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Arslan: The Warriors of Legend

Score: 87%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: KOEI TECMO America Corp.
Developer: Omega Force
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Over the years, there have been a few applications of the Warriors engine and design to other ideas, like Hyrule Warriors and Warriors: Legends of Troy. I havenít played Hyrule Warriors and I wasnít a huge fan of Warriors: Legends of Troy long-term, as the story was weak. Given that, I was a bit concerned about how much I would like Arslan: The Warriors of Legend, since I knew that it was based on an anime, but not one that I have seen. I am glad to say that this time, the match-up of anime and base game are perfect!

Since I have not seen the Arslan anime nor read The Heroic Legend of Arslan manga, I really had no clue what to expect from the story. I also wasnít sure what the characters were supposed to look like. After pulling up images online, I can tell you that the characters look more or less exactly the same as they do in the anime. Looking at images online, I canít easily tell you which screenshots are from the anime and which are from the game. Arslan: The Warriors of Legend is a cel-shaded game while you are playing, which does make the characters stand out a bit more than in the anime, but it works great. During the cut-scenes (which are very plentiful), you will feel as if youíre watching the anime. In reality, playing Arslan: The Warriors of Legend feels like you are watching an anime where you are in control of the battle scenes.

I do wish that Arslan: The Warriors of Legend had an option for English. Even though I watch anime in Japanese, it makes it very difficult to read what is going on while trying to fight. I feel like I missed a lot of the story that happened while I was battling, as I usually just looked for the blinking green on the map to show me where to go rather than trying to read what they were telling me to do. It was just too difficult to read while trying to defeat officers, especially on harder difficulties. Otherwise, I love the sound effects and the music in the game. The voicework is well done (at least it sounds melodic), not that I can understand the words.


Gameplay:

While the main focus of Arslan: The Warriors of Legend is going to be Story Mode, there are a few other options. When in Story Mode, you will not get to choose who you play as (unless you are the second player). At first, I was hesitant about continually switching characters in Story Mode. It made it a bit strange to get used to each of the characters that way, but after you are used to the characters, it works out rather well. The game will automatically switch you between characters so that you are using the person that is in the area where you need to do something. If you are the second player, you just choose who you want to play as and that never changes. If you choose someone who is supposed to be in that scenario as well, they will still be there, so there will be two of the same characters on the field. That can be a bit confusing when youíre looking for one of them and you find the other.

Arslan: The Warriors of Legend has an extremely good storyline. It is full of intrigue, politics, backstabbing, and all sorts of other dramatic elements. You start out the game as 14-year-old Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Pars, Arslan, leading your first army into battle to save your kingdom. It is the fall of the year 320. Of course, things arenít going to go as planned, but luckily you have a very loyal retainer, Daryun. After all the turmoil at the end of the battle, Arslan is going to have a total change in his way of life. Along with Daryun, he will have to recruit people to stand with him to try and take back his kingdom. Of course, there will be a lot of trouble along the way. Unfortunately, this game does not get you all the way back to becoming the ruler. I can only hope that they will make a sequel that picks up where this story ends. As it is, itís an okay length game and it feels like they left it at a decent pausing point (provided they make the next one!).

When you get tired of Story Mode and just want to play as whoever you want, you can choose Free Mode or Online Mode from the Main Menu. Free Mode lets you choose a character and replay any scenario you have already beaten. You will not switch characters during Free Mode battles. In Online Mode, you can choose to play either Free Mode or Story Mode with someone online. You can look for a specific friend or you can find a random partner. So far, I havenít found anyone online to play with, but I just checked at random times. I also left a game open for about 15 minutes, but no one joined. Personally, I prefer playing local multiplayer anyway!

There is also a Gallery and an Encyclopedia from the Main Menu. In the Gallery, you will find all sorts of things about your characters, skill cards (there are 309 total), your battle results, and more. You can even re-watch those movies and events. The Encyclopedia has the "factual" history of all the battlefields and characters, as well as a timeline to show you when events happened in relation to each other and a list of the terminology, just in case you forget what gholam or marzban or any of the other terms they use mean.


Difficulty:

Arslan: The Warriors of Legend provides four levels of difficulty: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Extreme. It defaults to Easy for your first game. Once you start Story Mode at that difficulty level, you cannot change it unless you choose to start a new game. You can choose any of the previously cleared scenarios at any difficulty level though. In Free Mode, you can change the difficulty before the start of the battle in Game Settings.

Objectives will pop up while you are in battle and you will need to clear those to get to the next stage. You get a rank at the end of each objective, which is based on various criteria. Usually, it is the time you took and your number of kills, but often there will be something else that you will need to do. You can earn Skill Cards for doing well. You will also get Skill Cards when you defeat certain officers. Just make sure to pick them up off the battlefield. These cards are items that you can equip and you can choose up to three cards to equip at once. You can also synthesize cards to make new ones. Synthesize will take 5-10 skill cards and combine them into one random card and you can choose to pay more and hope to get a better card. Each week (in real life time) there are different "campaigns" that will benefit you in your game, like reduced cost to synthesize cards. Make sure to look at each card well. Cards with the same name donít always provide the exact same boosts. Cards also have a cost associated with equipping them, so if you want to equip that rank S card, be prepared to have to use much less expensive cards with it. As you level up, the points you have to spend on cards increases.

Your characters will obtain more weapons as they play more. Your special move will always be done with your first weapon, as it is the characterís preferred weapon. Personally, I found that I just kept using the same weapons that the characters started with and leveling up the weapons rather than using a new weapon.


Game Mechanics:

If youíve played any of the Warriors games, youíll already be quite familiar with the controls for Arslan: The Warriors of Legend. (L) moves, (O) jumps while moving on a horse, (X) jumps when on foot and (X) also lets you get on and off of a horse. (L2) will call a horse. Press (Square) to attack and (Triangle) to do a mounted attack (while on a horse). While on foot, (Triangle) is a power attack. (R1) after (Triangle) will start a chain strike. (O) does a special move while on foot, but you have to have the gauge full to perform the move (just like a musou attack in other Warriors games). (R1) can also be used to do a Unique Skill. It uses a portion of that special gauge. (L1) blocks and re-centers your camera. You can evade an attack by holding (L1) and moving with (L). Left and right on the D-pad will switch weapons and youíll need to switch to use what best fits for fighting your enemy. (Options) pauses and brings up your battle info.

Youíre probably already familiar with these controls, but something new is a Rush Zone. Rush Zones look a bit like a blue tornado. You can do a Mardan Rush there with (R2). Mardan Rush basically makes all your troops into a giant attack unit that does a LOT of damage. Sometimes itís a mounted attack and sometimes it is ground troops. You can also do other things like fire attacks from Rush Zones. Theyíre quite handy.

I did find the camera would do funny things at some points, like when you were right next to a wall. Most of the time it wasnít a problem, but every now and then, it frustrated me. As I said before, playing this game is like half watching an anime and half gaming. The only problem I found is that during the long cut-scenes, I liked to put my controller down. Unfortunately, you do not have to press a button to start the action back up after a scene. It would really have been nice if that one thing was added, just so I had time to pick up my controller before someone hit me. This was also a minor annoyance.

Overall, I quite enjoy Arslan: The Warriors of Legend. Will I keep coming back to it like some of the other Warriors games? Iím not sure. With one play-through on Easy, I have 41% of the trophies. Iíve got all of the characters and scenarios unlocked, so Iím not sure how much I will keep going back to it. Only time will tell if I get bored of it, but so far itís been a great game to play. If you donít mind watching a whole lot of cut-scenes (which are really awesome, I promise), definitely check out Arslan: The Warriors of Legend.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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