Samurai Warriors 2

Samurai Warriors 2

We take a hands-on dip into feudal Japan once again.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: July 10, 2006
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"Oh, god, it's another Warriors game! They're all the same! Stupid people keep buying them! Ho ho hoooooo!" Good, now that's out of the way, let's actually get down to the preview. Yes, it's another Warriors game, this time the second instance of replacing Romance of the Three Kingdoms-era China with feudal-era Japan, and yes, we spent the past week or so hacking our way through thousands of enemies with more presses of the Square and Triangle buttons than our poor DualShock 2s have seen in months. And you know what? Not much has changed. Know what else? We still like the games.

Call it a better sense of familiarity or perhaps a stronger grasp of Japanese names as opposed to Chinese ones, but all of us in the office just sort of take to the Samurai Warriors games a little more naturally than we do to the Dynasty games. That's not to say everyone in the office likes the games, but we all certainly seem to dig the Japanese-themed ones better.

Of course, for most, it'll still seem like the game is unchanged from the formula that was set up during the PlayStation days with the original Dynasty Warriors; one man or woman against hundreds of enemies on a map, cutting through them by the dozen with special moves. You're given a basic attack (Square) and then a charged-up attack (Triangle) and, if you can fill the Musou Meter, a special attack (Circle).

For the uninitiated (and are there any of you left out there?), the first and second attacks can be mixed in varying levels, starting with two presses of the Square Button, and then a Triangle press for a more powerful finisher. As your character grows stronger, you'll be able to launch longer basic combos, and branch off slightly to deliver the Triangle Button-driven finishers. Though things are certainly loosely based on real history, the series has always been something of a multi-threaded take on the events that went into the unification of Japan and the various friends and enemies that made it possible.

To this end, more than two dozen players, all with their own stories -- some of which retell the same thing from different perspectives, and others that have their own side stories -- are playable in the game. You'll only spot three familiar faces from the lineup of seven characters initially available; Oichi, Mitsuhide Akechi and Yukimura. The newcomers; Iayasu Tokugawa, Mitsunari Ishida, Ginchiyo Tachibana, Kotaro Fuma all represent new sides to the story (or at least new sides that are available right from the start), and beating the main story mode with each of them unlocks more.

It's more than just different faces; if you've played any of the other games in the series, the same basic truisms are still in place, meaning the different characters' super (Musou) meters charge faster, last longer, some can attack better, have more health, defense, and so on. They all have fairly different special attacks, mapped to the Triangle and Square buttons, and by holding down R1, you can do things like plant bombs or execute a dashing attack or call a horse from anywhere. Though it's a minor thing, it does afford some strategy that breaks up all the constant button mashing.

Though you'll gain experience from simply axing fools by the hundreds, the same basic goals that are a staple of the series is always present, meaning you'll have to balance saving friends with making sure mission-critical objectives are still solved -- and often they're at opposite ends of the massive maps. Though the secondary missions are almost never required, they often make the overall goal a lot easier. Saving a commander means his troops can help you later, escorting a demolitions team means you won't have such a hard time storming a keep, and so on.

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