Samurai Warriors 3
Despite Samurai Warriors 3's simplicity, it is a hugely entertaining game
Pressing one button over and over and over again might sound dull, but it can be a compelling experience. It's all about the context in which those buttons are used. Look at the original Super Mario Brothers: you've got a direction pad, a jump button, and a run button. With just those three inputs, Miyamoto and Nintendo created a genuine work of art.
- Presentation is first class, combat is basic but exciting
- It's going to be a little too simple for some, not enough new stuff here for Dynasty Warrior or Samurai Warrior veterans
We're glad Nintendo took this game under its wing, because it's a good one. It represents another niche genre entering the Wii library with style.
Samurai Warriors 3 has an attack button, a stronger attack button, an even stronger attack button, and a jump button. I don't think anyone's going to claim that Samurai Warriors 3 will be remembered as one of the finest examples of interactive media 20 years down the track, but despite its simplicity, it is a hugely entertaining game with a hell of a lot of content.
The game's venerable Dynasty Warriors heritage will be immediately familiar to fans. Taking control of one of a massive line-up of heroes, you'll be wading through entire armies and racking up 500+ kill counts in 20 minute increments. Nominally, you’re fighting as one part of a larger army, but in reality you’re the one who’s going to do all the fighting.
What makes it a compelling experience is the visceral impact that the limited combos and special attacks have. There isn't a great deal of variety in what you'll be doing, but there is a genuine feeling of power that you'll experience as you charge towards an entire enemy unit, knowing that they’re about to be scattered like leaves in a hurricane.
It helps that the game is very pretty. Nintendo decided to step in and publish the game for English-speaking audiences, much like it did with Capcom's Monster Hunter Tri, and much like that dino-slaughtering epic, Samurai Warriors 3 pushes the Wii to the limit. Character models are reasonably detailed and smoothly animated, and there can be as many as 50 on the screen at once.
There's also a whole lot of data crunching going on in the background: units on the opposite side of the map to your character will clash with one another and the tides of battle will ebb and flow around you. It's an impressive effort on Koei's part to create a breathing battlefield on the Wii's limited capabilities.
It also helps that the game is rooted in Japanese history. Anyone who has done some study of Japan's past will recognise the names and the back stories of the characters. Participating as these historical figures in epic battles is like taking control of Hannibal on his campaign against the ancient Romans - and then decimating the entire population of Rome single-handedly.
On booting the game up for the first time, do make sure you switch the language option to Japanese to get a more authentic experience (and to get rid of the English voice actors, who are terrible). It's still subtitled, so you won't miss any of the political dramas going on in the background, and you'll be getting the most out of one of the game's finest features — the genuine history and culture that frames the violence.
Each of the game's 40-odd characters has their own story arc. Just playing through all of them will take you a long time, but beyond that there's a 'create a fighter' mode, some online options, and a whole bunch of weapons and armour to buy and upgrade. Much like Monster Hunter Tri, this game will eat into your time in a staggering way.
Though you'll have allies on the battlefields of Samurai Warriors 3, they're mostly brain dead and will need serious hand-holding. It's a little too easy to get the "game over" message because an ally that needs to survive gets himself slaughtered, but aside from keeping a close eye on where those critical allies are running around on the map, the amount of strategising (and thinking) you'll be asked to do is minimal.
This is the game’s biggest flaw. While Mario has been reinvented (or at least substantially added to) in each new game, the Dynasty/Samurai Warriors formula hasn’t really changed in its many years. For anyone who has played a few of these games in the past, there’s nothing really new in Samurai Warriors 3. For the newcomers to the series (a substantial portion of the Wii’s user base, I’ll wager), this game comes highly recommended. As a stress relief technique, slaughtering 25 digital humans per minute can’t be beat.
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