Review by Hajime
"The game is confused whether it is an RPG or an action title!"
Onimusha 2 was one of the most eagerly awaited PS2 titles in 2002. Onimusha was generally well received, both on PS2 and later on the XBox when it was ported and updated. Capcom, the giant behind hit series such as Resident Evil and Devil May Cry, successfully recreated the demon slaying samurai game experience, with great in game graphics and non-stop sword fighting action. Even though it had problems with camera angles and the control was tough to adapt to (similar to Resident Evil's control scheme), it was a great game and many people waited enthusiastically for the sequel, which promised to be better than the first one in many ways.
I eagerly anticipated the sequel Samurai's Destiny, and I have to say, I was rather disappointed. Don't get me wrong - by no means is this game bad. It is definitely a cut above the rest and better than most PS2 titles of 2002. However, I expected much more. So what is wrong with this game?
Story: (6/10) Nobunaga is back and causing trouble, and Onimusha 2 introduces a new hero Jubei to replace the original Samanasuke. Again Jubei gets the ogre gauntlet which allows him to suck evil souls and gather power, and he is on the quest to defeat Nobunaga and his evil minions. There are a lot more NPCs this time, which makes the storyline much more developed and generally interesting, but unfortunately the NPCs are nowhere as interesting as Jubei and are rather flat. But Capcom has managed to make the overall plot more engrossing the second time round.
Graphics: (8/10) Onimusha 2 looks great. The character models look nice, and the cut scenes show great expertise in computer graphics. The pre-rendered backgrounds are atmospheric and full of detail. The locations are exotic and range from castles to villages in a feudal Japan setting. The animations are fluid and I didn't notice many slowdowns during scenes with many animation sequences occuring concurrently. No complaints in this department - the graphics of this game is as good as you can expect.
Sound & Music: (3/10) Music is average and features several flat tunes which neither inspire nor shock. But they do their job of providing the background ambience. The sound is my main complaint, and the main contributor towards this low score. Remember the great feature in the first Onimusha game where you got to choose to hear the voice acting in original Japanese? Well, forget it - in this game not only is this feature removed, but Capcom has managed to find some of the worst voices for the characters. The voice for Jubei's mother is terrible, and almost made me want to put the game on mute and just read the subtitles. Admittedly, the other voices are not as bad, but are definitely way below acceptable standards. This game is a nightmare to listen to, and hopefully you will grow accustomed to the horrible voice acting faster than I did (which was near the end of the game).
Gameplay: (7/10) I really enjoyed the first third of the game. Onimusha 2 introduces an RPG element which allows you to interact with the NPCs, and even make friends with them which opens up alternate quests. This is a great idea and I loved buying items and exchanging with the NPCs, watching the different responses as I tested with the combinations. However, soon this all ends and we return to the same formula used in the first game, namely hack-and-slash and some occasional puzzles which basically requires go-here-fetch-this-for-that which is mindless and not really challenging. Occasionally you come across puzzle boxes which require more thinking, but those are rather rare and far-in-between. Action wise, the game is fun and you get to use different weapons and different attacking techniques that you learn through the game. Boss battles are challenging and are one of the highlights of the game. However, the action lacks the style of Devil May Cry and is far too similar to the first game for my taste. Adding to this the terrible control which Capcom has decided to use again, and the action elements of the game can only be so fun.
Replay value: (6/10) I finished this game under 4 hours and then realized that I only covered 60% of the overall components. This meant that, in order to unlock all the secrets, I have to complete the game 100%, which includes all subquests and NPC segments. The game does have a fair share of unlockable secrets (and to avoid any spoilers I won't mention any here but you can easily find out about them online) and they are pretty fun and definitely aren't just cheap bonuses to increase the replay value. So depending on whether you are just interested in completing this game once or not, you may want to think about whether to purchase or just rent.
Final word: This game is definitely not bad, it just isn't that much better than the first one, and maybe I expected too much. If only the RPG elements applied to the whole game, I would have given this game a 8+. Unfortunately, the way it ends up, Onimusha 2 seems to be confused and at first thinks that it is an RPG, only to change gears and switch to an action a third of the way through, confusing not only itself, but the gamers too.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 10/13/02, Updated 10/13/02
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