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Samurai Warriors 4-II

Score: 93%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: KOEI TECMO America Corp.
Developer: Omega Force
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 -2
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

About a year ago, I reviewed Samurai Warriors 4. Iím not sure why they havenít called this new release Samurai Warriors 5 as it is more or less a different game, but instead it is called Samurai Warriors 4-II. Whatever it is called, itís still the latest in the Samurai Warriors series.

Visually itís not much different from Samurai Warriors 4, which is a good thing. Your characters and scenes are simply beautiful. I seriously doubt that ancient Japan ever had this many brightly colored characters on the battlefields. Your characters are beautifully done and the colors are bright and crisp on all of your built-in characters. For your custom-created characters, there are a whole lot of options so you can pretty much design anybody that you want. The scenery is very well done too. Itís bright and easy to see where things are, so you donít run into mostly invisible boundaries. Overall, I am very pleased with the look of Samurai Warriors 4-II.

All of the voicework is in Japanese with English subtitles. As with the other games, it would be easier if things were in English as I feel I miss some of the things that are said during battle since I am too busy fighting, but as it is, I can deal with it. Also, if youíre playing two player, you will notice that the text has been moved so that it is split between the bottom of the top playerís screen and the top of the bottom playerís screen. This is a very nice change for that second player who was always complaining that he couldnít see to fight with the words on his screen and it still isnít in the way for the first player.


Gameplay:

Samurai Warriors 4-II has a few different options for you to play. As always, there is a Story Mode. Here you will choose a stage and then play through the levels of that stage. There are five stages unlocked to start. After you beat one, another will unlock. There are 12 stages total with a varying amount of levels in each stage. You can choose to play as one or two players locally or two players online. Once you choose a level, you then choose a main and backup character. You can switch between them during battle at will. If you are playing as two players, one of you will play one character and the other will play the other. You donít each get two characters to swap between. Objectives will pop up during the battles. I highly recommend you try to do them as it can make the battle swing to your favor or give you things. You donít have to complete them though. After battle, you will see what all you earned. You can get weapons, items and horses, and youíll also get Tomes, EXP, and gold during battle. Free Mode is just like Story Mode except that you simply choose a level you have unlocked during Story Mode and play. You will not unlock new things in Free Mode.

Samurai Warriors 4 had Chronicle Mode. That has been removed in Samurai Warriors 4-II and replaced with Survival Mode. In Survival Mode, you can choose from any of the characters that you have unlocked playing Story Mode. Youíve got two options of Survival Mode: first is Standard, where you just keep trying to get to the highest level possible. Each level you will have an objective. After you beat the objective, you can choose to exit the challenge and keep everything you have or go up to the next level and risk losing. If you lose, youíll lose everything you have earned, but the rewards get better the higher you go. Of course, the challenges get harder as well. You also need to keep an eye on your time and complete the challenges as quickly as possible. You start with 10 minutes. In each level, you will get two minutes added to the clock, but obviously if it took you more than two minutes to complete that level, then your time will be less than 10. Eventually you will run out of time if youíre not careful. You can unlock characters in Standard as well. Plus, you can get some really great items. Second, you have Survival Mode Challenge where you choose a challenge and try to get the highest score that you can. You can choose to upload your score to compete in online rankings. The rankings are reset each week. I really like both of the Survival modes, but I think I like Standard the best.

In the Dojo, you can make your own custom characters. I do love custom characters. You can have up to 20 at once and they can be used in Free and Survival Modes. You can also get to the tutorials and view unlocked events and more in the Dojo. Lastly, there are Downloads. This is where you go to get new content for the game. As of the time of this writing, there is no new content yet.


Difficulty:

In Free and Story Mode, you will be able to choose what difficulty level you want to start on. I highly recommend staying on Easy or Normal until your characters are at least a few levels higher or have a better weapon. I did manage to beat a Hard board with a level one character, but Nightmare killed me before I even got to an officer. If your secondary character dies, the battle is over, so you have to make sure to switch to them and get their health up if itís low. Itís all up to you as to how difficult you want your game to be.

There are things to watch out for unless youíre just a masochist. Morale will make your battle harder if you arenít careful. You can tell when youíre in a zone where the enemy has a higher morale as it will be pink or even red on the board. You can reduce their morale by killing Standard Bearers (denoted by a flag on the map) or enemy officers. Also, if you take over enemy barracks, itíll help your team out. If you find youíre having trouble with all of this, you can tell your second character what to do when youíre not playing as them. This can be really handy, especially when youíre trying to beat an objective and a bonus objective at the same time.

Skills will make your life a lot easier. You need to get Strategy Tomes to unlock skills. You start with tomes, but be warned that your tomes are a shared pool for all the characters, so if you decide to use them all on one character, theyíre gone. Of course, it is very easy to get more in battle so if you run out, donít worry! Each skill will take a certain number of tomes. Youíll see how many listed on the right of the screen next to that color tome. In ( ), youíll see how many tomes you have left total. You also have to meet the level requirement before you can unlock a skill. One thing to note Ė if you unlock all the skills surrounding one that is still locked, sometimes it will automatically unlock it for you (as long as you are a high enough level to get it) and you wonít have to spend tomes on it. If they are a battle skill, you can use them with the D-pad during battle.


Game Mechanics:

If youíve ever played any of the Warriors series, youíll already know the controls as they donít change that much from game to game. The controls here are the same as in Samurai Warriors 4. You can use different mechanics if you want. In the Dojo under Settings, you can change pretty much any button to be any other button. You can also invert your vertical and horizontal cameras plus turn vibration off or on and change the camera speed. Personally, I like to just leave things as the default. Under those settings, you can also upload your data and set it to upload automatically if you want.

Iíve wondered before how a game that covers the same period in history over and over can still come up with something new, but basically they cover the same history from different officerís points of view. Theyíve also changed out things like Chronicle Mode for Survival Mode, which I really like. Granted, I liked Chronicle Mode too, but itís nice to have a change of pace. I like seeing things from these characterís view as it is forcing me to play with some of the characters that I just didnít use as much in other games. Some I like and some I donít, but it is different. If youíre a fan of the series, or just like a good hack ní slash, check out Samurai Warriors 4-II today!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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