“I left it all out there, in that place!”
This is the third game in the series inspired by and using loosely the same system as Dynasty Warriors but in the One Piece world. Is the third game a welcome addition? Yes. Is it an improvement over the second? Yes. Did I have an insane amount of fun playing it? I guess you are going to find out but *spoiler alert* Oh hell yes I did!
The previous games were good but Pirate Warriors 3 has a certain shine to it that makes it feel better. I don’t know if this was due to the graphical capabilities of the PS4 that gave it a really nice and polished look. The fact that the sights and sounds were so beautifully recreated from the show so that it felt authentic definitely helped and it had enough of the second game in it to make it feel familiar but so much change that they couldn’t be looked at as the exact same game. First off, the story mode, called the Legend Log, is back told in beautiful sequences lifted right from the manga and anime (although some scenes have been altered slightly.) remade with the power of the console that, at times, look better than the originals. The moment, for example, where you defeat the major bad guy (I know some people still have not watched or read One Piece) in the titular battle of the CP9 Saga, you are treated to a redone and beautiful cut scene that manages to capture the emotion and feeling of the end of the battle. Popping up throughout are little gems and nods to the original story. Every now and then, you hear a character shouting something at you that they did in the manga, and it is glorious.
I would say that as a fan, I was very pleased with the faithfulness and I can see that while a lot was cut out (With an anime and manga sporting over 600 episodes and 700 chapters, you have to cut out some things) it did retain much of the heart of the story and in a way, I could see someone who has not seen or read One Piece could theoretically understand most, if not all of the plot points so far. It paints a very good picture, and does so in a compelling fashion with fully animated sequences and others with 2D renderings that are almost like living manga panels along with your standard 2D characters with text. As the story was more or less the same as the original, I have no issues with it. It was, at times, a bit brief but the story mode took me a good twenty five hours to complete and that was not veering off the course and only replaying one or two missions so it was very robust and at times challenging, especially with all the little treasures hidden around for you to complete. There is a Free Log that allows you to use any character in the Legend Log scenarios if you fancy having your favourite character run about your most loved battle for the laugh of it.
There is another mode to play in called Dream Log, this is where some of the most powerful opponents and the most difficult battles can take place. You move through islands, where each island is a battle scenario with different scenes and random events usually culminating in you having to defeat a single commander. Sometimes it unlocks a character, these are the islands with people standing on them, sometimes it is a bounty, they have a sheet of paper above their heads and they run about, and sometimes it is gold and coins needed to level up your characters. It was a welcome diversion and I found myself spending hours attempting to get an S-rank on every island and also trying to get every character. In total there are thirty-seven available characters and a further twenty-seven that are available as support only. The only shame about this system is the fact that you can’t choose your support characters and you can switch your character in game—as you could in Pirate Warriors 2, but this is obviously a style change to allow the inclusion of more support characters and then to make up for them not being playable. It is still a large game and many characters have alternate/future versions of themselves that play with a similar style but have different attacks and abilities. It is very customisable with additional skills available for use on all characters (some are character specific though.) All in all, there is a great amount of flavour to suit all tastes if it is your cup of tea.
I haven’t gone into the gameplay so much as most people have played a Dynasty or Samurai Warriors style game at one point or another. It is very familiar with hordes of simple soldiers for you to knock about with more powerful generals and commanders that will give you a hard time. You have the ability to use powerful “Musou” attacks given the right energy and a new “Kizuna” gauge allows you to summon your support allies in various combos and an ultimate attack for major damage and coverage. The attacks flow well and it is very fast paced. I don’t think I noted a moment of slow down at any point in the game which can be interesting as there can be more than two hundred enemies on screen at a time. It was a thrilling feeling and very intense, more intense than the previous instalment and the implementation of the various One Piece elements into the combat was well done although I wish there was more use of specific elements, such as Haki. Sometimes the Kizuna Gauge can build up slowly which means that you won’t get to use your favourite abilities but that is a very situational comment as at other times, it can fill up almost immediately.