Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review #323: Samurai Warriors 4-II

 And now, for an actually decent Musou game...
 After Ken's Rage 2's poor showing, I was scared; was I finally getting tired of the Musou genre? I mean, I've probably played more of these games than most people on the west, and while they are not as similar between each other as people make them out to be, the basics are the same: Mash that square button, with the occasional triangle tap, and mow down hundreds upon hundreds of runts. Well, Samurai Warriors 4-II has its fair share of new ideas, and they work out pretty well.

 The game's story is... if you care about story, you're better of playing vanilla Samurai Warriors 4. 4-II's story is divided in 13 campaigns, made out of 5 missions each, although there's a few repeats here and there, some being identical repeats at that. These stories seem to be noncanonical, with a few even contradicting each other, so I must insist, if you care about a more faithful representation of the Sengoku period's history, you'r better off with vanilla SW4. Speaking of vanilla, I didn't play the original release, so this is my first, and only, taste of SW4 and.... some of the character designs are atrocious. Naotora Li in particular is unbearable, with one of the worst personalities in a Warriors game EVER, and Koshosho.... what... what the beep where they thinking? Another thin to keep in mind, is that there are no alternate costumes or colors, barring towell outfits for Naotora and Chokosho, because Japan and Fanservice go hand in hand, god forbid they forget about pandering.
 The first, and best, new addition is the Hyper Attacks. Warriors games always give you a single chain of attacks, done by pressing square, while you can use triangle to finish these combos in different ways, which is why I like to call the triangle the 'modifier button'. Well, Hyper attacks are dashing, high-speed attacks chained by tapping triangle, with square giving you different ways to end the hyper attack combos depending on when you press it. Hyper attacks are a blast to pull off, and allow you to cover a lot of terrain, quickly, while scoring dozens of kills. That said, enemy generals(The enemies that have proper names instead of being cannon fodder) will reflect hyper attacks, and trying to use them in high-morale enemy areas(Areas displayed in red in the minimap) will result in them doing less damage. It makes sense, they are rather overpowered, but the thing about the morale system... is that characters are divided into types: Power-oriented characters get multi-triangle finishers, Normal-oriented characters get longer square chains, Special-oriented characters get different unique skills, while Hyper-oriented characters get longer Hyper attack chains. The problem lies with the morale system.

 Y'see, sub-missions are back. These absolutely ruined Samurai Warriors on the 3DS for me, since they kept bringing the game to a halt. Luckily, now you can turn off the game-pausing notifications n the options menu. Anyways, successfully clearing them will lower the enemy morale, and thus decrease their red areas. Problem being that it's rather easy to screw yourself out of these missions. Maybe you killed someone right before the mission told you not to. Maybe you went in a different direction and you are now too far away to complete it. In these cases you will have to deal with red areas, which can really handicap Hyper oriented characters. Yeah, I'm not much of a fan of sub-missions, since I don't like being told how to tackle the stage, but it's downright annoying having to deal with red areas just because you decided to venture too far away from the next objective. For what it's worth, on the easier difficulties, red areas aren't too bad.
 The other big change comes in the game allowing you to pick two different characters for each stage, and you can change characters on the fly by tapping the select button. And you can also give them simple orders by tapping up on the directional pad. They work well, and it's fun being able to cover more ground at the tap of the button, just keep in mind that if either character dies, it's game over. Musou Attacks have been changed as well, previously(At least in SW3 and Chronicles), you had to hold the Musou Button to pull of the attack, now you simply tap it and the character executes it... but there's also a Rage mode. There's a 5 tier gauge that can be used to dodge certain attacks, break enemy guards, or when filled, activate rage mode. You do more damage, and you get a different, stronger, Musou attack. Lastly, defeated generals may drop weapons, horses or tomes. Weapons and Horses are enhanced by 'fusing' them with other weapons or horses of their type, but tomes are used to enhance your character, by spending them on a grid. There's a ton of different passive and active skills to earn, and I actually really liked the grid system.

 Lastly, after you are are done with Story Mode, or replaying stages in Free Mode, there's a new mode, Survival. Survival is made up of two different towers, which you must climb in order to gain loot, unlock a few characters and... bragging rights. I rather liked the mode, each tower has different 'challenges' or goals, and it gets harder as you go along, and dying means losing your loot, which is why after clearing every floor you get the option to turn tail and keep your spoils. There's also a fairly decent create a character mode, although you can only use your character in Free and Survival Modes.
 The Vita port runs surprisingly well. When there's a ton of units on the screen, a few may disappear, but it's not too bad, and the framerate is decent. It can struggle a bit in stages with water, but it's fairly consistent 30 fps or so most of the time. I mean, it's not perfect, but it's playable, and it's great to finally have a decent Warriors game on the go, after Chronicles left such a sour taste on my mouth.

 Samurai Warriors 4-II takes a lot of steps in the right direction for the franchise. It's a fun game to play when all you want is mindless action. That said... what's up with some of the character designs? And what's up with Naotora? Do we really need waifus in Samurai Warriors? I guess the poor story is excusable considering this is a side game.
 8.0 out of 10

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