Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Expect injured thumbs with Samurai Warriors 3

Samurai Warriors 3
Developed by Tecmo Koei Holdings Co., Ltd.
Published by Nintendo
Available on Wii
Rated T for Teen
Price: $49.99

Before you read this review, know one thing. If you like this series and want to keep your thumbs, you need to wear gloves.

With that tidbit out the way, let the review proceed.

Samurai Warriors 3 puts gamers into the shoes of 35 playable characters, each based on actual characters in Japanese history. The premise of the game is simple - you are given the task of plowing through tons of baddies, using powerful attacks like the Spirit Charge and Ultimate Musou Attack to rescue the empire and make the world a much safer place.

Developed by Tecmo Koei and published by Nintendo, Samurai Warriors 3 is essentially a hack-n-slash last generation game that has graduated to this generation. The series was hugely popular on last-gen consoles - PS2 and Xbox say hello - and adds a few new twists and modes, including the "Murasame Castle," which was never available outside of Japan.

You can also go online, hook up with your friends with Wiis and play with them as well in the "Murasame Castle" mode. You can also do free play, using any character you unlock in the story mode and play any missions over again.

There are some welcome additions to this game. Since it is based on a last-gen series, you can use the Classic Controller, as well as a GameCube controller to slay thousands - yes, thousands of hapless souls who won't see Christmas.

You can go online and slash the masses with your peeps as well.

The graphics are good - it's not HD - and look good. The soundtrack is good, and the spoken dialogue is available in Japanese and English.

Gameplay is a mixed bag. If you are familiar with hack-n-slashers, you know your thumbs will be in for a workout. You are given a task - and bonuses that give you extra earnings if you accomplish them. If you achieve your goals, you have more funds to buy weapon and armor upgrades in Story Mode. There's an arrow on the viewfinder that shows you where the next objective is. However, here's the trick - you have to understand the arrow's orientation. It was confusing as the devil for me. I didn't understand where I was heading half of the time and ended up accessing restricted areas that promptly stopped me from going further.

You can also ride horses in the game and barrel over the mindless hordes of zombies, I mean enemy soldiers. The bosses are powerful, but nothing you and your crew can't handle. You do have to keep an eye out on their rapidly dropping health. It's bad when the backup needs backup, right?

The negatives are - well, it's dated. I haven't played a hack-n-slash in a while and I had fun taking part in parts of Japanese history. However, the game can be frustrating. The controls with the Wiimote and Nunchuck worked fine, though it was still hard to figure out where my objective was often, and the button scheme, on the Wiimote and Nunchuck, requires some serious concentration in the heat of battle. Yes, imagine being surrounded by about 60 enemies and trying to figure out the button sequence to obliverate them. It's easier to just slash your way out and tally a body count higher than '24's Jack Bauer.'

The other drawback? The price tag. SW3 is about $20 overpriced. While it does offer more modes than the PS2 and Xbox games, it's still a polished last-generation game. If you love the series, check it out. If you are curious, rent it. And walk away when your thumbs cry 'uncle.'

The verdict? 2 (out of 4 stars) I had fun slashing the endless hordes of enemies and playing through historical battles. However, even with online modes, there's very little replay value with this. The confusing viewfinder also sours the experience.

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