story-based fare is found within the chapter based Story Mode (go figure). One or two players can tackle this mode (over the network or local split screen), and for the most part, there length here is rather padded out with plenty of varied missions to partake in. I say padded as the combat never changes, but Warriors fans should not find themselves in tedium very often due to the constant streams of unlocks and new weapons that come into play. Free mode is also back, and is just a nice replay with the ability to utilize the character of your choice to take on a good number of levels. Chronicle Mode features some more original fare, with the player taking control of a custom character through a large, branching story.
So why is there a “II”? Well, that comes in with the new characters and stages. I would be lying if there were not some other upgrades as well such as a new menu to unlock abibities, endless castle mode (basically survival 2.0), some tweaks to hyper mode, and other elements that frankly feel like patchwork. Samurai Warriors 4-II is a great game and that isn’t going to change, but someone does need to let dear Koei know that putting a 2 in your title usually means sequel – rather than upgrade as this title feels like a very minor upgrade at best, as it just doesn’t have enough content to warrant a re-release.
Samurai Warriors 4 holds its own during combat. Hundreds of enemies can appear on the screen at once, and I never noticed the classic disappearing act of models or any slowdown on the Playstation 4. That being said, the models themselves are not too much more detailed than Dynasty Warriors 8 – so if you expect a huge improvement, you might want to wait until the next installment as far as visuals go. I would have to say that I was most impressed with the stunning environments within the game. Players are greeted with beautiful recreations of Japanese locations, full of color and activity. There are a few bland textures, but most of the time you will not notice them as they are covered with booming cherry blossom trees and all of the soldiers who stand in your way as you head to the next objective. The subtitles are fine, but there was a few times that dialogue sequences would block something on the screen, but alas, this can be controlled by the player to turn off these tutorials and subtitles in the options. There are also new menus and polish as well, which are indeed visibly pleasing and give the feel of a mostly new experience.
The soundtrack captures the essence of classic Japan well. It isn’t anything too memorable by any means, but these melodies are fitting and in a title where you are not going in for a lot of atmosphere, it is nice to get a good pinch from an otherwise average collection of tunes. The Japanese voices are just that, and while I personally know very little Japanese, you can still feel the emotion and at times campy over-acting from these faces in true 16th century turmoil. The general sound effects also do the job, as the sounds of a great number of blades can be heard clinking as combat is ongoing, adding a nice feeling of realism to the fight.
I guess Samurai Warriors 4 deserved a complete edition just as much as Dishonored or any other title that did well in the past without being completely groundbreaking. However, Samurai Warriors 4-II doesn’t have a ton of extra content to offer and is a bit tricky with its name, so if you already have the greatness that is Samurai Warriors 4, think about your purchase for a moment before plunging into the game great experience with a nice little facelift. Samurai Warriors 4-II at the end of the day is worth your money as it is based of one of the finest Warriors games to date – its just a shame they couldn’t have called it Samurai Warriors 4 Complete or something a bit more honest when bringing it to the west.
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