Review by Joinho
Fast action, lots of replay and no bad aging!
I haven't came up with any better way to describe this game than to define it with the word action. Fast, with lots of style, great graphics and precise controls, this is actually one of my favorite early Ps2 releases. Something I can really replay many, many times and never get tired.
At first glance, youll notice a lot of similarities with it's more famous brother, the modern zombie-hunting Resident Evil, but after some time, you'll realize that these two games have nothing to do with each other. Even though you have to collect some items and solve some puzzles here and there, your main role is to slash and kill all the demons you can find. There isn't many hidden stuff or mysteries to solve, just wipe out the enemies as fast as you can without getting hurt in order to get a better grade by the end of the game, as simple as that.
First time I played this game was in the actual year of its release. I remember being completely blown away by the graphics. The character models were something If havent ever seen before, such details including the Japanese eyes and the synchronized mouth-voice were really unmatched by that time. Also, you rarely see pre-rendered backgrounds look so good. But the most impressive feature about the graphics are definitely the cut-scenes, the very first one being the best. The sounds, voice acting and specially the music scores aren't also anything less than brilliant. All that coupled with good production values make the first Ps2 Onimusha dont look dated at all even these days.
The feudal Japanese setting is alone enough to make any game look cool. And you have at least a very original idea when your hero is a samurai with a gauntlet that is able to collect the souls of the enemies you defeat. By the way, your enemies are demons, ranging from sword-wielding skeletons to giant red ants. The plot however is not necessarily original, you have to save a princess kidnapped by bad guys, but what action game have great stories? Overall, this presentation is simply awesome, and sure influenced a lot of action games that succeeded, some of which failed badly. For one, the first Devil May Cry not only had much worse setting and hero but also somehow looks more dated in these days.
The controls are a much more debatable subject. Again, much like in Resident Evil, you use the directional pad to move, spin, move and spin. I have to admit, in my recent replays I felt a bit awkward about the directional since theres not such type of controls anymore. But after a while, I got used to it once again and I was able to fight the bosses with not much difficulty. Actually, today I think that this is one of the best controls for a 3D action game because it rewards good reflexes and provides a wide range os actions. However the sad news is that its not an easy task to master these controls and it could take a while for one to get used to it.
All in all, the game play is very good. As you collect the souls of the monsters, you can upgrade the level of your three elemental swords and their respective magic. Theres also three armors and even a secret final weapon which you obtain after doing a side-quest. From time to time you also gain control of another character, a female ninja, which is nice.
The controls may be a pain sometimes, but the normal level does not present a high level of challenge. The main quest can be completed in about eight hours, but if you are playing for the second time you can finish the game in less that five hours. On the other hand, you have much replay value since theres many features to be unlocked. Alternative costumes, mini-games and most important, a more challenging mode. And im not exaggerating when I say that is simply not possible to finish this game just one.
All things considered, a great action game with crazy style, high entertainment level and lots of replay value. Many games that succeeded such as God of War were clearly influenced by it. Like I stated before, many of the early Ps2 games such as Jak and Daxter and Devil May Cry that are considered classics dont aged very well for me and dont have half the appeal this one has. Fast and fun, a game that is exactly what it meant to be.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Onimusha: Warlords (US, 03/13/01)
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