Tired of the summer drought cramping your gaming lifestyle? Looking for another excuse to avoid the sandy shores of the beach? Well, look no further as we go through the Summer Daze with a crop of memorable games for you to ponder over. Good, bad, or just downright ugly, we shall be reviewing past titles all summer long. Today’s addition is: Warriors Orochi 2.
My conclusion in my review of the first Warriors Orochi title stated that it was really a fans’ game, and that non-fans of the series would likely find it impenetrably steeped in the mythology of the series and thus inaccessible to new players. Warriors Orochi 2 takes this to even greater levels of recursive absurdity, becoming more of a fans’ game’s fans’ game. This is a title whose improvements on the previous game’s formula are so incremental and its overall structure so similar to its predecessor’s that I can’t really recommend it to anyone other than big-time fans of the game that came before it, even if they are ordinarily fans of the Koei Warriors franchise. Fortunately, as such a fan of the previous game, I did like Warriors Orochi 2 quite a bit, so I hope that you will follow me through moments of both praise and scrutiny as I take a second trip through China-Japan-land on my quest to slay the Serpent King…again.
|PROS||Unique new twist to treasure system, Dream Mode, playable cast expanded to a record-breaking 92 characters.|
|CONS||Functionally identical to Warriors Orochi, lower overall number of missions, hilarity of concept wears thin more quickly.|
|WTF?!||I say again, 92 CHARACTERS.|
The plot is a continuation of the story from the previous game, and the epic struggle for dominion over the twisted new world of Three Kingdoms China plus Sengoku Japan unfolds as follows:
Orochi comes back.
Yeah, that’s really about it. There are a few new allegiances, unusual new enemy and ally characters in the forms of Samurai Warriors 2 Xtreme Legends characters, mythologized real-life individuals like Kiyomori Taira, Yoshitsune Minamoto, and Himiko, as well as outright mythical creatures like Sun Wukong, but in general the plot features no real deviations from the previous norm or variations on themes already established in the first game. This is marginally offset, however, by the inclusion of a story path from Orochi’s point of view, one that depicts his much-spoken-of but hitherto-fore unseen conquest of the combined forces of the Three Kingdoms and Samurai clans from the first game. It’s a marginally more interesting look at what happened before the events of the Warriors Orochi, and even hints at some deeper motivations behind Orochi’s actions, but it’s not quite enough to make this game’s story feel like anything more than a re-tread.
Combat works the same way as well, with character balance and play style remaining basically unchanged from the previous game. This is, again, offset by the inclusion of several new aforementioned playable characters, but the unlocking of these characters actually proceeds in a much more linear fashion here. While the preceding title featured branching paths for each of the missions, this one features one path per storyline, meaning that completing each of the storylines once will unlock the vast majority of the characters. On the one hand, this means that everyone can have a chance to play as their favourite Warrior that much faster. On the other, it shortens the gameplay time considerably, and considering that several of the stages and situations are actually recycled from the original Warriors Orochi, this tends to cause a deficit of replay longevity.
Contrariwise, the out-of-combat gameplay has received a boost in the form of a new mechanic with which to customize your Warrior of choice. As with the previous game, you can use experience gleamed from combat to both level up characters and fuse weapons. What is new is the “Weapon Upgrade” system, which allows you to sacrifice unused weapons to give larger and more unusual boosts to weapons you use more regularly. By collecting treasures in the middle of missions (with instructions on how to get them available in the mission briefing screens), you can unlock new upgrades which you must then sacrifice unused weapons containing certain properties to create. Some upgrades require very basic starting weapons, others require you to carefully build a weapon specifically to sacrifice as an upgrade. The upgrades’ effects can be quite varied, and they will be preserved even if they weapon they are attached to is fused, so players have that much more choice in deciding how individual Warriors perform in combat.