There have been a ton of Warriors games, and if you’ve played one then you have a great idea of what to expect here. Tons of characters, a short campaign, and local coop that is just as tired as the single-player are the name of the game here. If you’re in love with the various Warriors games then Samurai Warriors 3 won’t disappoint you, but if the last time you played Warriors was Dynasty Warriors 4 on the PS2 and you thought “this is all right, but I don’t need 12 more” then you should steer clear of Samurai Warriors 3.
Samurai Warriors 3 features two narrative modes. It doesn’t matter which one you pick as they play exactly the same and your experience carries across all game modes. Regardless of what you choose you’ll be mashing on two buttons to kill low-res nameless goons and occasionally square off against a named officer. What Samurai Warriors 3 does right, however, is character customization and leveling. As you play you will find weapons on the battlefield. Before each new mission you will be allowed to select the weapon you take into battle and upgrade your equipment at the blacksmith. If the combat weren’t so derivative these upgrades and choices would matter, but Koei is taking steps in the right direction.
Samurai Warriors 3’s missteps are many. First and foremost is the lackluster combat. If you’re going to develop an action title with tons of enemies then the combat needs to be entertaining. Story can continue to be nonsensical, but I’ve got to be having fun battling throngs of enemies. Dead Rising 2 pulled this off exceptionally well. I don’t rightly care why I’m running around not-Vegas killing zombies – I care that it is tremendously fun to do so with two chainsaw duct taped to a kayak paddle. Samurai Warriors never really delivers on the fun that it so desperately needs.
Samurai Warriors 3 features multiple control schemes (something I wish more Wii games did – especially those that do not make use of motion controls). You can slaughter the masses with the Wii remote and nunchuck, the Classic Controller, or the GameCube pad. All options are on equal footing as all you need is an analog stick and two attack buttons, but it is nice to have the choice of picking up my old Wavebird. Samurai Warriors also supports online play. For those folks out there that want to team up with a friend and take over Japan during the Warring States period this seems like a great addition. Unfortunately the Wii Speak peripheral is not supported so your ally had may as well be controlled by the game’s AI. In a game like Mario Kart I don’t mind multiplayer silence, but in cooperative play it makes sense to talk throughout the game, and it baffles me that Nintendo’s official online-enabled chat device is not supported here.
Samurai Warriors 3 is a current-gen game in visuals only. Player character models are nice, environments are detailed, and flashy combat effects are great. Sadly, the remainder of the package is stuck in the PS2 era. Sound effects are tinny, combat is shallow, and the online offering is barebones enough that the whole package would feel more complete without it. If you’re already a fan of the Warriors franchise then Samurai Warriors won’t disappoint. Everybody else, though, has already played this game and likely has neither the need nor the desire to go back to it.
Pros: Multiple control schemes, light RPG leveling and weapon upgrading
Cons: lackluster online, shallow combat, carbon copy of previous games in the series