I’ve always believed I was born in the wrong age. It’s not that I’m so different from my brothers and sisters from this generation, it’s more that I have always dreamed about growing up in the time of the Samurai. I’m a romantic in that regard and I know this because, in all of my daydreams, I’ve never seen myself as anything less than the greatest sword fighter. Let’s be honest here, reader, I’d probably be a terrible Samurai, in fact, I probably wouldn’t be one at all! I’d probably be a farmer or a laborer who still, even while living in that time, would dream of picking up a sword and fighting for my land.
Thus is the beauty in fantasy. It is video games like the newly released ‘Samurai Warriors 4’ that allows me to momentarily quell what occupies my mind and I couldn’t possibly think of a better title to load into my PlayStation 4 than this. It’s been quite a while since I last partook in a ‘Warriors’ game of this type and I must say I was quite excited to jump back into a sub-genre I’ve missed. Already you can tell that I quite like ‘Samurai Warriors 4’ but I urge you to follow me through the rest of this review so you can be able to see exactly WHY it is that this game has struck a cord with me.
Anyone who’s played a ‘Dynasty Warriors’ or ‘Samurai Warriors’ game before is already mostly aware of how ‘Samurai Warriors 4’ plays but for those of you who’ve avoided this series for its entire run, allow me to give you the basics: ‘Samurai Warriors 4’ has players chose from different armies all based on historical entities that existed during a period of Japan that was engulfed by war. Each army has different characters to play as, you chose these characters, you set up their equipment and you’re thrown into the middle of a conflict that spans across battlefields of various sizes.
It’s a hack and slash game that dishes up certain victory requirements to players which they must complete. From the beginning of the battle to the end, there are many things a player can do but most come in the form of bonus requirements that may net them extra money or new weapons. Introduced into ‘Samurai Warriors 4’ is a game mode called ‘Chronicle Mode’ which has players create their own warrior and partake on a journey that will have them meet many of the ‘Samurai Warrior’ series characters who may join them but also may fight against them. This mode is, by far, the most impressive of the new game.
Some may say that this type of game gets very old very fast and a younger Frank may have agreed with them. While ‘Samurai Warriors 4’ does tend to get a little monotonous after an hour or so of play, there are a few different ways it can be played and it’s those different ways that continue to spark fires in a player’s heart. Multiplayer Mode, Online Mode, Story Mode, Chronicle Mode, the list goes on. What helps the game keep its level of excitement is that there’s also plenty to unlock through gameplay.
All the different modes allow you to unlock different weapons, armours, playable characters and more, so it never feels as though you’re being forced to play one mode after the other. This is, by the way, for the people out there who are quick to get bored of the amazing feeling that you get when taking down hordes of enemies at a time. Something the ‘Warriors’ series of games are arguably most known for. Everything you do in combat is smooth. Whether it is transitioning from an offensive to a defensive stance or from attacking to escaping, everything just flows and it makes the game seem so much more ‘realistic’.
Story-wise, ‘Samurai Warriors 4’ is very hard to critique, especially because what happens throughout the story is actually based on true events. To call what goes on in ‘Samurai Warriors 4’ ‘boring’ or ‘stupid’ would essentially be calling history ‘boring’ or ‘stupid’. Sure, the game isn’t heavily based on exactly what happened, swords the size of men were not wielded during the Sengoku Period, but that’s the flair of a ‘Samurai Warriors’ game.
It WOULD be boring if it was just a history lesson! A lot of the story is played out in voice-acted pieces of dialogue but there actually aren’t that many cutscenes throughout the story. Most character interactions are shown as two models facing each other. When cutscenes come about, they’re short but they’re sweet. I found myself wanting more from the short cutscenes and the fact that they were so beautifully animated just worked to entice me more! Overall, the game is visually pleasing but there ARE times where the graphics seem, let’s say, ‘less than desired’.
The game has a huge cast of literally colourful characters. It’s always nice to see or unlock a new one because with them comes a new personality to add to the already extensive list of personalities and another voice actor to impress you. I find Japanese voice actors and actresses to perpetually be at the top of their game. I’m not sure whether it is that they’re just superstars in their chosen field or that bad acting doesn’t come across as clear when listening to foreign speech so I’ll just stand by my statement with a sense of blind faith.
The soundtrack consists of mostly traditional Japanese tracks populated by, well…traditional Japanese instruments. For someone like me that happens to love the culture, hearing these songs time and time again is just a continuous joy. I can see it getting annoying to some but the fact is that it fits the game like a glove. There’s nothing that can properly replace such a soundtrack. It’s interesting, I don’t often pick up on this while playing a game but environmentally ‘Samurai Warriors 4’ sounded fantastic. Just the sounds of the battlefield mixed with the soundtrack works to create such an atmosphere. It’s just something you can’t help but to experience in awe.
Here’s the thing about series’ like this; they can really only get better. Once again, some may disagree with me but when you think about it the ‘Warriors’ series of games are quite basic, it is when they’re built upon that they become something spectacular so it’s only natural that every new game is more feature-heavy than the last. ‘Samurai Warriors 4’ adds a new mode and some updated graphics but sticks to the things that have allowed people to enjoy the series for many, many years.
It’s also a game that is highly accessible; you don’t have to have played the previous titles, the learning curve is shallow, there are enough characters so you’re bound to make one your favorite. I could go on and on but I’ll spare you the rambling. ‘Samurai Warriors 4’ does what it needs to do to be able to make it a great addition to the already huge list of games in the series. Long-time fans, I find, will get great joy out of playing ‘Samurai Warriors 4’ and new-comers to the series will also find their place on the battlefield. Yeah, some things could be a little better, but in the grand scheme of things…those negatives don’t really matter so enjoy it where you can.
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