Review by danwheeler

"A stunningly beautiful adventure you control with ... huh? the D-pad!?!"

Onimusha 2 does not stray far from it’s Resident Evil in feudal Japan roots. While it can get repetitive by the end, new additions and beautiful graphics make it worthwhile purchase for most adventure and action game fans.

From the moment you first witness Onimusha 2 in motion you will be dumbfounded by the quality of the visuals. And that feeling never leaves you during gameplay. This is number one of this game’s wicked one-two punch: it’s beautiful. All around you, you’re aware of trickling water, hissing steam, swaying grass and perhaps a small smoldering fire; all of it photorealistic. The rain effects alone are enough to justify a fifty dollar investment. The character models are also beyond compare. Their movement at times looks a bit ''mo-cappy'' but this is a negligible gripe.

A more serious issue is the inclusion of radial style controls. If you’ve played Resident Evil or Silent Hill, you know what I’m talking about. It nearly made a very exciting game feel old, slow and stale. It’s 2002, Capcom, playing an entire PS2 game with the D-pad is just embarrassing. Ever play a game called Metal Gear Solid 2? They’ll show you how to do it right.

The remainder of my criticisms of the game touch on the targeting and weapon charging systems. The targeting system at times seems to target whichever enemy is closest and other times gets stuck on a single enemy until you defeat him. And that means even if he’s now halfway across the room and his buddies are slicing up your backside something pretty, you’re still lunging at him who is conveniently out of reach and ignoring closer threats. Plus pressing down the weapon charging button doesn’t always seem to charge your weapon. Sometime you just stand there. Both of these are minor points and detracted little from my enjoyment of the game.

The gift system is an innovative and addictive addition to this installment of Onimusha. You collect, buy and discover items ranging from super-rare to uber-ordinary that serve no other purpose but to serve as gifts to the story’s four supporting characters. Choose wisely what you give to who and they’ll assist you in certain harder battles. You’ll even be able to take control and complete missions as them. The problem with the gift system is that it completely disappears halfway through the game. You stop having opportunities to interact with the full supporting cast. This was disappointing and made the second half of the game seem one dimensional in comparison to the richer first half.

Once you finish the game (it should only take you maybe 10 or 15 hours) you will come face to face with number two of the aforementioned one-two punch: replay value. Great Caesar’s Ghost! There’s so much to do after you play the game through once. First and foremost you can play it through again thanks to the gift system influenced branching storyline, unlockable difficulty settings and handy scenario route viewer to see what you missed. You can also browse through DVD-like extras such as trailers, galleries and making of footage. There are even, appropriately enough, mini-games to master as well.

Add tasty graphics to tons of replay value and unlockable extras and you get one sweet package. Newbies to the series be forewarned: some find the battle repetitive. Not me, I loved charging through gangs of lizard men and undead ninjas laying the smackdown with my choice of four (or is it five?) different weapons. I did have beef with the outdated control scheme which brought the total score down to a still respectable seven out of ten.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 10/21/02, Updated 10/21/02

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