The hack ‘n’ slash Warriors series has been going for several years now and in its time Koei Tecmo have managed to add a good number of cross-over specials to their franchise. Previous cross-overs include the Japanese mecha series Gundam (Dynasty Warriors: Gundam), Nintendo’s epic Zelda franchise (Hyrule Warriors) and coming up is the Square Enix’s JRPG series Dragon Quest (Dragon Quest Heroes). Then there’s the epic pirate adventure; One Piece Pirate Warriors. This mix of Warriors massive scale fights with One Piece’s completely mad plot makes it a complete winner. Many times in the show you’ll see the straw hat crew mowing down wave after wave of enemies culminating in boss fights, so to actually do that gives fans a massive sense of satisfaction.
Monkey D. Luffy is a boy with a big dream, to locate the world’s greatest treasure the One Piece and be named the king of the pirates. But before that he’ll need to gather up a strong pirate crew. Then there’s the marines the worlds law enforcers to deal with. Oh and there’s all the pirates out there fighting for the same goal. Honestly the story is barking mad. The straw hat captain ate a cursed fruit which now means he’s made of rubber, his crew consists of a talking reindeer, a speedo wearing cyborg and a singing skeleton plus at one point they even go to ‘heaven’ and kick lumps out of a god. That said it’s still great fun (I’ve been keeping track of it on and off for over 10 years). The game will immediately appeal to all One Piece fans but surprisingly it does very well to appeal to newbies, the story jumps around a bit but you get the main points. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, or have just fallen behind, there are currently over 700 episodes in the anime and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. In legend mode you play as the straw hat crew pirates as this game looks to condense all of the major series arcs into a neat 17 missions lasting nearly 15 hours.
The story mode may not take that long to complete but there is an extensive amount of replayability. Each mission comes with a Legend image, to complete the picture you must accomplish a set of goal within the mission such as attaining S-rankings, finishing the final boss of with a special or view all of the optional treasure events. You can also unlock costumes and new moves from playing scenarios with particular characters too which greatly extend the games length. Thankfully there’s enough variety in each of the levels so that they don’t become overly repetitive. Beyond Legend mode’s story you have two other scenarios; free log and dream log. The first lets you replay Legend’s story scenarios with any character from the roster. The second plays out on a world map in which each island has a random target to accomplish. This is the mode you’ll probably spend the most time in as there are many more scenarios and islands to explore but offers special unlockable characters.
Fans of the series will be happy to see a lot of familiar faces from the lengthy One Piece timeline. Many only play supporting roles but you won’t be disappointed with the nearly 40 characters that are playable. Beyond the nine members of the straw hat crew including Luffy, Nami and Zoro there’s pirate warlords including Boa Hancock, marines like Smoker and several allies you meet along the way like Fire Fist ‘Ace’. What’s great is that every character has their own unique fighting style to experiment with. Battling nets you Beli (currency) and experience for levelling up your characters. Obviously the higher you are the stronger. It’s not necessary either to level up one character at a time as you can also use Beli to level them up (but only to the highest level you’ve achieved) which is a real time saver.
The gameplay follows the usual Warriors setup of taking on hordes of weaker enemies to reach the elite pirate generals. Using a combination of the square (light) and triangle (heavy) you can pull of a large range of flashy combo attacks. At your disposal are also your Kazuna attacks and most interestingly are your Kazuna rush specials. By pushing the up and down directional keys you can select a team member to party with, then by fighting you build up your affinity with them. When it reaches max you can unleash a Kazuna rush attack which boosts your skills for a short period, activating it again releases a devastating attack from you and your pirate chum. Each affiliation you forge means multiple characters (4 in total) join you in this attack and increase its power. Even if you’re not familiar with this games dynamics the fluid combat makes it accessible for anyone to get involved and knock out a couple of moves.
Multiplayer is one of the best aspects of any Warriors game, taking on armies with a friend is great fun. However in local multiplayer you’re going to run into some performance issues. For example to handle having so many enemies between two people your range of view is significantly diminished and you’ll see objects popping into place. At one stage I was running towards a group of enemies clearly visible ahead of me when a wall sprung up inches in front of my face. Then when you enter your Kazuna attack mode you and your friend may experience some harsh slowdown. The multiplayer is still a very fun mode but be prepared to make some compromises with the performance.
Visually the game looks fantastic. The style very much matches the anime and manga and cutscenes utilise a combination of both. Scenes play out in manga strip panels while the flashier fight sequences have been lifted directly from the anime and perfectly recreated in 3D. The animation was created very professionally too matching scenes from the series perfectly such as the extremely stupid faces characters pull when they’re balling their eyes out. As for the environments they’re very bright and there’s always something going on although some areas are poorly mapped out making them confusing to navigate while other are just plain irritating (Thriller Bark story mission). One issue found was that there was an odd mix with load times. Just to be clear I was playing an installed version of the game. Loading the missions up was very fast taking only seconds but changing costumes (which for some characters also alters moveset) took more than a minute which was rather frustrating.
Underneath the One piece slathered visuals and story you have your typical Warriors game, but the two fit perfectly together. The hack ‘n’ slash combat feels nice and fluid and makes it accessible for anyone despite their level of skill plus the anime style is a real treat to look at just be wary of the drop in local multiplayer. One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is a game that fans of both franchises will absolutely love plus its one that players unfamiliar to series will be able to enjoy.
This review is based off a promo copy of One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 provided by BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment.
This review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down. It’s been published on my personal blog, DanielVaughanReviews, out of respect for the developers/publishers that were kind enough to give me review copy of their game.