Inside Pulse 12

Review: Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate (PS3)

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Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate
Genre: Hack and Slash
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei-Tecmo
Release Date: 9/2/2014

The last time I played a Dynasty Warriors game, it was Dynasty Warriors 3, I think. I remember there were elephants in it and little else. When attempting to gain an understanding of what I was getting into with this game, I looked it up and almost ended more confused than when I had started.

Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is the fourth version released of the third game in the Warriors Orochi series of games. This series serves as a crossover title that combines characters from the Dynasty Warriors series and those from the Samurai Warriors games, and in this game, it also includes several original characters along with characters from other titles, such as the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden games. In comic book terms, it’d probably be considered an alternate reality crossover event that just kept going.

The third game is set years after the defeat of the Serpent King Orochi, who is, I guess, responsible for the dimensional rift that brought all these warriors together. The warriors have all settled into their own lives in this alternate timeline they now live in, and then a great beast known as the Hydra comes into their timeline and pretty much tears everything apart. In fact, as the game starts, there are only three of the warrior characters still left alive to try and lead an assault against the Hydra, and they quickly discover that they’re not powerful enough to defeat the creature. Lucky for them, a mystic named Kaguya arrives and brings them to a point outside of time right before their final battle. She’s able to travel through time, though because the Hydra itself messes with the time/space continuum she can’t go to before the Hydra showed up to warn everyone. What she can do is take the surviving heroes back to the pivotal battles that they lost and change the outcomes of those battles so that they can save their allies from dying. This is actually kind of a cool idea, and I like how the game is formed around that idea, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

That’s the main story, but if you’ve played Warriors Orochi 3 before, you might want to know what this Ultimate edition of the game brings. Oddly, following in the footsteps of the Street Fighter games there has been a Regular, then a Special, Hyper and now Ultimate edition of the game. The Ultimate edition still has the story mode, but also includes prequel and epilogue chapters. There are also new game modes.

These are the modes of Warrior Orochi 3:

Story Mode, which brings you through the tale as described above. During the game you fight through many battlefields, and the time traveling mechanic is used to add some variation here as sometimes you’ll have the chance to fight an alternate version of the battle depending on certain conditions. In the first chapter for example I fought a battle but was unable to save every character. Then a battle unlocked that had occurred prior to that one which I could play through that would allow me to try and recover siege weapons. Then I could play though the first battle again with the recovered siege weapons in a way that allowed me to save an additional character. There are many ways the game plays with the idea and it helps add a reason to repeat certain battles. If you’ve already played through the story mode and wish to just play the additional content you can upload your save or migrate it, at least you can for the Sony consoles, the Koei-Tecmo page on the matter doesn’t really explain how this is to be done with any other system.

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Free Mode, which allows you to pick and choose specific battles to replay on different difficulties.

Musou Battlefields, which allow you to edit pre-existing battles by changing the lines spoken, officers, conditions, and then upload, share and rate these creations with others. It’s an interesting idea that feels like it could have been so much more but the options available are very limited. I downloaded one and it was just the same exact battle but with a shorter time limit.

Duel Mode, this one is kind of strange. Apparently introduced in the Hyper version of the game Duel Mode is sort of a 3 vs 3 arena fighting game using the characters within the game and strategy cards that you unlock while playing through the Story Mode. Set from a side view you play one character at a time and can switch between your three fighters at just like you can in the main game. The strategy cards are mapped to the D-pad and create status effects like increasing damage for your character while lowering defense. So while fighting another team of three using all the moves that you would have in the regular battles you also have to balance the cards in your deck. Cards can only be used when you gain enough Battle Points, which are earned through the regular course of the fight.

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Then there’s Gauntlet Mode, which is new to Ultimate. In this mode you choose five characters who are all on screen at the same time. Then you fight through these generated maps that are covered with a fog called miasma. This mode turns the game into a unique hack and slash dungeon crawler as you explore maps, activate portals and locate treasure chests to get loot. In this mode you have to activate these dragon portals in order for an escape point to appear, then you go through additional battlefield layers until you clear them all and return to camp. All five characters are onscreen at once and you only control one at a time so there’s some management involved with switching between characters, the game also asks you to set a battle formation. These formations have their own finishing moves and skills to keep track of. It’s weird but it works really well for this type of game and is a content filled additional mode.

All of the above offer online play. Co-Op for Story, Free or Gauntlet, versus for Duel Mode.

Then there’s the Gallery where you can look at all of the character models, animations, unlocked pictures and movies and so on. It’s a robust Gallery if that’s your thing, it even includes pictures of the different character facial expressions for Happy or Sad or Angry and so on.

If you’ve never played a Musou game, or can’t remember much from the last time you might’ve played one, you might have heard that the games are all ‘just press the attack button to win’. There’s a little bit of truth to that but Warriors Orochi 3 impressed me by being much more than just a simple button masher. In this kind of video game you typically play as a character on a large battlefield with lots of enemies running around. The characters of myth and legend in this game are all much more powerful than the average foot soldier and you can sweep the floor with anyone not an officer fairly easily. You run into battle and proceed to square button everything to death.

That’s not really a winning strategy however, with the chaos of the battlefield you are often charged with either protecting specific characters or locations, attacking key points or other goals that come up during the battle. So if you get carried away by smashing the skulls of your enemies into the dirt you might lose the battle from just not having paid enough attention to the shifting objectives. Unless the goal is to stomp all the enemies into a bloody pulp. Enemy officers are more powerful and can come at you a few at a time. There’s also more powerful characters out there to fight that are nearly as over-powered as those you play as.

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So while there is a lot of cutting through enemy soldiers by the hundreds it’s also important to pay attention to the ever changing battlefield and be prepared for when a stronger enemy or situation comes up so that it doesn’t smear you across the digital landscape. Defeat means starting over from the beginning of the battle (though you can save and resume from the pause screen during battle).

Thankfully though the game gives you a lot of ways to cause destruction. There are 145 characters to unlock and choose from. From these characters before each battle in Story, Free and Duel modes you choose three of them to form a team. In battle you can freely switch between the three with the L2 or R2 buttons at any given moment and the two not being used at that moment will regain health and energy. In this Ultimate version of the game you can also press down on the D-pad to bring out the currently unused characters to fight alongside of you. Each characters has their own normal/charge attack combos (square and triangle buttons), a special attack (R1) which can be performed from the ground or air by every character in this game. X is the jump button and Musou attacks are mapped to the circle button, which is a powerful special attack. If you like horses you can press up on the D-pad to whistle for a horse which helps you get across the battlefield much quicker.

In addition to that there are counter attacks, support attacks, switch combos where you can keep an attack combo going while switching between characters, dash attacks, triple rush attacks, Musou burst attacks and a True Triple Attack. The latter of which is linked to a blue bar on the HUD that when filled can be unleashed by pressing the L2 and R2 buttons together in order to do an attack with all characters that tags enemies, makes them glow blue and puts them in slow motion, then gathers those enemies and with an explosion of energy turns them into items because why not.

So while I was lead to believe that this type of game was just press square to victory, there’s much more to it than I had been led to believe. Every time I unlock a new character I want to play with them to see how they are, but I also have some characters I prefer and want to keep playing with them in order to raise their levels and capabilities since every one of them I’ve played so far has felt different than the others. There’s just a lot more to this game that I had ever realized.

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Graphically however the game suffers a bit. Of course this is understandable, with the size of the battlefields, enemies on screen and effects going on at once either the graphics suffer or the performance does. The game performs fine for me with no slow down, however it isn’t a great looking game by any stretch. The environments look bland and flat. The enemies are generic looking. The main characters and enemies look good and the armor and weapons are well detailed. The Musou attacks look cool and appropriately devastating. Again it’s reasonable considering the scope of the game, though I wonder how the PS4 and Xbox One versions look by comparison.

The music is good and often the game will let you choose the music you listen to. The sound effects are serviceable and the voice acting is enthusiastic even if it isn’t in English. I normally do not mind subtitled games however there were times I wished there was an English option. Specifically there are lines shouted out to give you a sense of something happening elsewhere in the battle and if you don’t read it quickly enough it is gone. It’s not a very big deal once you get used to it.

To me the most impressive part is how much there is in this game. I know it’s the Ultimate version, but there’s just a plethora of content in the game. Even with everything I’ve so far written I still haven’t scratched the surface, there’s still the different character types (Speed, Power, Technique and Wonder), bonds that are formed between characters, teaparties, side missions, crafting, weapon forging, promoting officers (like Prestiging in Call of Duty, you reset back to level on after reaching 100 for additional abilities), the small customization of character armor colors in Gauntlet mode, and so on. This game is packed with stuff to do and each mode rewards your time with Growth Points to level characters up, cards, orbs, gems, lottery tickets, additional characters, costumes, wallpaper art, and more. This is a game that combines some of the fan favorite things of both franchises, this game does a great job in service to those same fans.

Short Attention Span Summary:
While I may not have known much about the game going into it I’m a fan now. Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate packs in a lot of content for established fans and is also a great starting point for those new to this type of game like myself.