Warriors Orochi 3 review
I'm a big fan of the Warriors games. When asked whether I favor the Samurai or the Dynasty series, I always have a tough time because I honestly enjoy playing both. The Orochi games, however, bring these two universes together into an alternate reality with a demon king who threatens to destroy/takeover/enslave the world. Warriors Orochi 3 kicks it up a notch by including 120+ characters that not only span their Dynasty and Samurai games, but also Ninja Gaiden, Trinity Souls of Zill O'll, and Warriors: Legends of Troy. That's right, you can now take Ryu Hayabusa and Achilles into the fray and crush thousands of enemy soldiers. Though let me get a few obvious things out of the way first. Yes, it is still largely a button masher. Yes, the draw distance with enemies is still atrocious. No, the game doesn't evolve its gameplay much from past entries. With that said, it is very entertaining.
One of the best aspects of the Orochi games is that since the story doesn't rely on Romance of the Three Kingdoms, or the Warring States period in Japan, it means that people who constantly bash the games for having to replay the same storyline can finally give it a rest. Though don't expect this storyline to break any new grounds in terms of originality. The demon Orochi is back, or rather, his reincarnation as a multi-headed Hydra, and is once again threatening to destroy the very fabric of reality and kill off civilization. The warriors must travel through time and recruit more warriors in order to not only amass an army, but build a super weapon that can destroy the Hydra. It's silly fun, but the fact that the story can literally do whatever it wants at this point, it also makes it feel refreshingly new.
Since time travel is a huge factor, and guest characters from other Tecmo/Koei games make an appearance, some of the new levels are a breath of fresh air. The futuristic city where Ryu resides or the sandy beaches where Ayane can be found are so out of the norm for this series that seeing your Dynasty or Samurai warriors go through them feels almost surreal.
The game now uses a hub-world, much like Dynasty Warriors 7, where you can buy and upgrade weapons, host parties, go online, and advance to various missions. While in the hub-world, you have the option to talk to various characters that appear in between missions to acquire even more missions and strengthen your bonds.
These bonds actually play directly into the gameplay. Since you always take a three man team into the fray, those characters will gradually grow closer. The stronger the bonds are, the more likely that character is to jump in and help when you're getting your butt kicked. Another way of increasing bonds is by hosting parties, banquets, or moon viewings. Parties and Banquets raise everyone's bond level, in accordance to the character you currently have selected, and Moon Viewings will allow you to pick two characters and those bonds will get a much bigger boost.
The gameplay does remain largely the same. You can either take this as a positive if you love the series, or a negative if you loathe it. This means that you will still run around a huge battlefield, pressing a combination of your regular and heavy attack buttons, build up your Musou gauge, unleash your super attack, level up, and repeat. The biggest problem people seem to have is with the simplicity of the Warriors games, but luckily, Orochi 3's difficulty ramps up quite a bit at later levels and does require you to level up your characters and buy better weapons. Trust me when I say that there is a ton to do in this game. Each mission can also have sub-missions given to you by various characters that you can either choose to ignore or to accept. These sub-missions can ask you to defeat a certain number of enemies within a certain time limit, or kill a certain number of enemy officers while maintaining a certain percentage of health. These increase in difficulty to make sure to keep you on your toes in the later levels.
One of my biggest gripes with the previous Orochi game was how you specifically had to do certain missions in order to save some characters and add them to your roster. If you failed to do a certain set of assignments during a mission or didn't do something within a time limit, you would have to redo that level until you got it right. Orochi 3 kills off those characters initially, without you having any power to change that. You can then pick up an alternate level where you go back in time before that battle and help out that individual, which then enables them to survive if you then replay the level in which they previously died in. Sure, it means that you'll be doing some backtracking, but in turn, you get some awesome characters to join your army.
Speaking of characters, playing as Ryu Hayabusa, Ayane, or even Achilles is awesome. They seem extremely overpowered, but that is part of the fun! Though they aren't the only awesome characters. In truth, every character has the potential to kick a lot of ass; it's honestly the preference of the weapon that you like using, as well as how your characters look. I for one am a huge fan of staff based characters, mainly due to their reach, so I'm always partial to Zhou Yu or Zhao Yun, but I can't deny the appeal of playing as any of the guest characters, since they seem so out of place. The only warriors missing are from the Gundam series, but let's be honest, that would be weird...
The game once again lets you play the entire game with a buddy, either local or online, which is always good fun. The one problem that my co-op partner had (local) was whenever someone had something to say during a level, the subtitle would show up on the lower half of the screen, which would effectively cover up some of the action or their map.
One of the newest additions to the series is a map builder, which lets you create battlefields with certain rulesets, save them, play them, and even share them online. Depending on how popular this title gets, this could mean that you could potentially always have new maps to play. Again, it all depends on the popularity of the game to see whether this feature even gets some mileage out of it.
Also in true Warriors fashion, you have guitar riffs mixed in with techno beats to create fitting, upbeat songs to accompany your soldier massacre. This time around, the voice acting was kept strictly in its native language, and thank god for that! No more do we have to endure the painful American voice acting, and instead stick with the original Japanese voices. Sure, it means you have to do some reading while you're bashing your enemies' skulls in, but trust me, your ears will be much happier.
If you're a fan of the Warriors series and take it for what it is, you'll undoubtedly love Orochi 3. If you're one of those who can't get over the fact that the series doesn't really push the boundaries as far as graphical advancements go, you might as well skip this outright. Mindless action, mixed in with a crazy amount of characters, and some truly fun to play as guest characters, this is one Warriors game you shouldn't miss out on.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]