Review by Randomer

"A great game from a great franchise comes to PC. But not without its flaws."

Intro:
For fans this is a dream come true! A Dynasty Warriors (DW) and Samurai Warriors (SW) crossover. For those that aren't familiar with this game, welcome to one of the best hack and slash games out there, for fans, I promise that this is not just another cash cow. KOEI should be congratulated on re-using present materials to make a fun new experience that everyone wants!

To say that Warriors Orochi is a brand new game would be a lie, but equally it is a lie to say that it is a cut and shove expansion pack. Whilst old characters and levels are used they are all adjusted and there are hundreds of new dialogues and soundtracks included in the game. The levels have been reinvented slightly and warped to give them a mystical feel when necessary. Welcome to Warriors Orochi!

Gameplay:
Firstly an introduction for new players. This is a hack and slash game, meaning you have to run across battlefields and kill people. If you know you will enjoy this then this is a game for you, the criticism from this game stems from its simplicity. However not only do you just run across the battlefield, you have to make tactical decision, decide who to help, who to kill, where to defend and where to attack. The battlefield is a dynamic place and each battle plays out differently, you can't just look at who to kill, but rather how and when to do so.

The new features of this game are a few cool things. Firstly there is a tag team system, meaning you switch between three different characters at will. This is a benefit because now you are no longer stuck playing as just one person, but not so good because you have 3 characters to manage stats, HP and weapons for. If you can cope with looking after 3 people and don't mind the lack of realism it provides then its great.

Weapon fusion is the next main change, you can now swap and add attributes between different weapons, effectively merging lesser weapons with a greater weapon to eventually make a super weapon for each character by the end of the game. This makes weapon selection less of a game of odds and more a game of time, getting the best bits together to add.

A more detailed look at the game will reveal several further changes to the Gameplay. The game leans more towards SW gameplay than DW, the base capture system has gone and so has the level system, instead we have SW style maps, icons and menus. This is probably because SW is the most recent version of the game to be available for porting. Further changes include the EXP system. Not only do you gain it in battle but at the end you points are added up and converted into EXP points to spend on any general in any army you want, meaning that when you unlock a person halfway through a campaign you can level them up immediately, rather than having to play lots of easy levels with them instead. These EXP points are also spent on weapon fusions. One final addition is a R1 attack that does some special attack unique to each character. It annoyingly replaces the special abilities found in SW such as troop buffing, horse summoning and reinforcement summoning, features I greatly enjoyed.

As a criticism there are only two play modes, story and free mode, no VS, challenge or ‘create a warrior' as we have seen in previous titles from the Warriors franchise. Finally, with regards to gameplay, the PC is at a disadvantage. The keyboard controls are awkward making game pad use a necessity, if you have two game pads you can also play 2-player co-op, or one on a pad and the other on the keyboard.

Graphics:
The graphics for this game are excellent and the system requirements are very reasonable. This game can run nicely on older systems with weak specs as well as top of the range systems. If you have a top of the range system you will be getting high resolution and gorgeous action on a par with the Xbox 360 version of this game. An added bonus is that the RRP of this game is half that of the 360 version. The game has a good deal of customizable options and supports resolutions up to 1600x1200. No widescreen however. If you have a low end PC your graphics will be like that of the PS2 version, slightly muddy, less well defined.

Compared to the new Dynasty Warriors 6, the graphics for this game are not very good and there are some minor glitches present. This game being a port, patches are unlikely. There is some tearing and disappearing of textures and cut scenes suffer from an unexplainable lag, even if the battles run smoothly. If you do not mind these glitches however, then the game shall look great. One further advantage the PC has is the special effects, combos and special attacks produce cool flashing lights better than any game so far (with the possible exception of the recent DW 6).

Sound:
A high point for this game. The previous PC games in this series often appeared to have poor sound quality, this game is much better in my opinion. The soundtrack is various from sad piano tunes to the epic guitar riffs found in older DW games. The soundtrack varies on the level and situation, however it does seem that there are fewer songs than in older games, or perhaps they just sound the same.

The game has got a whole new set of vocal work done. There tonnes of in battle conversations, some are trivial and humours, some are serious and interesting. The ‘what if' scenarios of this crossover really do play out in battle to both serious and comical results. In truth the seriousness of this game has to be taken with a fistful of salt, especially when it comes to the characters and what they say. Often the battlefield has this flowing of talk with characters sometimes repeating phrases in ways that make for little unexpected conversations. One character says “I might not last long.” Another says “fight bravely my brother.”

The SFX is varied and useful, but not particularly impressive. Frankly if you enjoy this game as much as I do, you will hardly notice. I will also point out for those that are interested, this game has no subtitles or Japanese voices.

Story:
The actual ‘story' of this game is neither realistic nor strong, but the way the characters react to it and act amongst themselves is what makes this story work. A gigantic Snake Demon called Orochi has descended form heaven and morphed 15th century Japan and 2nd century China together. The initial battles between the kingdoms and Orochi take place before the game starts and players are left to pick up the pieces. There are 4 campaigns, each of the three kingdoms from DW has a campaign and then there is a combined SW campaign. Each army features an ensemble from all of the different factions but for ease of use they are sorted under each of these different groups.

Each of the kingdoms has different goals to achieve in their battle, some want to rebel, others are forced to submit. Each of the levels is used differently and with some innovation. The way the characters work alongside new friends and old enemies is good. The way they are forced to fight their own friends is also a great plot device. Once you get by the initial absurdity of the story, the plot of this game becomes great.

Lifespan:
There are a lot of levels; each kingdom has about 8 main battles and 8 optional battles, most of which take place on different battlefields. Whilst you have seen them all before, never have they been combined. For a player like me who is not interested in unlocks or secrets, there is a good 10-20 hours of play time here. For those who like unlocks, secret weapons and all that, the playtime goes up towards 100 hours, especially if you just enjoy killing things. However if you find the idea of this very repetitive, the avoid this game. For some people it is simply not stimulating enough.

Buy or rent:
If you have a console to hand then rent it just to see if you like it. If you don't and are still unsure there is a Japanese demo out there on the internet for you to try. Finally for those who are not sure if it will run on their computer then benchmarking software has also been released online for this game. Download it if you are unsure. If you are a DW or SW fan then there is no reason for you not to buy this, it's a great crossover.

Overall:
I give this game 7/10. This may seem low considering my overall admiring view of the game. I am giving it a low score because I feel the game is not as good as it could be. Whilst it is mainly for the fans of the series I feel it does little to fully express the potential of a crossover. Don't get me wrong, this is a great game for fans, but for newcomers it is merely an average experience, the little things that make this game brilliant will be lost on them to some extent. If you are however a fan, don't hesitate to buy this game!


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/04/08

Game Release: Warriors Orochi (EU, 03/28/08)


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