Warriors Orochi 3 Review
Game: Warriors Orochi 3
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Available on: PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (Reviewed on PlayStation 3)
It would be all too easy to criticise Tecmo Koei for persevering with the various incarnations of the Dynasty Warriors series. Sure, there are lots of them, and in all honesty they don’t deviate from the original 1997 template a fair amount, but the hack and slash gameplay sells like gangbusters in Japan, and there are loads of dedicated fans all around the world who lap this sort of thing up. These guys are utterly dedicated to providing us with the opportunity to kill as many things as is humanly possible, using as wide a selection of historical characters as you will ever see.
And you know what? Their games are fun. Which is why I was looking forward to the latest Warriors Orochi sequel, which brings in characters not only from the Dynasty and Samurai Warriors games, but from other Tecmo Koei games as well. What this means is that you get to enter into a historical throwdown using the likes of Ryu Hayabusa or Ayane, or even Joan of Arc, who has been sucked into some sort of freaky time vortex and thrown into the mix. Needless to say it is another corker from Omega Force, which doesn’t exactly innovate, but makes up for that with bombast and good old mindless mass murder.
STORY: “Orochi” is a name that has been bandied about with a lot of Japanese videogames over the years. The King of Fighters had a whole Orochi Saga, while Amaterasu used the Celestial Brush to fight Orochi in Capcom’s sublime Okami. In Japanese mythology Orochi is a legendary demonic serpent, similar to the Greek Hydra. In the Warriors Orochi series, Orochi is responsible for merging the Chinese and Japanese eras that form the settings for the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series, thus creating this whole crossover in the first place. Like with the previous Warriors Orochi titles,the giant hydra creature is all set to destroy the world as we know it, and it is the job of the heroic warriors to prevent this from happening by slaying his multi-headed ass.
In this case, the mystical Kaguya, a new character for the series, sends back a bunch of warriors to the time before Orochi has ripped his way through space and time to threaten his brand of armageddon. It is their task to take on and defeat Orochi and his legion of demonic supernatural badasses; which is where you come in.
GRAPHICS: You can never knock the awesome cinematics in any of Omega Force’s recent titles, and as per usual they have come correct with some stonking cutscenes, amazing special attack animations and beautiful looking environments. This time around the actual in-game visuals are tremendous too, with very smooth action even when the screen is chock-full of characters, and absolutely no popping textures, not as far as I could see anyway. Sure, sometimes there are some dodgy draw distances, enemies may loom out of nowhere, and occasionally the camera goes all to cock, but given how much is going on, you can’t really grumble. With support for 3D televisions included, this is hands-down the best looking Warriors title yet seen.
SOUND: Original Japanese voice acting is included here, and it sounds great, adding to the already excellent atmosphere and really drawing you into the ancient carve-ups therein. Sometimes you will need to pay attention to the orders being barked out during gameplay so, luckily, the Japanese language is complemented by handy subtitles. There is a curious soundtrack to your slaughter-fest, veering between piano-led compositions and wailing electric guitars, as well as plenty of satisfying sword clinking and exploding audio to enjoy.
GAMEPLAY: Cutting down hordes of undead nasties is very much the order of the day, and you can choose from a staggering 120+ characters (some of which are unlockable) to do this. You select three heroes, who can be switched in real time during battle. Most of the time you will just be set the task of killing everything on a particular stage, however sometimes you are given a specific task, such as killing a particular individual on the battlefield.
Switching between different characters is useful in a number of ways. First of all it gives you a much needed bit of variety, some of the battles are epic and can last anything from thirty minutes to an hour, so it is nice to be able to mix it up with some different styles. As well as this, you can use your trio of fighters to chain together combos, or even perform devastating “Triple Musou” team attacks, these techniques will be familiar to fight fans like myself who are used to implementing them in Street Fighter or Marvel Vs. games.
Getting the balance right is crucial. There are four different classes of character to consider, Power, Speed, Technique and the new addition, Wonder. There are so many characters to experiment with, it is almost too much, and at times it is best to just pick the most powerful dudes possible, as some of the more arty, magical faces in the cast are simply too weak when compared to the more heavy-hitting bad boys.
LONGEVITY: There is loads of stuff to do in addition to the multi-branching story mode, which allows you to enter the town hub areas and customise your team, socialise with other characters, form bonds between the soldiers in your army in order for them to learn even more mind-blowing team based combo attacks, and customise weapons. There are a huge number of side quests that allow you to unlock new characters. An edit mode allowing you to tinker with battlefields you have already conquered, placing enemies in different spots, and even changing the dialogue within each stage. It is pretty basic, but a fun addition, and you can share your creations with others online who can review your work. There is even an option to battle fellow Orochi fans online or play in online co-op however, the matchmaking, with its confusing menus and stupid system of showing your availability and waiting for someone to invite you to a game, means that this is a poorly implemented inclusion. Perhaps this side of the game would be more suited to the other side of the world, where the game does have considerably more fans populating the servers.
VERDICT: As the first Warriors Orochi title for this generation, this is a great début and another immensely fun instalment in Omega Force’s crazy series. With some more thought to the online gameplay, it could have been even more awesome yet, even with these issues, the single player mode is a huge challenge with some amazing crossover attack madness and a huge selection of historical characters to play with making it well worth a look.