GAMEPLAYI have been playing the various Warriors titles from Koei ever since the release of Dynasty Warriors 3 for the PlayStation 2. I found myself extremely disappointed when Samurai Warriors made the transition to the Wii; the controls were clunky on a Wii remote, even when I swapped it out for one of the various alternatives, such as the Gamecube controller. The buttons were just too ass backward in several areas; I just couldn't get used to it. To sum it up: it was a mess!
With Samurai Warriors 4, they have hit the nail on the head. One of the biggest criticisms of the prequels was that they were more of the same. To some extent, the same can be said about the newest title. The raw combat mechanics are pretty much the same; you juggle light attacks with strong ones to create some fast and crazy combos. However, several added features to this game have not only created a more difficult and fun experience but also given Samurai Warriors 4 its own identity and feel.
First, the new hyper attack system has changed my gaming experience (for the better). In the past, hitting the triangle button would create a standard charge attack that didn't do much but stun the opposition. Now it's become a way of destroying large groups of enemies. By hitting triangle, you glide foreward and crush huge groups of enemies, string together various other combos after, and can easily charge up your special attack. The only catch is that enemy officers are pretty much unaffected by this new assault.
As for special attacks, better known as "Musou," they've been upgraded from just holding circle down until your bar is depleted, to a fun one-button press spectacle that has your character strike an epic pose before crushing your enemy. If you've played Dynasty Warriors 7 or 8, it's pretty much the same thing that's been done there.
All in all, everything is much smoother and in many cases provides you with much more of a challenge than the previous titles. Throw in the ability to change to another character in real time, and the chaos that ensues is just amazing. Plus it's so convenient to switch to a character who is nearer the target you're after.
As for the game modes, they are split in two:
Story Mode, in which you follow the story of bulky roster of Samurai and Ninas and watch history unfold, and
Chronicle Mode, where you create your own character and travel across Japan, meeting, greeting, battling, and more with the warriors you from Story Mode. Chronicle Mode seems more of a fun passtime than it does the meat of the game, but the character creation is definitely most welcome and quite in-depth compared with previous attempts. Samurai Warriors has never failed to deliver with Story Mode, and it continues that trend here. Its over-the-top spin on things never ceases to keep me interested and researching the history of the Sengoku period of Japan.
Samurai Warriors 4 is by far the best looking game in any of the Warriors series, which is quite the upgrade considering Samurai Warriors 3 was the most ugly, by far. Although the art style is a little more "cartoony" than, say, Dynasty Warriors, it fits with the Japanese culture, creating something that's pleasing to the eyes.
The opening to the game shows clips of various storylines that you will play in Story Mode and highlights the poster boy of series, Yukimura Sanada, and his brother, Nobuyuki Sanada. Now, while the video package was well put together and had me excited for the game, I couldn't help but notice from the get-go that all of the voice actors were Japanese.
Many people in the past have played with the Japanese voice actors because in previous titles the English ones have not been up to the expected standard. I can appreciate that, but during actual game play there is too much going on at once. I don't have time to read, plus hack and slash at the same time. Thus I'm constantly missing what the characters are saying. I'm not sure if Koei was hesitant to put more money into the game due to the last title, but this has hurt my overall experience more than I thought it would.
Putting the voice acting aside, the game sounds great, the music is well produced and fits the mood of the battle, whether it's Tadakatsu Honda charging the battle field or an action-packed chase to a retreat point, Samurai Warriors 4 gets it right every time.
If you have not liked the Dynasty Warriors or the Samurai Warriors series in the past, then this game just isn't for you. It's not going to have changed enough to make you think otherwise. In the end, that's the biggest problem in any Warriors title; it's evolved, but not enough to make a huge difference to the casual audience.
If you have been a fan of the previous titles, or are new to this genre and want to give it a try, then Samurai Warriors 4 is definitely for you. It's the most complete, polished, and fun game in any of the Warriors series. As a Warriors fan who has been jerked around by Koei a few too many times, my final verdict is…
RATING: 7/10 — I'd love to give it an 8, but without an option to have English voice acting, I'm definitely not getting the full experience that I think anyone who purchased the piece of trash known as Samurai Warriors 3 deserves.Are you going to purchase Samurai Warriors 4? If you have already, do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments below!