Monday, June 2, 2014

Review #118: Samurai Warriors - Chronicles

 It was high time I got another Samurai Warriors into my blog.
 Samurai Warriors Chronicles was Koei's first, and in America's case only, Warriors game on the 3DS. Since I've gone over how Warriors games work over and over in my blog, I'll just get into the differences and its unique mechanics.

 As with the rest of the Samurai Warriors games, it follows the story behind Japan's unification, from the early wars between Hojo, Takeda and Uesugi clans and goes beyond Hideyasu's unification. For this installment, they opted to do away with individual story modes, instead, you now take control of a Mercenary that goes from faction to faction waging war and winning battles. It's a very different take, and I actually liked the new angle a whole lot. It's kinda funny how your character switches sides just because, but it's nice to get the canonical development of the story. Actually, there are 5 different chapters, the first three are very straight forward, but the fourth one allows you to play on either side at will. The fifth chapter is reserved for miscellaneous battles and downloadable spot-pass levels(Which can still be gotten to this day!). The "Free Mode" that most Warriors games contain is now "included" in Story Mode(Which is the only mode in the game), as you can just replay stages by selecting them on the list.
 Character customization is fairly limited, at first you can only pick either a female or a male warrior, but as you go through Chapters you unlock a few customization options for the costume. While very few in number, your character will look like a badass regardless of how you outfit him or her! The game uses a very similar, and annoying, friendship system to Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2. By battling alongside generals, your friendship with them will increase, and after each battle you can choose to speak to certain generals to increase, or decrease if you chose the wrong answers, your friendship with them. You must also keep in mind that defeating them in battle will decrease your friendship with them. And you want to increase your friendship with them to unlock them for use when replaying stages and to unlock their weapon styles for your character to use.

 The game borrows a lot from Samurai Warriors 3, characters use their SW 3 renditions and most movesets are identical. A lot of stages are borrowed as well. Basic gameplay is the same, but with a few, and very interesting, new mechanics. For instance, you can now take up to four Generals to each stage, and can issue them to move by tapping on the touch screen. You can also freely change between all four of them, and when you are not in control, the CPU takes over them. This is something that could only be done this smoothly with the Touch screen, and it's a very fun and engaging new mechanics. The Mission system from SW 3 was altered, for worse, missions now pop up during gameplay, and now a window pops up telling you of what to do. It's not as intrusive as it sounds, but it's a bit disappointing how it brings the game to a halt. Completing missions is not mandatory, but succeeding in them lowers enemy morale, but failing them raises it. Morale affects certain areas of the map, when the morale is high, enemies get buffs while on red terrain. As great as I think the touch screen mechanics were, the mission system is more of a pain than anything.
 Samurai Warriors Chronicles looks fairly good for the amount of characters that can be on screen at the same time. The framerate is fairly consistent, even with the 3D turned on, there are instances when the Framerate will suffer a bit, but it's not too bad. Music is taken straight from SW 3, I didn't like it too much but it does fit the game. The English dub was ignored altogether, so we get the Japanese voice overs, while much higher in quality, you gotta love the campiness that English dubbed Warriors games bring us! Rounding up the presentation we have the introductory sequences before each stage, in which you get some very dull and dry looking cut-scenes which narrates the context for each battle. These get old very soon, are annoyingly long, and you can't skip them until you have beaten the stages! If they had more flavor maybe they wouldn't have been such a hindrance, but at the end of the day, they get in the way of the player bashing skulls!

 For an early 3DS game, and the first installment on the console, Samurai Warriors Chronicles fared admirably. The use they gave the touch-screen was a fantastic addition that wouldn't have worked so well on the consoles, and it's nice that they tried something different with the Story Mode, and it's a very interesting take as well. My grips with the game are few, I had fun with it, much more than I expected.
 8.0 out of 10.

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