The Warriors series has never really been something that catches my imagination. Even between Dynasty and Samurai flavours the ability to run around slaying a ridiculous amount of enemies has never been enough to excite me. Don’t get me wrong, taking on wave after wave of nameless foes has it’s appeal but I always feel like Samurai (and Dynasty) Warriors chucks everything else out the window to make room. There’s only so much button mashing I can take and that’s one thing you can guarantee a Samurai Warrior title will have enough of.
In fact on my very first outing I was presented with a good few hundred enemies that made no attempt at all to fight me or even a vague sense that they would evade my attacks. Sure they ran towards me but all I had to do was press the same button over and over as I watched the combo numbers climb. On occasion I moved the thumbstick to orient my character but literally no extra effort is required. The very second I realised the tides of slightly animated scarecrows posed no threat at all I was bored. But I pushed through to get onto bigger and greater things.
But it just never happens. There really isn’t anything just around the corner. Missions play out as a series of you pressing the same button until you win. On occasion you might find the need to press a different button to do a special attack but more often than not I just used them to break the tedium. Bosses play out as little more than slightly challenging versions of their straw counterparts, especially early game.
There are combos and abilities that make it worth while levelling and thinking about a character to an extent but without more complicated gameplay the only reason to do so is from self motivation. There is definitely a place for it but I constantly had the thought in the back of my head that it was all pointless. Truth be told there is a combo system and character variations for those who look for them but for me the combat is too simplistic to warrant any real investment.
On the face of it there seems to be plenty of missions in Samurai Warriors too. There is a campaign for each of the 50 or so characters which is impressive and does provide loads to do. At least in terms of time spent on the game. The problem is that they’re all largely the same. A ridiculous pop-up will appear for each character and explain what’s happening while characters talk mindlessly during your combat. There’s nothing even close to depth in the story and each campaign soon follows the path of the combat and becomes mindless.
It’s fine to have this amount of content, in fact it’s commendable, but it’s not enough to stretch gameplay out just for the sake of it. If there’s little there to start with dragging out the same repetitive gameplay really isn’t likely to add much to a game. The main problem I had was that despite the amount of content I was bored well before the gameplay had run out.
Chronicles mode allows you to make you’re own character with a modest set of customization tools. There is a more persistent upgrading system in chronicles and on your travels you will have the opportunity to equip yourself with better equipment. However I still wasn’t thrilled by the missions. It’s certainly more engaging knowing that you have your own character but ultimately the gameplay still failed to engage me. Soon I was back to playing the same mission repeatedly.
The visuals are nothing special although there’s nothing particularly awful either. Characters are well detailed and look respectable even though they don’t hold up too well on closer inspection. For me Samurai Warriors’ biggest sin are the environments. There’s a decent amount of colour splashed about but the quality of the textures is low, although HD, and often areas aren’t interesting enough to capture the imagination. Samurai Warriors 4 certainly doesn’t look bad but it’s a long way from looking good.
Samurai Warriors 4 has this absolute reliance on quantity over quality. Rather than a complicated combat system that allows for some skill or character investment there are thousands of enemies. Which would be cool if there was actually something to do other than pressing the same button over and over again. Chronicles mode adds some customization and makes missions a little more interesting until you realise you’re again just pointlessly wading through enemy after enemy.
As an incremental update there isn’t much on offer that improves over other Warriors games. Even the visual updates aren’t really significant enough to convince veterans to return and the multi-format release has done nothing to help. There isn’t enough to get new players or people who didn’t like previous titles involved. Ultimately I found Samurai Warriors looked poor and was just plain boring. For me that’s the worst thing a game can be.