Played on: Playstation 2
Having played and enjoyed Samurai Warriors 2, I’m disappointed that Koei choose to come out with Samurai Warriors 2: Empires instead of an expansion pack. Still, with the promise of the return of the Create-A-Warrior or CAW system and the playability of Katsuie Shibata and Kojiro Sasaki compel me to give this game a try.
This game is a huge disappointment, to say the least. Frankly, this game is a waste of time.
Let’s start with the gameplay, shall we? In this game, there is only one thing to do in each stage – kill soldiers. That’s it. No side missions, just killing soldiers after soldiers. Enemy generals will respawn once they are defeated until they’ve had enough and surrender to me. I capture “bases” by killing the base captains in each designated location on the map. Once the enemy lord shows up, I finish him or her off to win the stage. The actual gameplay is more challenging in the sense that the enemy does more damage even on Novice difficulty and they block more often too, but that’s about it. It’s all kill, kill, kill in each stage and I will be doing this again and again until my brain shuts down in protest. It’s not as if I can go on a killing spree – each stage lasts for only twenty five minutes or so and there are too few enemy soldiers, all scattered across the map, in each stage to go berserk on. Playing this game is tedious beyond belief. The easter egg of this game – such as getting 1,000-kill medals that will help a character level up beyond his initial set limits – requires constant repetition of this tedious action.
In between rounds of tedious fighting there are some lame “strategy” sessions like choosing policies and what-not that really don’t do anything of consequence other than being more exercise in random button mashing.
Koei has been lazy when it comes to developing this game. Everything about the unique characters is the same as it is back in Samurai Warriors 2, right down to the movesets and fourth weapons. Therefore, playing this game ends up unlocking the same things I’ve unlocked in the previous game. Even movies and cutscenes to be unlocked are the same as that of the previous game! As for the “new” characters, Katsuie Shibata’s moveset is a mix of Tadakatsu Honda’s and Yukimura Sanada’s while Kojiro Sasaki’s is a mix of Kenshin Uesugi’s and Mitsuhide Akechi’s. Therefore, they aren’t exactly “new” characters. Even more insulting is how poor Katsuie Shibata’s fourth weapon is the same as the CAW generic spear character’s.
The CAW mode is a huge flop. The movesets of the CAW sword, naginata, and spear characters are the same as that in Samurai Warriors. I can “customize” my own characters only by selecting from predetermined generic characters and bodyguard types already in this game, how exciting.
The one good thing about this game though is the sheer amount of comedy. It is as if Koei, realizing how underdeveloped this game is, tries to distract me by making me laugh. Unfortunately, the humorous dialogues between the characters have to be unlocked and it’s tedious to play this game again and again. Still, it’s a riot as Nõ is now a complete femme fatale, Nobunaga Oda becomes too cool to humor anyone, Masamune Date flips everyone off, Hanzo Hattori is now a depressed loser sulking in the shadows, Ina is a total prude everyone makes fun of, and Musashi Miyamoto is a hilarious dumb jock. The voice acting is excellent this time around as the various nuances of the characters’ irreverent exchanges are captured perfectly. This game gleefully mocks Kanetsugu’s obsession with honor, Kenshin’s stoic nature, and Nagamasa Azai’s emo nature. But that’s about the only good thing about this game.