reviews\ Oct 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes review


Year after year, the Dynasty and Samurai Warriors franchises fail to innovate, making it the perfect time for Capcom to step in with Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes - a series first seen stateside as Devil Kings. Does Capcom push the series in the right direction, or is it another mindless button-masher with a different name?

There is enough egotistical drama in Sengoku Basara to fill a season of Jersey Shore. Whether it's rivalries, new alliances or grudges, the characters all tend to over-dramatize every situation. All you have to know is that each character wants to take over Japan, and while doing so, must conquer inner demons. It’s a weak attempt at a story, but at least the outlandish dialogue might make you crack a smile once in a while.

You choose one of 16 characters (many of which are unlockables) and battle your way through hordes of pitiful henchmen, with the primary goal to defeat the main general. 16 characters offers a variety of choices, including typical swordsmen, a gunfighter, and a man in mech-inspired armor, but it's doubtful that you'll be inclined to repeat the process enough times to see them all.

Each character is a stylized caricature of famous warriors from Japanese lore, so expect to see some wacky, and sometimes ridiculous designs. It's obvious that a lot of attention went into the smallest details of each combatant. It's too bad that the same can’t be said for the level design. Though a step up from the levels seen in the Warriors series, repetition still plagues the game and cause perpetual deja-vu.

While clearing the entire map of suicidal goons, you also have the option to take over areas by clearing command posts. These grant bonuses to your character's abilities, although they are never absolutely necessary. The game also has a crafting system, which allows you to craft trinkets to enhance your weapon's statistics, but unless you plan on making the top tier accessories, the boosts are marginal at best.

Four unlockable moves and three super arts vary the action, at least visually. It is fully possible to beat Sengoku Basara entirely with the standard attack. This is a shame, especially coming from Devil May Cry 4 Producer, Hiroyuki Kobayashi. Sengoku Basara is over-the-top in presentation, with wild triple-digit combos, but trudging through one legion after another without any required strategy can be downright monotonous.

Even on harder difficulties, basic enemies pose little threat. They stand around, waiting to be sliced and diced with visual flair, and seem to spawn out of thin air (big surprise). Only the main generals put up decent fights, making everything else feel like filler. Is it too much to ask to make these games more challenging?

I have been reasonably harsh on Sengoku Basara, but only because I am a longtime fan of the genre and was hoping for something greater than the same old gameplay with new characters. There is local co-op, but Sengoku Basara lacks the initiative to join the modern gaming scene with online multiplayer. Perhaps cramming dozens of enemies into a multiplayer session would have been a technical nightmare, but a one-on-one versus mode would have been appreciated.

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes doesn't stray far from the traditions of the genre, and is little more than the same old hack-and-slashing with new characters. Even so, I can't deny the short-lived joy of clearing out entire armies with a single character, juggling twenty men as my swords cut explosive streaks through the air, and watching the combo-counter rise with maniacal speed.

Above Average

About The Author
Mike Splechta GameZone's review copy hoarding D-bag extraordinaire! Follow me @MichaelSplechta
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