Samurai Warriors 3 (Wii) Review
Sometimes I really question what Nintendo was thinking when they decided to invest some good money in the distribution of Samurai Warriors 3. Sure, it’s a huge franchise in some regions of the world and it has a certain niche audience – but therein lies the problem. Samurai Warriors, and its parent series, Dynasty Warriors, is a game that fits in a genre that many people won’t like, no matter how hard they try. There’s too much repetition, and, quite frankly, if you’ve never liked the series, you probably won’t enjoy Samurai Warriors 3 either, despite the amount of content Omega Force has managed to pack onto the disc.
The general concept of the Samurai Warriors series is to guide players through historic battles that took place during feudal Japan, controlling several different characters that are all based on real life counterparts. As such, there isn’t really a huge over-arching story within the game, with each battle instead having a “history”. There is an additional mode known as “Murasame Castle” which follows a character’s discovery of a mysterious castle’s secrets, but outside of that and the character-specific story modes, there’s nothing really attention-grabbing in the fray.
Despite my already harrowing problems with Samurai Warriors 3, it has some rather nice artistic direction and some excellent presentation. The menus strike a great blend between an ancient Japanese style display while incorporating a modern element as well. Character designs are, quite unsurprisingly, Japanese in appearance and all have rather nice details drawn onto them, and each character has separate animations too. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a shame to see some pretty sub-standard environments consistently being recycled during some of the missions, as it really hammers home the fact that the game’s developers were going for more quantity than supposed quality. Still, overall, Samurai Warriors 3 is a pretty competent game in terms of graphical presentation.
The gameplay, however, is where the game really falls flat. Upon choosing one character out of a possible thirty-seven, players can embark on a specifically tailored story mode, or instead choose a random battle to re-enact and complete. If these characters don’t appeal, a rather comprehensive character customisation system should give options that will appeal to anyone. Upon choosing a character, Samurai Warriors 3 blatantly lies to the player. I say this because, well, it presents a “battle plan” that goes through what must be done in the mission, with enough detail to make players think this is a real-time strategy game. The harsh reality is that, there really is no depth to the gameplay at all – players just have to run to point A, destroy a certain structure and repeat the process until the enemy falls. Equipment and items can be customised, though these really make no major differences.
During these missions, the game throws hundreds of enemies at the player and players can choose whether to run past them or just mow them down with several button presses. Each of the thirty-seven characters has a unique special move and fighting style to go with their weapons, and despite this diversity in characters, the combat almost always boils down to mashing one button, moving to another group, and mashing the button again until everyone is dead. With in excess of 100 enemies in each level, all of which are strangely similar looking, the game can unfortunately get very boring fast. The game also supports multiple control methods, from the Wii Remote to the Classic Controller, even the Gamecube controller, but the Classic Controller Pro was the most comfortable option for us.
The game does offer other modes, but unfortunately these are all the same kind of gameplay peppered with different story modes. It’s a nice touch and I totally understand that it’s trying to break up the gameplay a little bit, but it’s still quite boring and repetitive. Finally, there is support for split-screen co-operative modes, both offline and online, which extend the playability of the game quite a bit. As previously said, though, the game can be rather repetitive and despite having so much content to find and unlock, it’ll be hard to find a player who would be willing to play through the whole thing without getting bored. An honourable mention is the game’s “Historical Mode” which takes players through some rather iconic battles of Japanese history, and surprisingly they’re rather accurate too.
Just like the game’s presentation, Samurai Warriors 3 features a rather well put together soundtrack that utilises both traditional Japanese-inspired music and successfully melds it with upbeat electronic music to create a rather exhilarating soundtrack to run into battle with. This comes with a bit of a downfall though, and that is the voice acting which can be quite atrocious. Despite having all playable characters voiced, the acting itself is rather subpar and cringeworthy, with some lines being repeated multiple times throughout a battle. It got to the point where I had to mute the television set just to prevent annoyance.
I like to think I’m usually lenient with most games, no matter what genre and no matter what risks they take. But looking at Samurai Warriors 3, it’s clear that there hasn’t been a lot changed since the series debuted almost six years ago. It’s a bit of a wonder how KOEI/Omega Force can continue pumping out these games that add minimal features to the package and still sell. Samurai Warriors 3 isn’t a bad game, heck, it’s got heaps to do, it’s just that you’ll have a hard time pulling yourself through it all.
Great character models, unique animations and interesting presentation. Let down by the repetitiveness of the environments.
Interesting concept thats been tried and tried again, though Samurai Warriors does nothing new to fix the flaws in the repetitive system.
Well put-together soundtrack, marred only by some horrendous voice acting.
Theres heaps to unlock in Samurai Warriors 3, and the multiplayer functionality extends the game even more. Its just a shame its so hard to muster the interest to unlock it all.
Despite heaps of content and an interest in the genre, I found Samurai Warriors 3 to be ultimately disappointing, bringing nothing new to the series despite its move to superior and more innovative hardware.