E3 2012: Way of the Samurai 4 preview
A lot of gamers (including myself) enjoy video games because of their over-the-top style and refusal to be realistic. Sure, we dig stuff that has a serious tone if it's carried out properly, but we also like crazy situations, ridiculous characters, and strange worlds. So you can imagine how ecstatic I was when I checked out Way of the Samurai 4 for PlayStation 3 while I was at the XSEED meeting room during E3. The game looks to offer some enjoyable action-adventure gameplay, but thanks to its over-the-top style, this won't be your typical Japanese epic.
What's so funny is that the plot in Way of the Samurai 4 has all the makings of a heavy, brooding tale. You play as a lone character in the port city of Amihama, where western culture is slowly becoming the norm. You can join the traditionalists who are trying to keep Japan as it once was; the pro-government faction who is pushing for changes; or the British Navy, whose goal is to secure a peace treaty in Amihama. Which faction you side with is ultimately up to you, and you can even make all three groups your pawns and manipulate them like little warring puppets.
Way of the Samurai 4 will allow for some major open-ended decisions, and it all begins in the game's open world. Civilians wander around town, and you can approach them as you see fit. Want to talk to them? Go for it! Perhaps you want to get to know some female characters? According to publisher XSEED, players will definitely get the chance to "hit on he ladies for some extracurricular activities." Of course, if you want to play by your rules and be a total jerk, you can do that, too. My demo guide beat up a bunch of people around town and let me know that you can kill random people if that's what you're into; just be prepared to get a lower character rating.
I was told that Way of the Samurai 4 can take players anywhere between two to five hours to finish. That said, a quick run will likely warrant a bad ending, so multiple play-throughs are encouraged, and there are plenty of side quests to keep you busy. Different elements from prior play-throughs carry over to subsequent runs. For example, if the player character learns English, that character won't have to deal with the tedious semantics of language acquisition the second time around. Something I thought was really cool was the fact that weapons also carry over, but instead of just starting out with some fierce equipment, your old weapons will be in the possession of different characters around town.
Way of the Samurai 4 will feature a very unique online component that allows players to upload their custom characters. By downloading another person's assassin, that character will be dropped in your world, and you'll have the opportunity to kill the bastard and take his items. I shudder to think what will happen to my character if I get defeated by a stronger foe.
The whole time I was watching Way of the Samurai 4, I was impressed by just how crazy it was. It reminded me of a samurai-style Saints Row, which only made me want to play the game even more. The series has gained a bit of a cult following here in North America, and the next entry in the series looks to provide an enticing experience for fans of the series and newcomers alike. Case in point: I've never played a game in this franchise, and Way of the Samurai 4 is something I need in my life now. Watch out for the game this summer when it lands exclusively on the PlayStation Network.
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