Samurai Warriors 2 Empires

[Mini-Review] Aging Empires

The steady stream of Samurai Warriors games are trying our patience, but they've still got their hooks.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: March 18, 2007
[The Good]
What can be said about Samurai Warriors 2: Empires that wasn't already said in our earlier preview? If you've played a Warriors game in the past -- and especially if you've played any of the variants and quasi-expansions that come with them -- you already know what kind of fun they can be.


I would argue, in fact, that the side bits have become more interesting than the main games because they often bolster the main hacky/slashy goodness with a bit of strategy and almost always combine the roster of characters from all previous games in the series into one huge ass mega-epic orgy of sword slashes, conquering kingdoms and hi-larious translated dialogue.

The gameplay, though, is as familiar as it's ever been, and tacking on some turn-based strategy isn't going to suddenly convert any folks that were turned off by all the button mashing and near-endless levels of upgrading and item/ability collecting. Is Empires better than the games before it? Nope. Is it as good? Yeah, and therein lies the attraction for us suckers.

[The Bad]
What can be said about Samurai Warriors 2: Empires that wasn't already said in our earlier preview? If you've played a Warriors game in the past -- and especially if you've played any of the variants and quasi-expansions that come with them -- you already know what kind of fun they can be.

I would argue, in fact, that the side bits have become more interesting than the main games because they often bolster the main hacky/slashy goodness with a bit of strategy and almost always combine the roster of characters from all previous games in the series into one huge ass mega-epic orgy of sword slashes, conquering kingdoms and hi-larious translated dialogue.

The gameplay, though, is as familiar as it's ever been, and tacking on some turn-based strategy isn't going to suddenly convert any folks that were turned off by all the button mashing and near-endless levels of upgrading and item/ability collecting. Is Empires better than the games than the games before it? Nope. Is it as good? Yeah, and therein lies the attraction for us suckers.

[The Verdict]
Feeling a little déjà vu? No, that wasn't a misprint up there; Samurai Warriors 2 Empires' greatest strengths are also its biggest flaws. The series is perhaps one of the most solid hack-and-slash franchises out there, and no matter how many times you'll conquer feudal Japan, it still has that draw for many (which is why these me-too add-ons keep happening -- people are clearly still buying 'em to get that fix). Unfortunately, that means that they still won't be terribly compelling to folks that don't quite "get" it (and let's be honest, with fairly obvious gameplay and more than enough chances, if folks aren't converted by now, they probably won't be).

The double-edged sword of the Warriors series means that with each new iteration, you're given the chance to jump into the fray, but there's never really any new reason (at least not one compelling enough to offset the tried-but-true gameplay) to run out and jump in if you abstained years ago. I know it's a weak sauce review, but it's the truth; this is a game that will persuade no one, but entertain all those that are already part of the fold. If you are, congrats, you should pick this up, as the mix of strategy and action is more than enticing, but if you hate the series... well, one more copy for the rest of us, and $30 saved for you. Win/win, no?
The Verdict
7.0

Why are we still playing these games? Because we have a problem, that's why, but it's fine, because so do you. Don't you? You wouldn't be reading this review if you didn't, so let's just both admit we share an addiction and cough up the cash.

7.0Graphics:

The framerate is, as it should be by now, nice and smooth for the most part, but that's mainly because of the few models scattered all over the foggy fields and the overstretched land textures. No surprises here.

6.0Sound:

Familiar tunes here too, but then this is an expansion rather than a full-on sequel. The clash of swords and thumping soundtrack are solid enough, but dear gad, the ceaselessly repetitious and hideous voice acting has got to go.

9.0Control:

Aside from the rage-inducing bits of juggling where you can't do anything to fight back (a series staple), there's really very little here keeping you from wading through the hordes.

7.0Gameplay:

Injecting strategy into the mix and the Risk-style struggle for land with turn-based objectives like satisfying regions' population and fortifying forces never stops being fun, but it's anything but new.