9 April 2010 | TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews
A solid attempt at one out of the handful of "games that need to be made"
Come on, think hard; you know what I mean. Since the medium was invented, there are a couple of specific interactive experiences that it has been crying out for. Ah, perhaps it is subjective exactly what they are. But I simply cannot be the sole person who has been jonesing for this kind of thing for years(not hyperbole). Arguably not quite gun-kata(a martial arts style that combines it with firing; what you see in a Kurt Wimmer film, you know, Equilibrium and the less popular Ultraviolet that was butchered by the studio... come on, the action of it was amazing), this definitely offers an incredibly smooth transition between the two. And no, I have not yet played either Red Steel title; I will. And this is the only Samurai Warriors I've tried. This essentially creates an entirely new type of VG: A rail-shooter with mêlée combat. No, you read that right. Yes, it's first person, if it does break this perspective here and there. Perhaps not the obvious choice for the initial impression of this, though if you think about it, it makes better sense than 3rd. You can swipe side to side with the Wii-Mote, or from up to down or vice versa, and it actually reproduces your movements(if at a set speed; I'm not complaining) with the Sword. If you don't want to use that in the long run, you get to use a Spear(stab by jabbing it forward... very strong, and helps you spot weak points), a Hammer(pound the ground, sturdy if slow) and Blades. No, that last one's not knives; it's not easy to explain. Imagine a deadly yo-yo, and perhaps the school-girl in Kill Bill Vol.1; yes, using it(swinging it around in front of you, and it is *not* somethin' you wanna be on the business end of) takes getting used to, and *YES*, it is worth the effort. Oh, did I mention it can reflect arrows? Directly back at those that sent them. Cue the Elvis song. All four have attacks that have you moving the controller through the air, as well as their own power-up one, in which fast movement increases its effect. As far as long-range goes, you get a Bow(hold down the trigger to tighten it, and squeeze it off-screen to "reload"), a rifle(oh yeah! I don't know if Samurai carried such, however, this really isn't historical, and it doesn't claim to be; and I don't mind) that you get to snipe with(aw, and I didn't get you anything...), the Cannon(!), aim up/down for further away/closer to you, and see several go at one projectile(oh, and you can knock back those near the ones you get, regardless of what you're using against them; it would be nice if you could nail people behind others, usually you'll get the ones closest to you even if the one you were going for wasn't covered by them), and finally, the Boomerang. I know. Australia. Possibly wrong time, to boot. Still... it's cool! Once you launch it(near or not, straight or arc), you gotta wait to use it again 'til it returns... well, you can use your other weapon. Yes, you (mostly) get to choose which of both you want to run around with, and you can use them when and where you want. Slash at foes, then give 'em a dose of lead. Blocking(or for select portions, dodging) is always a press of a button. This is simple and easy to get into. The game-play is extremely fun and addictive. It isn't as similar to The House of the Dead as it might sound; it's largely less intense, without real jump-scares and not as cinematic. There are three difficulty settings, and it's challenging in other ways. It's also not as short; yes, every level is mere minutes(maybe ten or fifteen for big ones, tops) long; there are plenty of them. Before each, you get a briefing(they don't tell you that much, just a few lines), and you can shop, upgrade, equip items(to affect stats) and skills in the RPG aspect of this. Extra gold can be earned in the five Trials. This doesn't get boring(it didn't to me; and at its best, it's entertaining beyond description), for example temporarily granting you special abilities, asking you to work your way through labyrinths(free roam is a tad awkward; it does do the job, and it's not "bad", plus map is great), etc. Some of the stuff they come up with is pure awesomeness. They dig deep and get creative to keep it from growing stale, and they admittedly don't strike oil every single time the shovel hits the soil(horse racing is almost downright poor). This auto-saves plenty, and there are unlockables and ratings to keep you coming back. There is multi-player(not "against" one another, competing, no face-offs... it would have to be set up in another manner for that to be good), 3 mini-games, split-screen, 2 at a time. There is genuine plot to this, if it can be silly, like when you are seriously chasing an adulterer or judging a beauty contest(!). There are 4 scenarios, and as you are a new, nameless person in all, you get to meet the same characters(none of them have personality or are developed; they are stereotypes, and sometimes they are like those of Saturday morning cartoons) under differing circumstances(with or opposite them). Humor is goofy. Voice acting is fine, other than the occasional reading with... interesting emphasis. Dialog is clearly translated from Japanese, and often repeats the one trait assigned to the one speaking them. Music is marvelous, techno beats with sampled instruments from the time and region, fits the mood, exciting. AI leaves little to be desired. This is exactly what sets the Wii apart from PS3/X-Box. Withat that said, the graphical limitations of the console are noticeable. Settings tend to be forests or fortresses(of wood/stone), and it could be more visually immersive. I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of this experience/Katanas/"physical" (in-game) ass-kicking. 8/10