“I will claim these warring states as my own!”
Samurai Warriors started off as a spin-off to the hugely successful Dynasty Warriors series when it began to pick up steam, releasing the story of the Edo Period’s most tumultuous time. There have been many iterations of the game, much like those of its parent game and this latest game wants to lay claim to being the best of them all. Does it succeed mightily, conquering all, or will it be left on the battlefield, without life or hope?
The story remains much the same as the previous entries into the Sengoku Era, although this game focuses on other characters, telling the events of the main narrative (As history with a slight bit of fantasy tells it, as it can be assumed that many of the characters were not one man armies) with a different light. We are thrust into several mini stories that introduce us to characters new and old, there are a few new characters in the game that will offer a breath of fresh as well as new scenarios that will have you scratching your head wondering if it really happened that way. The Warriors franchises have a very good grasp of storytelling and the slight ministrations to the original source material can lead to some very interesting plot points and surprises. What if the famous betrayal of Nobunaga wasn’t as it seemed? What if some characters, long thought dead, actually survived their seemingly inevitable fate? While many of the stories would be known by ardent fans of this version of the franchise, it is still interesting to discover many of the directions history could have taken. The only issue, and it is a slight one, is that you can’t really change the source material (Unless entering a spinoff world such as Orochi Warriors.) so some things will always be predictable and with the eventual release of Samurai Warriors 5 and such, there is always an overlap. At times, even though the game’s hack and slash is the main draw of the game, the story treads upon ground already known and that can lead to a bit of boredom, especially when playing certain mission again in a different scenario but the outcome is more or less the same.
The system has improved, where the combat remains mostly the same. In Samurai Warriors, you have control of your storied general who is a walking demi-god, able to fell thousands of lesser warriors with a slash/thrust/kaboom of his applicable weapon. Having the masses fall before you as you move from objective, which can be anything from kill this warrior, capture this point or ensure this character gets to this place etc., to objective is incredible and with a slight graphics update it seems all the more real and enjoyable. The characters handle well and with the ability to switch characters across great distances (Anywhere on the map where your other characters are in fact.) adds a great tactical advantage although if one of your chosen characters dies it is game over. The game has a revamped levelling and upgrade system, allowing you a greater hand in customising your character to your liking and as you unlock more and more characters, you can eventually plow through the armies that irk you as your favourite character. There are many modes aside from the regular story mode; free mode in which you can replay a completed story scenario with another character of your choosing; Endless Castle, where you challenge enemies in a giant castle with no end in an effort to reach the highest level, provides boundless entertainment as well and lastly, the new upgrade system feels like a mode in itself, sure to drive completionists insane. The gameplay is solid and it doesn’t always feel recycled, which is great considering that in a year, you are like to see at least two Warriors games.
Samurai Warriors is a great game, whether it is your first or simply the latest Warriors game you have played. While I enjoyed it immensely, there was something holding me back from loving it. Perhaps it was the short time between playing Samurai Warriors and Pirate Warriors 3, it felt as if the game were missing something. While it plays on historical events and Pirate Warriors was pure fantasy, it was not the story alone that set the games apart. Somehow the combat in PW3 was more varied, a little crisper and, despite being released before, the visuals seemed to mesh better with the fantastical world of One Piece than with the historical drama of the Edo period. While I don’t think that Samurai Warriors 4-2 (I did despise the name.) is in any way a failure, it did feel like the slightest hair backwards from Pirate Warriors 3. Even though Samurai Warriors 4-2 is the best Samurai Warriors game, it cannot lay claim to the best game in the Warriors franchise, which is what all games should aim for.
All in all, the game delivers an intense gaming experience and fun for the many hours it takes to beat all of the story quests and take on the Endless Castle for a respectable amount of time. It can get repetitive but the gameplay is always solid and asking for your full attention, especially on harder difficulties where the challenges are steep and unforgiving. Whether you pick it as your first entry into the series, a refresher into a franchise you’ve lost touch with or whether you are a collector of the games, Samurai Warriors 4-2 is a great selection, and even though it’s not perfect, that’s sure to have you picking up the next one along to see how they make it better.