Preview by Gabriel Jones (Email) February 20th 2012
In the eternal struggle for peace, heroes will rise. It is said that only the mightiest are capable of ending the chaos of war, for at least a little while. With the passage of time will come new conflicts and the call for new heroes must be answered. For over a decade, Omega Force has been developing games that explore this philosophy. Common themes include the importance of unity and the consequences of ambition as well as power. The most important theme, however, is just how freaking powerful the heroes can become through leveling up, acquiring rare weapons, and equipping dozens of skills. I may as well look at the games as they are: one excuse after another to make my favorite very-loosely-based-on-reality warriors so absurdly strong that with a single swing of their sword the earth cracks open, lightning shatters the sky, and scores of men are scorched, smashed, and shocked all at the same time.
Originally, it was just the Dynasty Warriors series, where the Three Kingdoms fought endlessly to unite China under their own banner. This was joined by Samurai Warriors, where the heroes of the Warring States period continually battled with the hopes that the chaos would eventually end. This led to Warriors Orochi. Finally, we have a series where fans everywhere could settle who would win in a battle between Lu Bu and Musashi Miyamoto. Thanks to the magic of alternate worlds and rifts in the space-time continuum, these heroes could not only fight each other, but also team up and eventually take down the Serpent King Orochi. Sure it's more of the same, but who could possibly turn down a reason to pit legends against legends?
In one month, Omega Force is going to top itself with Warriors Orochi 3. Along with becoming a god of war, you are going to have to undo time itself, recruiting heroes of all ages and existences, just for the ultimate battle against the greatest threat imaginable. When (if?) the dust settles, you'll have overcome armies hundreds of thousands strong, teamed up with over 120 playable characters, and spent weeks filled with sleepless nights just to become the savior of the universe. Maybe you'll do it alone, maybe it'll be with a friend sitting next to you, or maybe it'll be one of your Xbox Live or PlayStation Network buddies.
Whatever the case, you'll find that you're never alone. Like the previous entries, Orochi 3 allows for teams of three heroes to charge the battlefield. All of your preferences and favorites can be accounted for. For example, my team of choice is liable to be Okuni, Nobunaga Oda, and Himoko. The perfect combination of grace, ruthlessness, and "bullet-flinging like I got lost on the way to being a boss in a 2D shooter." You, on the other hand, might find more interest in characters like Ryu Hayabusa and Ayane, who are taking breaks from demon slaying and volleyball playing. Or you may want to team up with Joan of Arc or Achilles. There are also a handful of new characters, such as the Robocop-meets-J-pop Ne Zha or the mysterious Shuten Doji. Whoever you decide to roll with, expect to develop bonds with your allies through events on the battlefield as well as banquets.
In battle, you'll discover new and exciting abilities like swapping between characters in mid combo and the ability to call for immediate support when you're being attacked. Also to coincide with the "Speed," "Power," and "Technique" character types, there will be a brand new one known as "Wonder." More versatility is always nice. While features such as these might be an amusing curiosity on the easiest settings, you're likely going to have to master them to survive the Chaos and Nightmare difficulties, where a single combo can spell death no matter how many stats you have maxed out.
One of the interesting new features is the ability to customize your own battlefield. As you complete stages in the story and free modes, you can pick out elements to create the scenario of your dreams. These stages can then be shared with others over your favorite console's network. I'm not certain of the actual possibilities of this scenario customization toolkit, but if nothing else it's an interesting experiment and should provide a nice break from the constant battles and mountains of corpses that typically make up an entry in the Warriors franchise. Other features such as towns and shops will also make their appearance in this game.
While this March is going to be absolutely loaded with games, I see no reason why Warriors Orochi 3 can't be worth checking out. It is completely understandable if you're not a fan of the series or even the genre, but speaking for myself, I can't get enough of it. There is a definite appeal to cutting wide swaths in armies of hapless soldiers, collecting every last incredible piece of equipment, and getting to the point where even a hot-blooded yell will cause adversaries to fall over dead. If nothing else, this game will certainly be a welcome break after making those galaxy-saving decisions, fighting in the streets in that other crossover title, or saving Japan's red light district from zombies.