It’s a bit hard to describe Samurai Warriors 4-II, while many will see it as an enhanced version of the 4th game in the franchise there is evidence to show it stands apart from last year’s version. Essentially it uses all of the elements of the 4th instalment but areas such as the story have been rearranged, modes have been removed, new ones added and mechanics have had some revamping. So have all of the changes to this hack-n’- slasher really made that much of a difference and is it worth a look? That’s a big yes.
Samurai Warriors story is set in the Sengoku era of feudal Japan, around the 16 to 17 centuries. The main difference between this game and the last is that instead of a story that focuses on individual clans this game breaks up the plot to focus more on the individual characters. Each scenario is accompanied by some fantastic looking cutscenes and the dialogue is very well written and helps to flesh out characters personalities. It all makes for a much more engaging narrative and you can gauge more with the characters, however the story scenario is cut back quite a bit from the original and it leaves some unanswered questions. Still there still enough content to give you a really solid and somewhat lengthy campaign.
Story is your first stop when starting out but the most original mode on offer is survival which throws you into a castle and gives you various objectives for each floor. You might be asked to take out specific named officers or defeat a set number of enemies before you can progress to the next floor. The more floors you ascend the greater rewards and rarer weapons. It’s a very enjoyable mode, that’s not only great for testing out and getting to grips with the huge range of casts playstyles but allows you to quickly level up characters and their abilities. If you fancy testing your skills further or just want to go looting there’s also Time Attack and Gold Rush modes, the latter has you beating the snot out of everyone in sight for their gold while the former is exactly what it sounds, dispatching enemies as quickly and efficiently as possible. These modes are okay for what they are but you’re not likely to spend a whole lot of time here.
Everyone should surely know by now the Warriors playstyle of taking on armies of enemies, defeating generals and capturing territory. Square is your standard attack and combining it with triangle opens up a range of combos, the 4 game added the new Hyper moveset which utilises chained tringle combos with square as the finisher. It adds slightly more depth as Hyper combos are great for mowing down great quantities of enemies but aren’t very effective against generals who can block and parry attacks. That’s where the standard combos come into play, it’s a slight thing but it forces you to think before rushing in with reckless button mashing tactics. Character switching makes another welcome comeback allowing you to switch between characters on the fly mid-battle with the press of a button. Originally it sounded like there may be some huge performance lag with this mechanic but it’s actually incredible smooth and you’re always kept in the action. Mission objectives are actually the most irritating element of the game. Each time something new occurs the map and goal is brought up to fill the screen, which really breaks up the games fast-paced flow.
Upgrade mechanics have also taken an update, in particular the weapon and abilities options. Upgrading weapons now takes the path of combining several similar weapons together to create one stronger tool compared to Samurai Warriors 4 gem based upgrade mechanic that gave mixed results. It’s just a slight change but it’s much more enjoyable. With the abilities previously you only upgraded your character and hoped to get something useful at the end, now there’s a whole grid based system in place. During battles you now acquire ability tomes that are used to purchase character skills the catch is tomes are shared so you could replay levels constantly to acquire more or ration them among your fighters. This is a much nicer way of upgrading your characters plus it’s easy to use and adds some extra strategy.
Graphically there is no change from the original, but then there was nothing particularly wrong with them in the first place. Every element of the visuals looks impressive and it’s all very well polished from the scenic and chaotic battlefields, the detailed character models and the extremely flashy movesets. What’s more is that the hack-n’-slash gameplay runs at silky smooth 60 fps even with several hundred angry soldiers running amok. Obviously though if you’re playing split-screen you’ll have to drop back to 30fps but graphically everything still looks top notch. Now there’s just one slight niggle that I personally found rather frustrating; horses. Horses are nothing new to the series and riding them plays exactly the same as usual it’s calling them that’s the issue. They only arrive half the time and when they do turn up they run around like headless chickens forcing you in to chasing them.
Samurai Warriors 4-II is neither sequel nor expansion but sit’s somewhere neatly in the middle. Reusing environments, characters and combat mechanics from the original the narrative has a nice rewrite to make a more engaging character focused story and upgrade mechanics have been revamped to make them easier and more enjoyable to navigate. Fans of the series and even the 4th instalment will still enjoy this, there’s enough of a change to make it stand out and it’s also a great place to start for those new to the franchise.
This review is based off a review code of Samurai Warriors 4-II provided by Koei Tecmo.
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.