Saturday, July 23, 2016

Review #340: One Piece - Pirate Warriors 3

 Gomu gomu no Musou.
 Pirate Warriors is an interesting mix, being a junction of some of Japan's most beloved franchises, Musou and One Piece, yet franchises that have had a mixed reception over seas. Which is a shame, since Musou/Warriors is one of the most cathartic videogame franchises out there, and One Piece is one of the best shonen manga ever written, one that remains consistent unlike its peers, Bleach and Naruto, alongside the fantastic JoJo.

 The game has three different modes: Legend, Free and Dream. Legend is a 22-stage long campaign that covers the entirety of One Piece, from the East Blue saga to the Punk Hazard saga, alongside a bonus chapter with an alternate take on the Dresrossa arc. One Piece is a massive story, so suffice to say, what's presented here is fairly compressed, they crammed entire arcs into single stages, almost every secondary character got cut, but it's a more or less decent retelling of the whole story, even if it glosses over details. While some things could've been explained better, like Whitebeard's relationship with his men and Ace, I think even people not versed in One Piece lore will be able to follow the story. This mode features some phenomenal cutscenes that showcase key moments, as well as comic-book styled, low budget cutscenes to bridge in the gap between stages. For Warriors games, the campaign is rather short, clocking about 11 hours, but every stage is unique, so in a way, they trimmed off all the excess fat.  Free is Legend mode, but you can pick any character instead of being limited to the Mugiwaras or temporary allies. Lastly there's Dream Mode, with an unlockable Nightmare mode, that is made up of a series of simple Stages free of any kind of story, just you, your army, and the enemy army.
 If you've ever played a Dynasty Warriors game, you know the deal, mash Square(weak attack) interspersed with Triangle(Strong attack) to produce combos and kill thousands upon thousands of enemies. It's a very simple, very repetitive approach, but I find it immensely entertaining. In this game in particular I found myself racking up thousands of kills one every stage, so it might have some of the most densely populated stages in Warriors history. As for this game particulars, it follows Dynasty Warriors Gundam blueprint, having areas that produce enemies indefinitely until you capture them by killing hundreds of enemies while inside said area. There's also a 'Kizuna Rush', by killing enemies without getting hit you'll fill a gauge, once you increase its level it can decrease even if you get hit. The higher the level, the more damage your allies will do when you perform Kizuna attacks, which consist of simply tapping Square or Triangle after you finish your attack string, and it will summon your ally to perform an attack of their own. Filling the gauge's level to its maximum will allow you to enter Kizuna Drive, your attacks will get stronger, and in the case of some characters, they'll change modes(Like Luffy's gear second or Sanji's Diable Jambe), and Kizuna attacks will get even stronger. This mode only lasts for a while, and depending on when you cancel it, if you let it deplete or if you end it with a super attack, is how many levels you'll be set back on the gauge.

 One thing to keep in mind, mostly in Legend Mode, is that the AI needs help constantly. Whenever a 'X is attempting to flee', you must stop everything you are doing and rush to their aid immediately, sans you want to redo the entire, long stage again. It can get annoying having to stop pounding bosses or what have you and having to run across the entire stage just to heal them, no other Warriors game has had such needy allies, and the penalty for losing allies wasn't this steep, unless they were the mission's VIP.
 One thing I didn't particularly like was the upgrading system. Personally defeating enemy generals will reward you with their own unique coins, and this coins are used to increase each character's individual stats. If you only main a few characters, you'll get enough coins to upgrade them without having to go out of your way to grind for them, but if you plan on maxing every character, well, I hope you've a lot of time on your hands. But the real kicker are the Gold, or rare coins, which must be earned by doing specific tasks, usually attached to special missions in Legend Mode. You will have to go out of your way for these, and they are required if you plan on 'Limit Breaking' your character, allowing him or her to go beyond level 50.

 Another thing I didn't really like was how long it took to fully develop a character, it takes a while for a character to earn its full moveset, at around level 30 you'll get most of a character moves, but you'll get your final attacks at level 63, so 'Limit Breaking' is a requirement, which means you'll have to hunt for the gold coins. Mind you, the game isn't impossible if you don't grind for the coins, even Nightmare Mode can be finished with a level 50 character if you're careful, but I felt like they could've done a better job with the leveling and upgrading system.
 Worth mentioning, the game looks fantastic. The cell-shaded, colorful graphics add a ton of life to it. As a matter if fact, I'd call this one of the better looking Warriors games.

 I had a blast with Pirate Warriors 3, it's probably one of the better Warriors games out there. One Piece's zany cast of characters, with their ridiculous attacks and powers lend themselves to a Musou game perfectly. There's a lot to like here, whether you are Warriors fan, a One Piece fan or both. For future installments, I'd like to see a more streamlined upgrading system, if anything, at least have the moveset expand at lower levels, because it's the different attack strings and what you can do with them that make the franchise so good.
 8.5 out of 10

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