Though I've been a fan of this mega series since Dynasty Warriors 3, I skipped the original Warriors Orochi due to some serious franchise burnout. I think I lucked out, since the developers have had the time to tweak some of the new mechanics and added some new features to keep me well satisfied.
If you haven't played either game in the Orochi series, it fixes a fundamental flaw that's existed since DW2. No matter what attacks and special ability your warrior possesses, the tougher battles often devolved into a case of beating down the generals until your life went red, unleashing true musou, and then running around like a headless chicken until that bar refilled to do it again. Not anymore! In Orochi Warriors, you control three heroes instead of one, freely switching with a tap of a trigger button. So now you can fight until you're wounded, unleash hell with your musou, and then switch to another character. While unused, your previous fighter will heal, leaving him or her fresh to fight when you need them most. This means the fun never stops.
You can pour many hours into Warriors Orochi 2, playing through its staggering cast and enhancing your favorites, and still not see the bottom.
The core combat hasn't changed much. You still have weak and strong attacks that can be stringed into juggles and knockdowns, with more chains unlocked as you level up. They also have one or two special attacks, which may use your gauge depending on the hero type. Power types don't stagger from normal hits and have an unblockable attack, Tec characters can score critical hits and launch counterattacks, while Speed characters can air dash and string special attacks are part of their combos. Defensively, you can block and air recover, but new to WO2 is assist moves, where your other heroes can jump in to knock enemies back as long as they have a little gauge to spend. These moves become essential on higher difficulties, since you'll often find yourself facing five or more generals at once, all out for blood.
Story mode holds five storylines of eight missions each to follow, either gearing up to prevent the return of Orochi, or playing as the demon himself. The actual story is shallow and fun, gradually unlocking more playable characters to keep things interesting. Dream mode are one shot battles with pre-selected characters based on some theme, like the strongest of the strong or the most loyal. Then you have Survival mode, where the series returns to its roots as a team-based, one on one, Soul Calibur style fighter. While not as deep as most fighting games, the huge cast makes it perfect for quick fun. If this mode has any flaw, it's the lack of options, being no more than an endless series of team matches with no way to adjust powers or difficulty. The same mode can be played against a friend in Versus with two different styles, either tag team or classic King of Fighters style. There's also horse racing and tower defense versus games, but the camera and view distance is too poor on the former, and the slowdown is unbearable in the latter. Shame as they could have been fun.
If you're an unlocking maniac, Warriors Orochi 2 will keep you occupied for a very long time. In every mission in story and dream modes, you can level up your heroes, gain weapons, achieve special goals to earn treasures, and accumulate a pile of bonus points to upgrade either characters or weapons. While character progression is locked with no control over their stats or skills, having over ninety unique fighters with their own talents and advantages is enough alone. Weapons can be upgraded with over a dozen abilities, combined and recombined into other weapons to raise their levels. Then on top of that you can use your treasures to give them special enchantments to boost their killing power right through the roof. You can pour many hours into Warriors Orochi 2, playing through its staggering cast and enhancing your favorites, and still not see the bottom. If you don't burn yourself out first.
It's still a port up from a PS2 game though, which means no online play, overall poor visuals, and an inexcusable frame rate. On release, it was borderline unplayable. Koei has released a patch to improve things, but there are still spots of major slowdown when battles become too hectic. Areas that might seem familiar, since the majority of this game's content in environments and heroes have been recycled from previous games. This particularly stings in the 360 version, costing $20 more than on the PS2. The voices are a mixed bag, though no surprise when there's so many of them, while the soundtrack is one of the weaker entries in the series, with the menu music growing downright annoying. So as satisfying as this game is to play, I can't help wishing it had been wrapped up in a more polished package.