Samurai Warriors 4-II
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Release Date: 9/29/15
A sensation in its home country of Japan, and a cult hit in other countries, Koei’s Musou series is an amalgamation of real time strategy and frantic, beat-em-up style action. Since the original introduction to this formula with Dynasty Warriors 2 on PS2, the series for has seen eight sequels to its traditional Dynasty Warriors franchise, which follows the historic Three Kingdoms battle of Ancient China, as well as a plethora of other titles. Some of these are hybrids of existing fandoms, such as Gundam or even The Legend of Zelda, with the tried and true Musou formula attached, while others are in-house created franchises that follow different concepts from the Dynasty Warriors series altogether. For this review, we’re covering one such in-house franchise in Samurai Warriors 4-II, which is another entry in what was the first of Koei’s spin-off franchises. This specific title is actually a sequel to a sequel, more or less, adding more content and features to Samurai Warriors 4, which was released in the first quarter of the year.
Visually, Samurai Warriors 4-II on PS4 is very nice to behold. The environments, characters, and even the grunts are gloriously detailed, and the game is able to handle the expected overly large amount of characters on-screen at one time without noticeable issue at all. The soundtrack is also top notch as always, blending traditional Japanese themes with elements of rock and other influences. The game remains undubbed, which may or may not be a bother to you depending on your preferences. I personally prefer the native Japanese voices, especially in a game about ancient samurai warriors, but for those who’d rather have the English dub here that may be a concern… though given how the dubs have fared for this series so far, that number of players may be rather low.
Samurai Warriors 4-II features a bevy of modes to play, including thirteen new character driven scenarios. Among them is one for the new featured character Naomasa Ii. Playing through what is provided initially will unlock more story campaigns and, in turn, more characters to use in Free Mode, a mode where you can level characters up and collect items. Characters can collect weapons, which can be strengthened through the fusion of other weapons, and horses, which are new to this addition of the series and can be strengthened in a similar fashion. Strategy Tomes, which can be collected during battles or purchased from the shop, are used to unlock character abilities as they level up as well. As is typical with Musou games, your controlled character is a one man army, capable of single handedly wiping out hundreds or even thousands of grunt troops and handfuls of enemy commanders. Unlike Dynasty Warriors though, Samurai Warriors will challenge you with objectives during a battle, such as “Defeat an enemy officer in two minutes” or “Eliminate the boss with a super attack.” You control two characters which you can switch between on the fly, so utilizing them effectively is key to completing objectives, as the characters will most likely be on different spots on the map. The objectives reward you with various bonuses and count towards your overall bonus at the end of the stage. Though they do disrupt the action, as the game will temporarily pause itself to pull up a large version of the map to show you where the objective is, the feature is otherwise welcome, as it adds a bit of structure to what is typically the endless mowing down of grunts until the end of a stage.
Besides the Story and Free Mode, Samurai Warriors 4-II also features a survival mode that has an interesting concept to it. Your goal in essentially to ascend a tower, on each floor of which is one of four possible challenge rooms. The Chamber of Trials has you defeat as many enemies as possible during the time limit, the Chamber of Agility sees you race around a course of the sort avoiding obstacles that would slow you down, the Chamber of Death, the toughest of the lot, has enemies that can KO your character in a single hit, and finally, the Chamber of Riches allows you to beat on enemies and collect the coins that they drop. With more to it than simply “survive as long as you can,” this mode is a fun alternative to free mode to collect some extra experience and gold for characters if you desire. Finally, there is Dojo mode, which allows you to create your own custom characters to use in the Free and survival modes. There are a good amount of customization options and you can set your character attacks to any actual named character you may have unlocked on the roster.
While custom characters have made their way to Samurai Warriors 4-II, unfortunately the very interesting and fun Chronicle mode from the original Samurai Warriors 4 did not make it over to this version. This mode allowed you to forge the destiny of a custom character by traversing Japan as a mercenary, meeting named characters and participating in battles. I’m not sure why this mode didn’t make the cut in this version, but I’m guessing since it conflicts with Tecmo Koei’s Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 which is currently out and recent, so the fear might have been in place that one would cut the sales from the other. Whatever the reason, the mode is sorely missed in this version, especially if you had the chance to play it. Still, what’s here is fun, and the game also features local and online co-op multiplayer, which is always a good time in Musou games.
Short Attention Span Summary:
While the new storylines are great and interesting, the missing Chronicle mode hurts the overall package of what Samurai Warriors 4-II has to offer. The game feels more like an add-on more than a full-fledged product, as it doesn’t add enough and subtracts important elements that hurt the final experience a bit. While big fans like myself might see the value in new storylines and a new character, Samurai Warriors 4-II is a hard sell to those that have the original Samurai Warriors 4. Then again, if you have the original, you’re probably in Tecmo Koei’s demographic for something like this, so the call is yours.