Review by MephianseMK2
"Samurai Western can really deliver, depending on what you're looking for."
Another (sort-of) installment in the Way of the Samurai series, Samurai Western takes place in an unnamed town in an Old West, cowboys-and-Indians setting. You play as Gojiro Kiryu, who has come to America to kill his brother Raddo, who abandoned the samurai lifestyle. What follows is a fast-paced hack-and-slash game through the nameless town.
You'll be seeing a whole lot of the same character models and locations (many of the game's stages take place in the same location during different times of the day). That's really my only graphical complaint, though. Your character's motions are smooth and precise, and even though you see the same location multiple times, each one is well done and helps to pull together the Old West feel. However, even with the pluses to the graphics, the recycled characters and places make the game feel monotonous at times.
The music is a nice blend of Japanese and Western music, which was a real treat to listen to. Like many video games, Samurai Western suffers from some sub-par voice acting, but a few things about it really shine. For one, the voice actor for Gojiro (Masato Amada) is obviously Japanese, and when he speaks English, he does so with an accent, which I felt was a great workaround for the dubbing team to help the game's authenticity. Also, Samurai Western features a great deal of the Metal Gear Solid 2 voice cast, such as Paul Eiding (MGS2 as Colonel Roy Campbell, Samurai Western as Goldberg), Phil LaMarr (MGS2 as Vamp, Samurai Western as Sheriff Donald), and Jennifer Hale (MGS2 as Emma, Samurai Western as Anne Barret). I think they're all wonderful voice actors, and they played their parts quite well. A few downsides to the sound are you'll hear a lot of the same voice samples over and over, so much that you might get a little sick of hearing your foes say, "Who are you?" as they fall.
The storyline is fairly unremarkable. The introduction to the game in the manual pretty much spells things out. There are, of course, a few twists and turns here and there, but it's nothing to write home about. I'm willing to be a tiny bit forgiving since this kind of game doesn't need as much focus on the story as, say, an RPG, but it could be better, regardless.
Now this is the area that a hack-and-slash kind of game should really focus on, and Samurai Western gives you a mixed bag. On the plus side, Gojiro is a really over-the-top swordsman who is able to dodge bullets, slash his enemies in two, deflect bullets with his sword, perform lightning-fast combos, and perform all sorts of unbelievable stunts, which are very visually appealing and make for some great fun. On the negative side, the game doesn't have much beyond "kill everything", which can be trying at times. You have to wrestle with the camera in some spots and it's not as intuitive as the rest of the game, but with some practice, you can manipulate it with little difficulty. Gojiro can be customized with a decent array of weapons and accessories, which helps to add some depth to the gameplay, but I felt they should have cleaned up the core concepts of the game before adding new ones. As such, the accessories option feels a little tacked-on. The game seems to automatically make Gojiro target the nearest foe even when you aren't locked on, which can be a lifesaver when faced with a horde of baddies. Combine Gojiro's impressive stunts with the one-dimensional gameplay and irksome camera, and you have a title that can either shine or flop, depending on what kind of game you're looking for.
The game offers higher levels of difficulty once you complete it the first time if you're in for a challenge. Also, the only way to get your hands on some of Gojiro's weapons and accessories is to either complete stages with certain prerequisites (such as not being able to fall down, otherwise the stage results in failure) or to achieve a certain level, which leaves plenty of stuff to do for people who want to get everything. However, like most games that don't offer much outside of wholesale slaughter, you may not be hooked enough by the game to want to get all the little tidbits.
In some aspects, Samurai Western is an awesome game. Seeing Gojiro deftly dodge a bullet, quickly roll toward his foe, and slash the offending cowboy with a well-aimed killing blow just never gets old for me, since the design team did such a good job on the combat. However, that's the best the game has to offer, and if that's what you're looking for, then so much the better. However, if you're looking for an action title with more depth than "massacre the cowboys to level up and get better swords/accessories", then you might want to avoid Samurai Western. I'd suggest a rent first, since you can experience a lot of the game without buying it. However, if you dig Gojiro's superhuman speed and sword prowess, buying the game wouldn't be a bad investment.
-Great, easy-to-learn action gameplay for beginners and pros alike.
-Optional addition rules to stages helps to add extra challenge.
-"Samurai-meets-cowboy" theme done with few blunders.
-Selection of weapons helps you find a style of gameplay that best suits you.
-Voice acting does a top-notch job.
-One-dimensional gameplay can make some gamers quickly lose interest.
-Camera can be difficult to control.
-Reused character models and locales can make the game feel plodding and tedious.
-Voice samples from enemies don't offer a lot of variety, and can become irritating.
Thanks for reading, and I hope I this review was helpful to you!
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 06/11/07
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