Sunday, July 13, 2014

Samurai Warriors 4 (Sengoku Musou 4) In-Depth Review


Note: This review is based upon the Japanese version of the game (Sengoku Musou 4) and uses translated names. English names of certain things may be different in the English release.

INTRODUCTION


KOEI TECMO's Samurai Warriors series has occasionally been undermined as the unexplored sister series to the more widely popular Dynasty Warriors series. That to which is a shame, as Samurai Warriors at certain times in its history are eminently less rehashed and more developed in comparison to its Dynasty Warriors counterparts.

2014 marks the 10th anniversary of Samurai Warriors, with the initial Samurai Warriors dating back to 2004 on the Playstation 2. In its celebration, KOEI TECMO has decided to unleash the long awaited next installment to Samurai Warriors—Samurai Warriors 4, which has been in secret production for at least a year or more. Samurai Warriors carries on the same iconic game formula of Dynasty Warriors: a simplified hack and slasher that couples mindless army killing with unparalleled character roster. The only difference being that one takes place in Japan and the other in China. Can you guess which one is which?

When Samurai Warriors 3 debuted on Wii, players were confused and indignant to the abrupt dominant Sony platform switch to Nintendo. There's not a lick to worry here however, as Samurai Warriors 4 has sailed back to its roots as a Playstation 3 and later Playstation 4 title.

GAME MODES


Samurai Warriors 4 is divided into three main game modes, edit mode, gallery, encyclopedia and of course compulsory game options. For the sake of not detailing the unnecessary, I'm only going to focus on the main game modes as well as touch briefly on edit mode.

STORY MODE: The predominant Story Mode in Warriors games is like a child that can't make up its mind. One day it is character based, where stories are all divided up individually to every playable character. The other day it is region/clan based, where stories are bunched together as larger regions/clans. Samurai Warriors 4 goes back to being the less vast latter. This negatively cuts the longevity of Story Mode to a great deal in comparison to Samurai Warriors 3, which was thoroughly character based.

There are a few pros to being region/clan based, regardless. You have the freedom to swap out your characters prior to playing each stage, rather than be permanently affixed to one person the entire way through. If you're interested in playing this game for its historical retelling, I guess playing as regions/clans will offer you a much quicker knowledge and experience of the story, as opposed to playing individual character stories on at a time.

Story mode scenario selection
The implementation of Samurai Warriors 4's Story Mode is quite remarkably similar to that of Dynasty Warriors 8. Scenarios of specific regions/clans can be chosen, thereafter will be several episodes (stages) to clear from within. If enough scenarios are cleared, then additional ones are unlocked. A direct deposit from Dynasty Warriors 8 are also branching paths that are injected usually near the final bits of a story, usually swapping sides of the army you are playing for and against. Being in close proximity to the end means that separate branches are only up to two stages in size and moreover there are no three branch setups of any kind, shamefully. Additionally, once you travel up the to branch point, you can select which branch to play right off the bat without restriction. In other words, there are no requirements to unlock the top or bottom one as opposed to Dynasty Warriors 8. Gaiden episodes also makes a return in Samurai Warriors 4, filling in some extra bits for several scenarios.

Another problem of Story Mode lies within the amount of length and its annoying inconsistencies. The majority of scenarios are constructed of only three or four mere total episodes, dismissing Gaiden episodes. A few sprinkle of scenarios may establish more, but the lengthiest are only around eight episodes long. Coupled with the rather low amount of scenarios to chose from and unlock, don't be utmost surprised if you end up finishing the game's Story Mode swifter than prior Warriors games.

The game has a new conversation feature where certain characters will be interacting with one another face to face almost constantly throughout Story Mode. These bits aren't too terribly interesting, as characters are placed motionless on a blurry backdrop, talking to each other non-stop, while you have to listen or read and press a bunch of text dialogue boxes. Moreover, these "cutscenes" aren't exactly beneficial as you are never allowed to make choices during all the talking. That is a definite heavy blow to something that can be made substantial, as allowing the player to make choices that can effect the storyline and its consequent branches would be glorious. Too bad they skimped over that.

The conversations aren't actually detrimental to the game, as they help aid the storyline in places where battles aren't erupting and characters just simply need to talk with one another. The earlier games didn't have these drawn out bits nevertheless and the storyline experience fared about the same. The less time spent out of battle the better. No one wants to always sit around idle while there is another enormous battlefield to slay thousands upon!

Talk is cheap, just bring it!
Speaking of cutscenes, I regret to say that Samurai Warriors 4 has just about the least amount of CGI cutscenes in comparison to any current Warriors game. In the past, all endings were done in dazzling CGI, whereas in this game only a hand selected few endings are actually honored with that prize; the rest dumped with in-game rendering.

All in all, while Story Mode gets the job adequately done, I'm not ecstatic to reach a conclusion that this game's Story Mode is quite an inferiority compared to Dynasty Warriors 8's. Then again, Dynasty Warriors 8 has one of the best story modes in any Warriors game for a long time, so it will be a challenge to match it. Still, I expect KOEI TECMO to at least carry on a great establishment, rather than taking lots of step backwards for their next game.

FREE MODE: There isn't much I need to say much about this mode, really. If you played the many multitude of Warriors games, you'll realize that Free Mode is simply a mode where you are essentially freed from your chains and shackles of restriction in other modes such as Story Mode. In other words, you are free to select any character and play in any stage without restrictions. Capeesh?

CHRONICLE MODE: Chronicle Mode is designed specifically for CAW, or Create-a-Warrior, which is what we like to call the custom characters we design in Warriors games.

It basically tries to reenact Mercenary Mode seen in other Warriors games, borrowing traits from Samurai Warriors Chronicles' main story mode.

After selecting your CAW, you start off as a mercenary and are given the choice to start under several factions that are mentioned in story mode. After pledging your allegiance, you can then travel through different provinces of Japan's Warring States in order to complete various requests given to you by the main cast.

Map of the Warring States of Japan in Chronicle Mode
Characters from the main cast are scattered throughout specific points on the map, giving you options of befriending or alienating them through personal conversations, fighting them in battle or traveling with them. Personal conversations that are engaged carry the same setup as ones that occur in story mode. The only notable difference here is that your character can actually make a two choice statement or decision during the chit-chat, with one raising your affinity with a character and the other lowering it. By raising your affinity high enough with a certain character, his or her conversation will change during battle. By raising it to max, you can then unlock that character's moveset/weapon to use within character creation. A secondary character can also accompany you through your travels depending on your relationship with them, fighting alongside you on the battlefield.

There's a lot of choice making in Chronicle Mode, LOTS...
A nice feature of this mode is the ability to swap in and out characters as you please, even edit your CAWs during play. Hence, you are not locked to one character the entire time, which is a definite necessity as Chronicle Mode takes an enormously long time to finish.

EDIT MODE: If you sadly recalled the character creation from Samurai Warriors 3, you'll be laughing at yourself like a hyena if you consider calling it anything other than a giant pile of excrement. I'm sorry, but it's the truth. In fact, the sheer memory of editing any kind of "custom" character in Samurai Warriors 3 gives me brain cancer, from just even thinking of its limitation and very little actual customizing.

Well, I'd say if you yell at a company enough and lend them a chance, they can likely improve. Elation ensues, and I have to say KOEI TECMO delivered well in the character creation department of Samurai Warriors 4, offering the best yet editor in any of their Warriors games. Regardless, I will shudder and call inappropriate names at anyone even attempting to label this mode as new, as aside from a few minor features and new parts thrown in, it's an exact replica from Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires. But hey, why fix what's not broken right?

So if you happen to be joyful of the character creation in Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires, then be grateful that there's not much that's going to disappoint, with the exception of the obvious lack of Chinese clothing in exchange for Japanese (although some of these clothing may just scream "Chinapan!").

Looks familiar? You're not alone...
Okay, I will have to stop and briefly mention one of the more unique features that have been added in character creation in Samurai Warriors 4, which is the ability to upload custom photos from your Playstation 3's hard drive and display them in-game on a variety of decorations for your character. These can include your character's portrait, musou finisher symbol and even crest on your clothing. I bet in no time there's going to be a slew of inappropriate usages of this feature online, so much that KOEI TECMO may be needing to hire special personnel to monitor everyone's custom photos.

GAMEPLAY AND CHARACTERS


If there's one thing that rival game developers envy any Warriors game on, it would have to be the ridiculous amount of unique, playable characters that keeps piling up after every new trillionth release. Why am I not rolling my eyes that Samurai Warriors 4 continues that tradition by expanding that table of characters further?

So there it be—nine wholly new Japanese characters are introduced, including such names as Nobuyuki Sanada, Yoshitsugu Ōtani, Hisahide Matsunaga, Koshōshō‎‎, Lady Hayakawa, Kojūrō Katakura and others. Now is that a mouthful of foreign names or what? That's not all, adding further from Samurai Warriors 3's roster are returning new characters from Samurai Warriors Chronicles 2nd, including Takatora Tōdō (Ice Man), Naotora li (Japan's biggest stereotypical woman) and Munenori Yagyū (Japan's answer to Zhou Tai).

New cast of characters. Lots to like, some to despise... maybe.
A fellow viewer did brought up a valid complaint regarding the new characters, which was basically—"RECYCLED WEAPONS, RECYCLED WEAPONS AND RECYCLED WEAPONS!!!". True, some of the weapons these new characters wield look as if they blatantly stole them from existing Dynasty Warriors characters and re-equip them with new movesets (those cheeky bastards!), but come on... How many types of weaponry exist on Earth that are actually unique to one another? After a few hundred movesets, there's no doubt that some weapons start appearing scarily similar to one another. In fact, a better statement would have simply been—"Thanks Japan for not going too crazy ape sh*t with us on the weapons, as if they are not already unrealistic enough!".

What KOEI TECMO did go a little overboard on however was rather character design. Take Koshōshō‎‎ for example, which is just about the most unconvincing Japanese person one can imagine, feudal wise. She's a love woman alright and surely an undeniable great sex demon, but why does her shockingly realistic orange pink hair resembles an afro?!

A long time ago in Japan, once lived this very woman...
Jokes aside, the majority of new characters are actually great and uniquely done from their attires, personalities and weapons/movesets. The only other character I tend to cringe at is Hisahide Matsunaga, which is like KOEI TECMO attempting to craft their own Spider Man, ugh...

Gameplay wise, you won't find it a surprise of the century that Samurai Warriors 4 behaves largely identical to Samurai Warriors 3 in the gameplay department. Of course, that foundation is both improved and dug upon with the implementation of the new and scrapping of the old.

Let's take a step back and reminiscent a bit for unfamiliar folks who have never touched a Warriors game, and lightly skim over the basics of gameplay:

In any Warriors game, after you selected your killing machine of choice, you are placed upon an usually overly large battlefield that are comprised of minions of your own army as well as the enemy's. You are free to roam around the battlefield, either by traveling via foot or more fortunate methods such as horses and bears, slaying army peon fodder and occasionally higher class officers as you please. Completing a stage requires you to complete one or more missions, that will usually guide you step by step through the stage from point A to point B. The final mission will predominately involve killing off a boss NPC or reaching an escape point.

But the point of these games are not strictly about a one man/woman army massacring everything, as you are also required to feed attention and focus to your own army, including assuring important officers are kept alive, escorting them or defending crucial areas of the map such as your main camp from enemy attacks. This is also where your morale bar comes into play, as ensuring it is kept high through killing and successful missions will more guarantee you success of your army being victorious.

If you like this screenshot, this game may be for you.
The combat system in Warriors games are comprised of two primary types of attacks—normal and strong (sometimes also referred to as charge attacks). Normal attacks are regular attacks executed using the square button (up to 8 consecutive times), but can be immediately followed up with a strong attack by pressing the triangle button after a certain amount of normal attacks are executed, which will vary dependent on character. Thus, a variety of combos can be developed using these attacks. Also in your combat arsenal is Musou, or a more powerful attack that will require your Musou bar to be filled by at least one bar (raised by killing enemies, using items or collecting pickups). In Samurai Warriors 3, Ultimate Musou was additionally added that was unleashed when the newly introduced spirit bar was fully maxed and a Musou was performed.

In your defense arsenal, you have the ability to guard and side step. In Samurai Warriors 3, you also had a roll, which allowed you to evade farther than a side step. This roll has been removed from Samurai Warriors 4, which is completely silly, as both the side step and roll serves different purposes and should not really be interchangeable.

In Samurai Warriors 4, an entirely new attack string was added aside from normal and strong, called "Hyper Attack" or "Shinsoku Action", initiated using solely the triangle button. Therefore, this also entirely eliminates the C1 (first strong attack) of every character. This is a faster type of attack that continuously rushes the enemy at swift speeds and allows easier group damage; however, are completely ineffective against officers. Hyper Attack works similarly to normal attacks in which a new attack can be executed following every successful one. Finally, different attacks can be carried out by using the square button instead of triangle after every Hyper Attack (e.g. triangle, triangle, square), much like how normal and strong works.


Confused or think the above is all a bunch of mumbo jumbo? Why don't you take a look at the video above, which exemplifies both normal and strong attacks as well as Hyper Attack in the first few minutes of gameplay.

Hyper Attack does add a bit of intricacy and benefit in the combat system that helps elevate Samurai Warriors 4's combat system further away from dullness. I'm sure players will appreciate another welcomed ability to not only kill groups of enemies faster without any sacrifice (because what is a thousand enemies if you can't kill them screamingly fast?), but also help plow through the battlefield without the constant need to hop on and off a horse all the time.

Hyper attacks are a completely new set of attacks with lots of possibilities.
Samurai Warriors 4's Musou takes on several unexpected twists. The most noteworthy is that all characters are now blessed with an elaborate finisher that is injected at the end of their regular Musous, adding on further possible damage from the set in stone original Musou attacks, which has not surprisingly been altered. A few unwanted negatives have reared their ugly heads up because of this. First of which is that Musous can no longer be manually and tightly controlled like in previous Samurai Warriors. What do I mean by that exactly? In previous Samurai Warriors, one could press the Musou button, release it, still be in their invulnerable Musou state and carry out regular normal and strong attacks, even travel until their Musou bar was depleted. They could also return to their Musou attack animation by pressing and holding the Musou button again during the Musou. This has been entirely thrown out the window in Samurai Warriors 4 for no particular reason, and one of the first reasons of why I consider the combat system being simplified in the depth department. Another minor gripe is that all Musou finishers contains several seconds of stylish, close-up shots of the character posing before the actual attack that you are required to always watch. Sure, it looks pretty sweet and awesome the first time you see it, but after being forced to watch it every time you pull off your Musou, it almost urges you to not wish to execute your Musou anymore. Simply being able to skip such useless interruption would be a welcomed addition.

Musou finisher close-ups: Awesome and annoying at the same time.
A feature called "Rage" has returned from Dynasty Warriors 8 and works how you expect it to. When you max out your spirit gauge, you can use it to instantly dive into rage mode, temporarily increasing your overall stats such as attack power, attack speed and defense. May you imagine what on Earth happens when you perform a Musou in this rage state? Yup, you perform your Ultimate Musou, which has not been tampered with from Samurai Warriors 3. Because of rage implementation, you can no longer execute your Ultimate Musou simply by maxing your spirit gauge. You now have to enter rage mode and only then can you unleash your ultimate attack of death and destruction you so love.

Say, have you ever desired to instant kill an enemy, especially when their health is so low they should be considered graveyard material already? Well rejoice, as you now can with a new ability called "Mighty Strike", which is just that—instant kill an enemy (officer only) when their health is low. Triggering Mighty Strike requires you to just wail on your poor victim until their health becomes low enough to pop up the an alert icon above their heads, and then executing them in devilish ways with the triangle button. Mighty Strikes can also be manually triggered all the time by side stepping into their attacks. If you time it just right, you can immediately break their guards and perform a Mighty Strike that way. Of course, instant killing with Mighty Strike is only available if the officer's health is low, so performing a Mighty Strike anytime else and the officer will very likely still be well breathing afterwards. Nevertheless, Mighty Strikes that doesn't instant kill can be beneficial to help open up for your initial attacks on officers (so long as you aren't actually pressing triangle to perform them).

Mighty Strike is not perfectly well implemented. For instance, there should definitely more open time and less punishment to execute them. Often times, you're so busy wailing on an officer that you don't even realize the opportunity for Mighty Strike pops up until it's too late. If you simply do a consecutive attack during the trigger time and hit the officer, the option for performing Mighty Strike will go away instantly. It will not return either until you manually trigger it with side step or attempt to wail on them again until it pops up. Sometimes the latter fails to work; so you're back to square one killing the officer the long way.

Mighty Strike is also a potential to lower the overall difficulty of the game, as it becomes easier to kill officers quickly and triggering it with side step is undeniably easy to perform. If you master the art of Mighty Strike with side step, officers will not even have a chance to attack you.

Something a lot more interesting than Mighty Strike is the game implementing straight out character switching in midst of battle. No, this isn't your expected Musou Orochi style character switching where all characters are meshed up together in one being all the time like some mutant bizarre freak, but works more in the lines of Samurai Warriors Chronicles. Two characters are always needed to be selected prior to entering the battlefield, but they remain completely independent beings from one another, traveling and fighting on the battlefield separately. Switching between another character is instant without any delays, and you can easily monitor your secondary character's location and stats including health and defense all the time. While you control one character, the other character will be controlled by the AI. This artificial controlling can pose a problem on higher difficulties, where the AI of your other character will sometimes not act the way you want them to. In the worst case scenario they can get themselves killed, ending your game abruptly.

Two characters are allowed for selection, allowing instant switching during gameplay.
Proficiency levels are now present in this game, but affixed to character attacks categorized in—normal attack, strong attack, special skill, and hyper attack. Wait, you have to level up certain types of attack for each character?! Yes, that does seem a bit weird to you, correct? Well, in a game sense it's sensible as players can build up stronger attacks in which they frequently use the most. Regrettably, leveling any category to the max 20 is definitely no walk in the park and requires much dedicated effort. Therefore, if you hated the grinding in previous games, the grinding here with these proficiency levels will make you hate them more... Oh so much more.

Consumable items gets a bit of an overhaul in Samurai Warriors 4, but not to an enormous extent. The most significant change is that you can now freely choose and customize each item you want to take with you on the battlefield. Yeah, I ain't dreaming a good dream here, but there is absolutely no more of that ludicrous three items presets for each stage from the third game. An abundance of new items are also introduced, but more particular noteworthy are that each item has three sets of levels, increasing in their efficiency the higher the level. Individual special items cast into character's faces are available to equip, and these all do various different effects, but most are derived from an attack or special ability of that particular character.

The weapons system keeps it traditional by reusing the weapon system introduced in the third game, adding and subtracting a couple minor features, leaving it largely stagnant and rather displeasing. Any kind of tailored weapon customization is incredibly difficult and inane to even think about, as attributes are set in stone on every weapon purchased or picked up. Attack power can moreover only be increased with a certain type of attribute, which isn't guaranteed to be a selection for every weapon. Samurai Warriors 4 has additionally eliminated the three class weapon system from the third game; that is speed, normal and power. This class elimination can be considered a sin to some and a blessing for others. Players who appreciated a bit more depth and variability in the weapon system will likely be disappointed that their weapon choices are now more limited. Others will be glad that they no longer have to worry about weapon classes weighing them down, as all regular weapons are now created equal.

Developing weapon attributes to higher levels are done by utilizing gems collected or purchased. A big pro of the new weapon system are the ability to donate any weapon from any character to one another; however, all leveled attributes on that weapon will be lost during the transfer. A second pro is that any weapons picked up during gameplay will belong to the character who picked it up only, so it helps shed down the enormous randomness of weapon collecting in the past.

I honestly think having gone through so many iterations of Warriors games, including giving players much more freedom in customizing their weapons in newer Warriors games, KOEI TECMO has decided to stick with its annoying restricted weapon system that's antiquated and five years old. Why, why and why is the only thing I can say.

Finally, do you remember armor and boots that can be equipped in Samurai Warriors 3? Of course you do. Well, they are gone in Samurai Warriors 4. Just trashed, wiped off the face of the planet. If you have a fond memory, you'll recall that both armor and boots can add a significant amount of various attributes to your character when equipped, usually non-offensive related. The attributes range from increasing your spirit charge distance, allowing you to spirit charge without depleting your spirit gauge, increase invulnerability from side stepping/rolling and others. Now that both of these are annihilated, every attribute, even if they are not offensive related, have to be jammed into your weapons, creating sometimes a bloody mess. The worst part about all of this is that lots of beneficial attributes from Samurai Warriors 3 were lost because of the axe, including most of the ones I mentioned above. Moreover, you have less total attributes to develop your character, as again every attribute are derived from your weapons only.

AI AND DIFFICULTY


Samurai Warriors 4's difficulty is definitely more challenging than Dynasty Warriors 8 and about equally challenging as Dynasty Warriors 8: XL, but regrettably lags behind in the AI department of literally almost any current Warriors release.

The game has four difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, Hard and Hell. The jump from one difficulty to another is sometimes abrupt and not as smooth as it should be. For instance, normal to hard has a more lenient difficulty increase that's somewhat discernible. From hard to hell however the jump in difficulty is much wider, as hell is almost literally twice as difficult as hard was.

There's always two primary ways to increase difficulty in most games—one is to increase the AI and have the player work harder to be successful, the other is to just ramp up enemy defense and damage. The best difficulty implementations in games are to have a perfect balance of the two.

Unfortunately, Samurai Warriors 4 does much more of the latter than the former, throwing on as much damage and defense amplification to the enemies as possible on Hell difficulty while neglecting the actual AI. Who would have guessed, right? It's apparent that AI seems to be a particular problematic point for Warriors games since literally forever. On the other hand, this also makes me a bit frustrated and sad, because KOEI TECMO has almost perfected, or rather produced really great human-like AI in Musou Orochi 2 Ultimate, but only in Unlimited Mode. So why do they keep bringing in low quality AI that tarnishes the difficulty of their games?

The enemy AI, even on Hell difficulty, do not pose too much of a threat so long as you are avoiding their few attacks they throw from time to them. Officers almost never execute their musous, do long combos or dodge attacks. Be forewarned that some of them will love hyper attacking you to death, however. I dare to say that the most harsh part is actually avoiding being ganged up upon, as that usually causes instant death.

Officers also now have their usual ability to recover by somersaulting when they hit the ground or in the air during certain player attacks, rendering juggles much less efficient then previously. In Samurai Warriors 3, juggling officers could become infinite so long as you had enough spirit gauge and continuously abuse the spirit charge, because officers back then had literally zero recovery. The recovery speed for officers in this game is perhaps one of the fastest in any Warriors game. Hence, if you plan on pulling off combos via juggles, expect it to be prominently more difficult than ever.

Going back to character switching, you'll remember what I said earlier that this feature can impact difficulty in a great way. Basically, you now have to not only worry about your controlled character's well-being, but your partner's as well. Since your partner is automatically controlled by the AI when you aren't controlling them, and pairing that with not a game's greatest AI, you'll find common instances where they can just rush into a group of enemies and kill themselves. Thus, this game absolutely requires you to constantly switch back and forth characters all the time on higher difficulties to ensure you won't be suddenly greeted with the game over screen.

With the implementation of Hyper Attack, Rage, easily abused Mighty Strike and such broken weapon attributes as 克己 (self-control), a player can breeze through a max star stage in Hell difficulty without a weighty amount of sweat loss, not even mentioning all the items they can additionally bring along to help amplify their ownage.

Nevertheless, I'm not saying that Samurai Warriors 4 is an easy game. It is easy if you purposely make yourself broken and be abusing the combat system. That in itself is not easy due to the game's lottery styled weapon system and requirement of heavy grinding. If you go in unprepared or normally prepared, you can easily expect some of the best challenge you will experience in a Warriors game in awhile. Again, just don't expect miracles in the enemy AI.

GRAPHICS


Who actually talks about graphics in Warriors games should be ashamed of themselves, as these types of games are always focused on filling the screen with as much junk as possible without degrading frame rate. That of course comes at a cost of reducing overall graphics quality. Compared to other games where things are less hectic and much less has to get rendered, overall graphics will suffer in Warriors games in comparison simply because of its nature.

Still, KOEI TECMO seem to be always be hopping through hoops attempting to improve their graphics in Warriors games further and further. With the now next-gen Playstation 4 and Xbox One available, graphics for these games are better than they have ever been.

The PS3 version of Samurai Warriors 4 graphically is about what you'd expect for this type of game—not great and not terrible. Sure, it looks dated by at least one console generation in comparison to other games, but at least it's still a remarkable step up from the previous Samurai Warriors. I actually went and played Samurai Warriors 3 again for the first time in years on the Wii, and that game seriously made Samurai Warriors 4 look like a game that belonged on a future console, like a PS5!

Graphics aren't winning any awards, but still manages to please the eye.
The most important bit regarding graphics is at utmost the frame rate, which is surprisingly very solid. There is almost literally no hints of slow down regardless of how much stuff flies on the screen, and trust me, stuff are flying everywhere literally every second.

AUDIO AND MUSIC


Rock tunes mixed with oriental instruments fill the speakers in Dynasty Warriors games, but Samurai Warriors takes a different approach and shifts its music more towards club, dance and techno. Both genres are of course pumped and energetic enough to get most players excited towards ravaging the battlefields. A blend of Japanese instruments in conjunction with more mellow tracks makes the soundtrack to Samurai Warriors 4 very nice and diverse. You'll also be treated with the obligatory and popular remix tracks of Honda Tadakatsu's theme, Anegawa and others.

Japanese voice overs are unstained and phenomenal for the most part, with voice actors rarely ever changing their roles for returning characters unlike the sloppy mess that's embarrassingly evident in English localizations. Voice overs for the new characters fits their personality well, even if I have to admit some of them can be overly grating to the ears.

REPLAYABILITY


There is no denying the potential for virtually unlimited gameplay length given how much underlying stuff there is to accomplish and unlock in Samurai Warriors or virtually any other Warriors games. That is of course only if you are committed to and thoroughly enjoy the game in the first place.

Still, this isn't a type of game that is meant to be played hours on end without break. Literally any type of hack and slash game will wear out your fingers and thumbs and turn very monotonous and repetitive after a few hours, the exact same can be said to Samurai Warriors 4.

CONCLUSION


While Samurai Warriors 4 is a good Warriors game on its own, it doesn't necessarily exceed in rivaling its current Dynasty Warriors counterparts nor greatly improve upon Samurai Warriors 3 as one would have hoped. There's not a whole lot of new that's refreshing, and several areas of refreshment in the third game has been wholly scrapped in 4. The results is that Samurai Warriors 4 is simply just a sufficient step upwards from 3, while a step backwards in a few cases. Another unmentioned area is combat depth, where Samurai Warriors 4 is shamefully lacking, as the combat system hasn't been nearly evolved or contain as much intricacy as either Dynasty Warriors 7 or 8. In both Dynasty Warriors 7 and 8, many Earth shattering advanced combat techniques can be done because of the game's diverse weapon swapping system coupled with better character classes and types. The same cannot be said to Samurai Warriors 4's more back to roots, simplified combat style.

One thing can certainly be said however—never has a Warriors game been so stylish looking with so much on-screen flash. Samurai Warriors 4 is the utmost king of that at current for sure; the amount of bright lights and flashes this game throws at a mortal can render them blind, literally. But without a lot of depth tacked on the actual combat, that becomes less relevant as more advanced players will be more dreary of its not particularly deep combat system. There is no fighting game equivalent combat system to see here, basically.

Nevertheless, the majority of players who play any Warriors game usually don't play it to experience deep combat, do they? Of course not. They simply wish to just delve in, release tension and slay thousands of army fodders to satisfy their inner evilness. If that's your type of thing, then rest assured Samurai Warriors 4 will definitely make you a happy person. For the rest, I'm sure you'll find yourself more at home with Dynasty Warriors 7, 8, Musou Orochi or even the Sengoku Basara series.

OVERALL RATING: 7.0/10

 


5 comments:

  1. hello,

    was wondering if u know a way to change the custom/created character's portraits, musou kanji and body crest for the PS4 version using our own images? I know on PS3 we need only to simply upload/saving the images we have on our PS3 hardisk but how about PS4? becos PS4 have not implement the ability to detect any external pendrive or hardisk and yet to even save/play any images/video on the PS4...

    pls help... thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah you can, using a USB memory stick put the image in a folder named "KTG" and you can register the image up to 20 for profiles and crests and 40 for the musou attack.

      Delete
  2. Totally agree on your opinion about some of the character designs. I don't like Koshosho primarily because of her design (REALLY OUT OF PLACE). Probably the first time I disliked a character in the warriors series because of appearance.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Any idea how to increase ujiyasu hojo's special skill proficiency? I keep using R1 and killing the enemies within his smokescreen but the special skill remains at level 1.

    ReplyDelete
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