One Piece Pirate Warriors 3
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Developer: Omega Force
Release Date: 08/25/2015
The One Piece Pirate Warriors series is a bit of an odd duck. While they can call be classified as Dynasty Warriors games with a Once Piece skin pasted on, there have been some bumps in the road. The first game, as you can read in my review, offered a unique story mode that added some platforming and puzzle solving to the mix. The second game, which you can also read about in my review, ditched that style for a more straight DW game. For this third entry, Omega Force has chosen to redo the events from the first game, add some from the second game, and give it all the typical DW treatment. It’s also the first time the series has been available for retail purchase in the US, and is available on more than one system. In a way, it almost feels like this is a reboot.
There are three modes of play in this game. The story mode takes you through the various arcs in One Piece and puts you into a giant battle for each one. It covers pretty much every arc that I can think of, going through the time skip and a little beyond. It even has a bonus chapter where you battle Doflamingo. It’s also worth noting that several of the missions in the game cover events that were simply skipped in the previous games. You get to battle against Kuro and actually meet Brook before he just randomly joins your team. There are just over twenty missions in the game, and it covers a lot of ground with much brevity. This is not a point by point retelling of the story. It covers the basics and hits the highlights. You don’t have to know what’s going to have fun, but it will definitely help.
The first of the other modes is basically a free mode. During the story, you’re limited as to what characters you can use. In free mode, you can use whomever you choose, so long as they’ve been unlocked. You can also use any character in dream mode. However, the missions here are different. Basically, each island on the map is a mission. Completing a missions unlocks nearby missions. The goal here is to build roads to special missions where you battle against a character. Beating a character mission will unlock that character for use. Seeing as this is the part of the game where you unlock people like Ace, Whitebeard, Teach, and Mihawk, you’re encouraged to worth through it. The cool thing is that each battle gives you random allies, enemies, and objectives. Also, the difficulty goes up for the later missions, giving you a reason to level people up later on.
For the franchise’s first foray onto the PS4, it looks solid. The characters are faithfully recreated in 3D, and the animations and expressions are authentic. Luffy’s stretchy legs and plastic powers are in full effect here. However, the game is pretty bland to look at. Maps are rarely more than a series of identical looking rooms connected by identical looking hallways. Even in open air areas, this is the case. There is some attention to detail for specific areas, but it just doesn’t impress. Also, while the heroes and villains look great, most of what you’ll see are endless hordes of generic enemies. Even with a few different models per type, it gets old quickly.
When it comes to audio, the game is pretty much identical to the previous ones. The Japanese vocal track is all that’s available, but they’re pretty solid. The downside is that you’ll likely miss characters speaking mid-combat because you’re too focused on the action. The music is generic, but energetic rock that works as background music to the action. The sound effects are pretty much pulled straight from the other games, so there’s nothing new to talk about there. It’s all serviceable and solid, but no one would blame you for just listening to your own music while you play.
Each mission, although it may have different objectives, plays out pretty much the same. You start the battle with a small foothold against a horde of enemies with various territories on the map. Most of these are locked or barred in some fashion at first. Your goal is to take control of enemy territories and defeat enemy leaders. There’s also the side goal to get as many kills as possible, get as many special kills as possible, and do it all as fast as possible. Doing so boosts your rank, which will give you various bonuses.
The controls are simple. You move your character in the typical fashion. Left stick moves, and right stick steers. There’s a lock-on mechanic that activates for tougher enemies, and an adjustable mini-map to help you from getting lost. Combat is done by using various combinations of two different attacks. There’s a stronger, more direct attack used for targeting a specific enemy, and a weaker sweeping attack that mow down herds of weaker foes.
You have a few different meters to keep track. The most obvious one is the health meter, but you also have the special meter and the crew/kizuna gauge. The special meter builds as you land hits/take damage and fills up in sections. Each section represents a special attack that you can use. These are powerful attacks that hit large portions of the field, and are impossible to block. As you progress, you can unlock an extra special attack that uses two bars for an even stronger attack. The crew gauge lets you switch between support characters and builds as you land attacks while it will weaken a bit if you take damage. As it fills up, you’ll start to see your support character assist in attacks. This builds up those special kills I talked about earlier. When the meter is completely full, you can activate Kizuna Rush, which gives you extra power for a bit and lets you use an extremely powerful team attack. The nifty thing here is that once you activate the rush with a specific character, they will assist you later on if you switch supports. This encourages you to build up your crew gauge with your full team, and lets you get more powerful as the battle continues.
Post battle, you can upgrade your character. They gain experience during missions, letting them level up and build up stats. You can spend money to level up any of your characters to the highest level among other characters you have unlocked. This lets you avoid having to pick favorites. There are also coins you can equip. These are a little different than last time. Building up stats for a character requires specific coins, and each one you add will boost the stat a bit. If you can equip all of the coins it asks for, that stat will level up and you’ll be able to add more new coins to the total. Common coins are used up when you equip them, but rare coins can be used by everyone without you having to constantly move them around.
If you really want to dig into the game, there’s a lot to do. For every story/free mode mission, there are various objectives you need to complete in order to unlock part of the “legend”. Completing these legends gets you rare coins, helps you unlock stuff for the gallery, and is something you’ll need to do if you want to get all of the trophies. There are plenty of characters to choose from/level up as well, and a you can always play online with a single partner to keep things mixed up. There’s also an extra difficulty that unlocks when you beat the story.
As with all of these games, however, it all comes down to a grind. Missions often last as long as twenty minutes, and in that time you will have defeated literal thousands of boring enemies that couldn’t harm you even if they tried. The boss fights require little to no skill or thought to beat either, so it’s the kind of game you turn your brain off for when you play. The game is in desperate need of variety, but there’s little to be had. While you can switch up characters to break the monotony, that will likely only last a mission or two before you’ve seen all there is to see.
So, in the end, this game is more of the same, but offers a decent bit of fun for fans of the show. It can definitely be that game you play to kill some time while you think about more important matters or listen to the radio. For the future of the franchise to be truly bright, they’re going to have do something to combat the monotony. For now, it’s acceptable.
Short Attention Span Summary
One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 basically redoes story from the first game in the style of the second, adds a new mode (that still has you do the same battles), and offers one new mechanic to keep players coming. It’s a serviceable game for fans of the show or action fans looking to mow down thousands of foes in a short time span. It suffers from repetition to the point where it has nothing new to throw the player after a single battle or two. If you liked the previous games, you’ll like this. If not, this will definitely not be the one to change your mind.