Samurai Warriors 2
Time again to kill things with style in ancient Japan.
Preview by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
May 17th 2006
The Basics: The kings of the slash 'em up genre are still leaving the competition in the dust. Games like Ninety Nine Nights and Devil Kings might have prettier graphics, but the gameplay just doesn't have the fluidity and polish of Koei's unstoppable franchise. Samurai Warriors 2 is almost like a side story from the Dynasty Warriors series, but it could be their most advanced and evolved entry yet.
It features only ten playable characters, but they come loaded down with attacks and special moves with almost twice the possibilities as characters from the Dynasty Warriors series. Cumbersome items have also been replaced by a skill system, far more advanced than the one seen in Destiny mode in DW5:XL, where equipping certain skills will grant characters all manner of special passive and active abilities, from boosting stats to increasing your combat ability. Enemy generals are waiting to be destroyed and castles to be conquered in this fanciful version of Warring States era of Japan, but only if you have to the skill to succeed.
What we think: I admit it. I'm a Dynasty Warriors freak, but somehow missed out on the original Samurai Warriors since I'm not as keen on old Japanese history as I am ancient China. So all the characters were new to me, and while the basic style is in the familiar DW mold, there's plenty of new options with evasive maneuvers, the ability to call for your horse, and even more special attacks for the biggest combo possibilities ever. The camera still was a bit problematic, but it didn't trouble me once I got used to the new control using the right thumb stick. The graphics also seem dated when surrounded by next generation glory, but give me fun over normal mapping any day.
I had a blast with Samurai Warriors 2; literally when I was controlling a general whose staff transformed into a massive cannon. Combat is quick and intense, while the maps are complex to the point you need to consider the flow of battle. This is more than just DW5 with a different roster slapped in. There's significant changes and improvements that result in a faster and more demanding experience. Only the PS2 version was playable, and while it ran without any slowdown there was a bit of a draw distance issue that hopefully will be cured on the 360.