Review by JPeeples

"A game with tons of potential, ruined by controls that are sloppier than a $10 "Escort.""

Onimusha was an Ides of March release for the Sony PlayStation 2 in 2001. The game marked Capcom’s second appearance on the console, their first being Street Fighter EX 3. Onimusha is a survival horror game, much like the Resident Evil games, only it takes place in feudal Japan, and, instead of cops, you have samurais, instead of zombies, you get demonic samurais, and instead of using guns to kill your enemies, you use various swords. The game uses the RE-trademark pre-rendered backgrounds that the polygonal characters in the game battle atop of. This game carries over some of the greatest aspects of the RE series, as well as some of the worst.

I’ll get the positive aspects of the gameplay out of the way first, this shouldn’t take too long. The hack-and-slash swordplay in the game is exciting, and the puzzle-solving is kept to a bare minimum, thank God. The last thing I want to do in an action game is solve puzzles. This gameplay style is simple, and addictive thanks to some nice additions that help to keep it fresh. Speaking of the nice gameplay additions...There are some rally nice touches to the gameplay that help to add some depth to the seemingly simple gameplay style. Namely the ability to level up your sword, and your attacks. I think this idea is great in theory, and it works out pretty well in execution, except for the fact that the controls hinder your ability to actually make use of your leveled up attacks. Speaking of the controls...

The game features one of the worst control schemes I’ve used in a video game. The ill-conceived character controls. You see, in order to adjust the position of your character, you use the left and right d-pad controls, and to move him you use the up and down d-pad controls. The key problem in all of this is that you have to use at least two d-pad commands in order to rotate and move your character so you can attack an enemy, on top of the button combos you’ll need to use in order to kill the enemy once you manage, after a few acts of God, to properly align your character with the enemy. The controls absolutely ruin the game, they turn what should be a fun experience into an agonizing chore.

Graphically, the game is a joy to behold. The rich colors of the pre-rendered backgrounds really bring a sense of realism to the setting of the game, further drawing you into the story. The character design in the game is great considering the setting. Amid the samurais and demonic samurais, there are some nice gigantic demons to help liven up the game. However, these pre-rendered backdrops do cause some gameplay problems. Going from one backdrop to another takes more time than it should, and this can cost you the time needed to attack a foe, it can also disorient you because you never really know which side you’ll be facing when you go to another backdrop. The horrid controls don’t help this situation any. Thankfully, incidents like this are few and far between, but when they do pop up, you’ll be cussing the game out to no end.

The aural aspects of the game are done really well. The music in the game fits the setting perfectly and helps to draw you into the game. While the voices in the game fit their characters perfectly and add another layer of depth to the game.

Onimusha’s replay value is pretty low. The horrid control scheme makes playing through it once enough of a chore, and unless, by some act of God, you’re able to master the controls, you won’t want to drudge through the game again. If you are able to tame the controls, you’ll probably find the game to be a great long-term play, however, if you don’t, expect to only play through the game a single time. The game isn’t all that difficult, except for a couple of the puzzles and a few of the bosses. Most of the enemies in the game have the I.Q. of an eggplant, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble beating them, unless they gang up on you.

Overall, this game is a huge letdown. If it wasn’t for the control scheme, it would be a damn fun game, however, the controls just ruin the experience, and bog down the gameplay. I really want to give this game a high score, I can tell that Capcom put a lot of effort into it, the game has strong, multi-faceted characters, and it has a rich setting that adds to the mood of the game. If the controls in the game were improved, the game would be amazing, however, they’re sub-par, and they slaughter the gameplay as a result.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 02/11/02, Updated 02/11/02


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