|System: X360, PC, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Omega Force||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Koei||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The Better It Gets
by Cole Smith
Warriors Orochi is certainly as good a hack-and-slash game as you can expect to find on a handheld. The game was originally available for the PS2 and the X360 last year, and although it didn't exactly set the world on fire, it secured its position alongside such luminaries as the Samurai and Dynasty Warrior series.
Sure we all know how redundant the hack-and-slash genre of games can be, and that's why we don't expect a hell of a lot out of it. Following a simple formula of mowing down scores of enemies with various lethal weapons and special attacks are its prime directives - and thou shalt not stray far from the path. The weapons represent the time period, consisting of various swords, axes, maces, and spears. Considering that the PSP has a much smaller screen than what you would use to view your console, the enemy hordes have been scaled back to fit the screen. It would be virtually impossible to keep a visual on your character otherwise. Less onscreen enemies actually makes the game seem more realistic not necessarily more challenging, since they drop like flies with a simple swipe of your weapons.
In an interesting concept that includes characters from both Samurai and Dynasty Warriors, both parties are compelled to fight against each other and eventually unite against a common threat. That threat is the magical demon Orochi. Using his dark powers, he has combined all feudal kingdoms of China and Japan into warring factions, turning this into the mother of all wars. And that's about it for the storyline. Don't expect any plot twists or character development. Once the premise is set, it's all about fighting. Unlike the other Warrior series, Warriors Orochi is not entirely concerned with even feigning historical accuracy or realism. This game is pure fantasy and makes no bones about it. Not that Samurai or Dynasty are any more believable.
You begin with a small clan and eventually amass an army. Throughout the game you are fighting enemies for the ultimate cause of freeing captured warriors and defeating Orochi and his army of Hell spawns. You will make friends that accompany you in battle. While there are different class systems and different attributes associated with various warriors such as power, tech, or speed, they all play so similarly that it's difficult to tell them apart. There are three basic methods of attack including Normal, Charge, and Musou. The Musou is a screen-clearing attack, and the most powerful. The drawback is that it takes a while to charge, which will leave you temporarily vulnerable. Most of your hacking and slashing entertainment will be facilitated by a manic mashing of the action button. Combos will be created automatically, but using the Charge attack at the end of them will increase your devastation.
Three characters can be taken into battle and switched at any time. As I mentioned, the characters are very similar so there's no real advantage to using different ones in terms of different attributes, but you can take advantage of the Musou attacks by combing them for extra power attacks or allowing time to charge while another character takes on the hordes. There are 77 different warriors available, from which you can make almost unlimited combinations of three. Koei only hints at the depth that could have been exploited if each character did have measurably different attributes. The gameplay depth of just combining characters alone would be insane, not to mention the replay value. Unfortunately the only real differences are visual.