[i]Dynasty Warriors 3[/i] turned me on to a new style of game many years ago, the hack and slash. Never before had I experienced epic battles played from the view of a staunch ancient general leading his army through the battlefield. It was love at first sight and the affirmation that the “Warriors” series was becoming a truly successful franchise. Koei and Omega Force have teamed up yet again to bring us [i]Samurai Warriors 2[/i]. While the Koei Omega Force duo have strayed from the formula that made these games so successful in at least one recent release, Dynasty Warriors 5 Empires for the 360 being a great example, they return home for this one and make some great improvements that definitely ensure this game is a winner.
While [i]Samurai Warriors 2[/i] is similar in gameplay to its previous incarnations, make no mistake about it this game has a ton of new features that make it by far the best game of the franchise. [i]SW2[/i] has 26 playable characters and features 10 all new warriors. Many of the characters available to use are from the original SW with a few making the return from SW XL. Like all Warriors titles, only a few characters are available from the gate with the others being unlocked after completing Story Mode for the other characters.
One of my favorite new features in [i]SW2[/i] is the all new Skill system. This new Skill system replaces the point-based system from the original game. Skills are awarded for leveling up, learned from an enemy officer, or available for purchase from the in-game Shop. These skills are divided in 4 categories: Ability, Growth, Battle, and Special and play a key role in your continued dominance in the game. Other things you can purchase at the Shop include new guards, mounts, and weapon upgrades.
A few additional features making the cut are the Triple Musou Gauge, Linked Charge Attacks, and seamless Castle Warfare. The Triple Musou Gauge is by far the best feature and allows you grow your Musou gauge long enough to hold 3 full musou attacks. Unleashing this attack is a surefire way to increase your KO count. The Linked Charge Attacks are performed by using different combinations of the Normal and Charge attacks. These moves can be viewed from your characters Move List. Leveling up often times adds a new move and button combination so be sure to watch out for those. The Castle Warfare first introduced in Samurai Warriors is back, but is integrated seamlessly into Field Battles.
[i]SW2[/i] is packed with 5 game modes including the standard Story and Free modes. The Survival mode pits you fighting your way through an endless castle to see how many floors you can capture. Gold and experience earned in Survival carry over to your characters permanent stats. The PS2 version of the game is missing the 2 player online Vs. mode that the 360 version of the game implements over Live.
[i]SW2[/i] also sports a new party game called “Sugoroku”. Sugoroku is a 4 player game that has players traveling around a map of Japan divided into tiles. The goal is to reach the specified amount of gold. This is achieved by buying tiles you land on and collecting your flags and returning to your home square. Think Monopoly. Land on an opponents square and pay the fee, or pay the full value and challenge them for ownership of the tile. Owning multiple tiles in a row creates a link that increases the value of all the linked tiles. Upon starting the game you can specify if you’d like a large or small map and what the target amount of gold will be. A short game on the small map will take 30+ minutes so be warned that this is not a 2 minute micro mini game.
Now that you know how much time Omega Force spent beefing this game up, is it any good? In 2 words, hell yeah. While the PS2 doesn’t have the raw graphical power or HD that the 360 is capable, the visuals are still very refined. I didn’t have a hard time dropping back down to non-HD even after enjoying the 360 version of this game. The soundtrack is stellar and creates a nice aura about the game with new music from popular fusion artist Minoru Mukaiya. The controls are tight and responsive and your character does just what you expect.
The gameplay in Samurai Warriors 2 is as good as I’ve seen it in a hack and slash style and I have yet to run across a single issue that takes this game down a notch. Did Omega Force achieve perfection? Maybe not, but this game is as good as it gets for now. Samurai Warriors 2 gets a huge thumbs up from me and is a must own for fans of the Warriors series. Koei was also gracious and took the liberty of not gouging you by only pricing this title at $39.99, great move guys.