Samurai Warriors 2 - PS2 - Preview 2

Not getting enough Dynasty Warriors these days? Need more hack-n-slash gameplay to reduce your heightened blood pressure that's been caused by a lack of hack-n-slashing? (Hey, it happens to the best of us.) KOEI has just the thing, and they've advised us to take "2" and call them in the morning – Samurai Warriors 2.

Set in the middle of a large, enemy-stuffed battlefield, Samurai Warriors 2 is the sequel to the best-selling Dynasty Warriors offshoot. The new edition looks like it's going to be more of an upgrade than a full sequel, featuring similar characters, environments, and gameplay mechanics. Visually the game needs some work, but is already resembling the DW series. The charge meter and charge attacks are back. Combos are still based on arcade-style actions, where you tap one or two buttons repeatedly until the move has been finished. Special moves let you take out multiple enemies simultaneously. And as always, hundreds more will be waiting for you the minute you’re done.

Those who are new to the series but have played Dynasty Warriors (who hasn't?) already know what to expect. The gameplay is straight action with lots of characters getting tossed around the screen, followed by inevitable enemy annihilation. Jumping lets you strike from above, but the consequence of doing so means having a slow start when you land. Lifting enemies into the air, however, can be much more effective.

 

One area where Samurai Warriors 2 differs from its inspirer is the types of characters and the weapons at their disposal. An attractive female warrior (er...samurai) holds what she calls a ball and cup. It looks silly and harmless, but in action becomes a deadly tool of destruction. She swings the cup around, tossing the ball (which is attached to the cup by string) in ways far more impressive than the kid down the street that can flip his yo-yo.

A much more gruesome fighter uses his fists, not a weapon, to get the job done. He appears to have a gauntlet or some other damage-increasing item attached to his fists, maximizing the amount of blood spilled when he and his opponents make contact. His artwork is a bit different from the usual Dynasty / Samurai Warriors style, looking like a cross between Quan-Chi from Mortal Kombat and the creepy contortionist from Soul Calibur. Or – dare I say it – a tad like the star of God of War.

Other playable warriors wield swords, spears, axes, and a giant poking device that I've yet to define. Regardless of your preference, the game has something for every fighting fan.

KOEI is known for stocking their games with extra game modes, most of which relate directly to the base gameplay. Free Mode, as you know, is their version of an exhibition game in popular sports titles. Pick your warrior(s), battle environment, weapons, and alter other key features. Samurai Warriors 2 goes one step further by providing players with a board game.

 

"A what!?"

A board game.

"Oh no, get me out of here!"

Wait, don't leave! I knew you'd be scared off but had no idea you could run that fast. Say, have you ever thought about entering the Olympics?

"You're changing the subject to make me forget why I want to leave."

No, I'd never do that. But anyway, this board game I speak of is not some cheap, Mario Party affair where button-mashing gets you gold and skillful playing gets you nowhere. This mini-game is more like an expanded version of Monopoly. Up to four warriors may participate. Each has their own home base – a place where you can land and be safe. There are also spaces where you'll land, get to roll the dice a second time, and gain or lose something important. If you're lucky you'll get the option that lets you move to any space on the board. That's where the main goal kicks in: purchasing land.

All but the home and special spaces are available for purchase. Each player is given a different color. The more you spread that color (by acquiring land space), the more gold you’ll earn. Opponents who land on your color have to pay up according to the value of the land (a la Monopoly). There’s just one problem: they don’t have to pay if they don’t want to! The catch for them is that they must then challenge you to a mini-game (a mini-game within a mini-game, you could say). These games are presented at random when a challenge occurs, and the same two kept appearing in this build.

The first dared you to collect gold bars as fast as they appeared, which hopefully would turn out to be faster than your opponent. The second was a bit more difficult, having players hunt and kill fleeing enemies. In both cases, the player with the most gold (or carcasses) wins. If the defendant succeeds, the land stays your color and you get paid. Should the defendant lose, then the challenger gets your spot. It’s not fair, but that’s life as a warrior.

 

Shipping later this year, Samurai Warriors 2 has all the Dynasty Warriors antics plus a new board game to keep you hacking and slashing for as long as your thumbs can take it. Stay tuned to GameZone as we bring you the latest details leading up to its release.

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