|System: PS Vita, PS3*|
|Dev: Tecmo Koei|
|Pub: Namco Bandai|
|Release: September 3, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Violence, Blood, Suggestive Themes, Alcohol Reference, Mild Language, Crude Humor, Use of Tobacco|
Various RPG-style systems extend the play value of Pirate Warriors 2. Opening red treasure chests during the level nets the player treasure, which can be used to level up characters or purchase music and images for the game's gallery, or collectible coins, which are used for character customization. Coins play double duty in that regard. They can be grouped together in a character's pockets in order to enhance strength, defense, and life. They are also used to fill out various Bingo cards that the player earns along the way, giving the characters special passive skills every time they get a Bingo. Secret coins, which are earned by meeting mysterious objectives on every level, are particularly powerful.
Where Pirate Warriors 2 cuts some corners is in the aesthetic department. Nobody is going to mistake the plastic-looking character models for their anime counterparts, and the environmental textures are often muddy and generic looking. There are, at least, a variety of environments on which to battle, though the battlefield setup is always a series of corridors and rooms, even outdoors. The best part of the graphic design is the special-effects work, which has created fantastically flashy combination attacks for every character. The worst part of the graphic design is the needless sexualization of the female characters. Swimming gear is certainly appropriate for the setting, but the breast-only jiggle physics and the fact that the camera pans over the scantily clad women in a way that it doesn't pan over the Speedo-wearing Frankie just caused me to roll my eyes and sigh.
Whether due to financial constraints or licensing issues, publisher Namco Bandai didn't spring for an English voice cast. All the spoken dialogue is in Japanese and subtitled, which doesn't bother me but will probably annoy some players, especially those who know and love Funimation's One Piece English voice cast. The music and sound effects are as one would expect for a game of this type, not spectacular, but they do their job of punctuating the action. I'm always amused by animated shows in which the characters yell out the names of their attacks, but fortunately, the game doesn't overdo that tendency, saving most call-outs for the occasional special attacks.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 was created with an unusual attention to gameplay quality for a licensed game. It may not be a masterpiece, but it's simple fun that is especially good for short play sessions with a friend. Collecting coins, playing with different characters, and seeking out secrets in the various levels gives it some extra depth and a good deal of replay value. Overall, Tecmo Koei has done a great job of removing tedium from the game's systems and keeping the action at the forefront of the game. If you're looking for a game that isn't too challenging and is fun to play with a friend, this is a good choice, even if you're not a huge Once Piece fan. If you are a fan and don't mind that this isn't a canon story, it's a great way to step into the shoes of your favorite characters.
Date: September 6, 2013