Samurai Shodown Sen - 360 - Review
Samurai Shodown: Sen is a disappointing entry for the long-running fighting series that first released in 1993. Hindered with excruciating long load times and a limited amount of detail for character models, it’s clear that not every fighter is able to make an easy transition to 3D. As the fourth installment, Samurai Shodown: Sen is an archaic look at the fighting genre.
There are moments of excitement to be had with Samurai Shodown: Sen, but they are few and far in-between. Cutting the hands or head off an opponent is peculiar at times – slicing an opponent in two at the waistline is even better. The maneuvers should have gamers that are into gore, smiling from ear to ear. On top of that, there are Desperation Slashes that can be executed to end a match – these attacks throw the game into a visual style that is akin to Sin City with its black and white approach.
The problem with Samurai Shodown: Sen is that it is a rollercoaster ride that is always running on slow. Between matches, players are forced to sit through close to 30 seconds of loading – an incredibly high amount as there are also load screens after a match, heading into the character selection, selecting a mode, and much more. In this day and age – a time when players no longer have the patience to wait for a game to load up – Samurai Shodown: Sen obviously is three steps behind the competition.
Originally released in 2008 in the Japanese arcades, Samurai Shodown: Sen is a fighter that has looks to predate even the last generation of consoles (Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2). The environments are void of any interactive objects, the background scenes are uninspiring, and the detail spent on the character models is minimal. The animations aren’t smooth to the point that stringing together attacks for a combo looks beautiful in motion. Outside of these flaws, the art style isn’t half-bad – majority of the characters are unique and stand out from one another.
Fighting through eight battles in the games Story Mode, it was apparent that there weren’t enough speedy-classed fighters provided. In total, there are 24 characters, each with their own specialty class assigned. My personal favorites included: Garros, a nimble Viking in the Power class; Galford, an agile “wannabee” ninja in the Tricky class; Nakoruro from the Speed class due to her hawk that allowed her to take flight and Ukyo, a prestigious Skill character that doesn’t need to waste any individual move. In total, there are five Speed characters, eight Power characters, five Skill characters, and six Tricky characters.
The single-player story mode is basic in storytelling. Three cut scenes presided within individual playthroughs; one introducing the main villain, Golba, a 46-year-old general who is out to become dictator and rule the world; another that showcased a personal story from the playable character’s background (Galford meets up with Draco, a gunman from the Wild West who apparently shot down his father), and the eventual meet-up with Golba to learn of his plot of global domination.
The actual combat isn’t terrible. Majority of the battles against human opponents were fairly even; the matches went back and forth matches testing each other’s understanding of the title. Against the computer AI, it was a much more difficult affair on the Normal setting than we ever expected – when ramped up to the Expert setting, it became plain to see that players can’t hop into Samurai Shodown: Sen and expect to clear the Story mode in record time.
What was terrible about the combat was the balancing issues with the strong slashes and unblockable attacks. Both maneuvers often eliminate half the health bar if they properly hit the opponent. So, in effect, matches could end after two attacks and then players are sent back to the 30 seconds of loading. Even though both attacks, especially the unblockable attack, take a long time to perform, they are too powerful and don’t encourage players to explore the intricacies of the combat.
After hours upon hours of competitive gameplay, Samurai Shodown: Sen didn’t serve enough entertainment value to satisfy my tastes. It’s a shame since the series has long been one of the more popular franchises among hardcore fighting fans.