reviews\ Jul 12, 2004 at 8:00 pm

Way of the Samurai 2 - PS2 - Review

When I was a young kid, I remember reading a series books called: “Choose your Own Adventure.” The unique thing about these books is that after you read a few pages it would give you a choice. For instance, one of the books is about a skater, so one choice might be to do a trick off the half pipe or to walk away. Depending on which choice you made you would go to that corresponding page. So you could read the book through many different times, and have a new story line. The books was one way to keep children interested in reading, because they could read it though one time in less than thirty minutes. To me, the Way of the Samurai series is very similar to these books, because one simple decision will change the entire way the game’s story will be.

The story for this game is as follows: the collapse of the Tokugawa Shogunate has brought an end to the golden era of the Samurai. People no longer need or want to see a samurai walking down the street. Unlike other towns in the area, Amahara was given special permission to trade with foreigners, and the place is booming as a result. The town is split between the Aoto Gang and the local corrupt Magistrates. One day a lone Samurai comes into town, but what does he hope to accomplish there? Only you can answer that question, and everything you do will have an effect on this town.

While the plot for this game sounds really good, looks can be very deceiving. Seeing the EXACT same cut screen each time you start the game gets really old quickly. The game starts off with a girl feeding you a rice ball, then you choose if you want to talk to her or shoo her away, and then deal with some goons. This is nice the first few times, but it will get old really quickly.

Like I stated early every decision you make will affect the game, and there is more than 16 different endings that you can get. To get the “good” endings you have to go the boring route, such as teaching a mute girl to read and write. Since when do Samurai teach people how to read and write, much less read and write themselves?

The biggest problem I have with the game is how the plot is laid out. You will get the story information in random small cut screens all throughout the game, which seem to be haphazardly created. Even though I have beaten the game several times, the storyline is still not unified.

Another thing that kills this game is the way the story is told really kills any momentum you might have going. The cutscenes that tell the story really kill this game. At times the scenes you will have to read feels like it goes on forever. Since this is an action game, people will not want to waste, what feels like ten minutes, to find out you need to assassinate a crooked Magistrate.

One of the things that bothered me the most about this game is if you decided to be a “bad” guy. If you hurt or kill one civilian or do a treacherous act, you will not be able to get lodging at the local inn, buy supplies at the general store, or buy accessories for your character. Here is an example: I got into a sword fight with a local thug, than I accidentally hit a bystander while trying to prevent getting hacked into pieces. When I try go to into the local store, they will tell me to get out, and I am not allowed to do anything about it. This is a poor way to deal with people if they choose to walk on the wild side of life, if anything the prices should be raised more, or less since they player might want to just chop them up for trying to cheat him out of his money.

The controls for the game are very simplistic; gamers will have the option of using the digital or analog stick to move the character. The triangle button is used for strong attack, square for weak attack/pick up an item, X is used for jumping, and O is used to display a conversation window. The R1 button is for blocking, R1 plus square is for kicking, R2 for running, L1 for sheathing or drawing your sword.

Way of the Samurai 2 is rated Mature for blood, strong language, and violence. It requires 134kb space on your memory card for saves.

Gameplay: 6.0
The controls for this game are really easy to learn and pretty familiar. As you fight more, you will gain new moves you can use to defeat your enemies, and pick up their swords. The funny thing is that even though I have collected myriads of different weapons, I usually stuck with the default one, because it seemed to work the best.

Players will have to learn in this game that the only way to win any fight is to learn that defense is a very valuable tool. If you go swinging your sword without any strategy to defend yourself, you will die very quickly. The way to play this game is to figure out your opponent’s strategy, which is very easy to do since the AI is very dumb, and then take them down.

The thing that causes this section to lose major points is how the story telling is handled. You will take a beating every time you start a new game or when you just want to continue on with the plot. No one should be subjected to listening the same conversations over and over and over again. You can hit the X button to skip what one character is saying, but at times the conversation lasts a long time. This just kills the whole action theme this game markets under.

Graphics: 6.5
The graphics for this game are not that bad, but they aren’t that good either. The character models are accurately portrayed, and there are decent environments. The character animations are the best thing in the graphics department. Each sword handles differently, if the sword is light or heavy the character will portray that in the way he walks, his fighting stance, and the way the character fights. All in all the game looks very average.

Sound: 5.8
What happened to voice acting for the main character? It is very annoying to hear almost every single NPC talk but the main character. It is not like there is a ton of lines he needs to say, it is only a few, meaning all of the choices you make. I think this was a very poor decision to do this, either have everyone talk or no one, don’t go halfway.

While I am on the topic of voice acting, the voiceovers in this game are very poor quality. It is as if they picked up people off the street to provide the voices for them. The sound effects such as swords clashing against one another and swords going through enemies flesh are all realistic enough. Some of the musical scores can get annoying quick. In some parts of the game it is nice and tranquil, and other parts of the game players will find themselves reaching for the remote to mute the television!

Difficulty: Easy
The game is too simple. Even on the hardest difficulty mode, the game was never even the slightest bit challenging.

Concept: 5.0
The fact that any choice that the player makes affects the rest of the game is a really good idea, and boosts the replay factor, but it is severely hampered by the story itself. The game is just not enjoyable enough to play though it multiple times.

Multiplayer: N/A

Overall: 6.2
Way of the Samurai 2 suffers greatly due to poor plot execution. The pace at which this game plays out, and the tedious cut screens you have to endure really kill any momentum you might have going. If you want a good action game please look elsewhere.

Above Average

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