Despite the well-chronicled fact that GR loves the undead, there's one big problem with them: they won't stay dead, particularly the incredibly evil ones. Take, for example, Nobunaga from Capcom'sOnimusha series. He's a tyrant warlord who went from being regular dead to undead with the help of a little Genma blood. Now he's back to his old ways, unleashing zombie hordes, plotting the destruction of mankind and generally being a really bad example of the kind of zombie we respect.
So what do you do when a 16th century demon goes buck wild? You call in The Professional and turn the adventure into Onimusha 3: Demon Siege. Starring Samanosuke Akechi (from the original Onimusha Warlords) and Jacques Blanc (played by none other than the "Professional," Jean Reno), Demon Siege is the final chapter in the successful sword-slashing trilogy. It's got all the mystical weapons and demon busting of the past games with a time-traveling twist this time around just to make things a bit more delightfully confusing.
When last we saw Samanosuke, he had just defeated Fortinbras, the King of Demons. Now, he fights alongside his uncle to rid the land of the demon Nobunaga. But unbeknownst to all, Nobunaga's eccentric Genma (demon) scientist Guildenstern built a time travel device and sent demonic forces into the future. Where did they end up? Why, present day France of course! Freedom zombies! Eventually, Samanosuke is flung into the future, Jacques is tossed into the past and a Japanese Tinkerbell named Ako opens the lines of communication between them. I told you it was confusing.
The basics of Demon Siege aren't, though, as the game remains true to its predecessors with players using magically charged weapons to dispatch Nobunaga's legions, upgrading said weapons with absorbed souls and solving various puzzles along the way. But don't let outward appearances fool you; Demon Siege has plenty of new powers tucked away.
The first change Onimusha vets will notice is an improved control scheme. Rather than sticking to the classic Resident Evil D-pad control, Demon Siege includes a smooth stick option to go along with the D-pad control. This scheme makes it a lot easier to move around rather than first spinning in place to aim the right way. It's also handy for evasive maneuvers in combat.
Speaking of which, Demon Siege builds upon the original set of moves. You can still get through the game by sticking with basic attacks and the occasional special, but a host of other complex techniques can be learned along the way. As the power of your Oni gauntlet grows, you'll be able to charge up your weapon with more power for extra damage. "One hit kill" counterattacks are also available, including the ability to chain them together. The learning curve for these deadly techniques is pretty steep, but those who wish to master the samurai arts will appreciate the added depth.
In addition to upgrading your magical weapons and equipment, you'll also be on the hunt for hidden Eco Spirits, which will imbue various Haori (vests) for Ako with new powers to help you in battle. Obtain the proper Haori and Ako can heal characters, increase soul absorption and even suck the souls from living (or undead) enemies! Talk about putting Tinkerbell to shame.
The biggest gameplay change, however, is the time travel component that accompanies the story. Players will take control of Samanosuke in present day France and Jacques in 16th century Japan. Initially, the jumping back and forth between characters is disruptive; you'll start to get used Samanosuke's sword attacks or Jacques' whip skills only to be yanked over to the other character. But about half-way through the game, the time travel element starts to make sense. Jacques' actions in the past can affect what happens to Samanosuke in the future. For example, while playing as Samanosuke, you run across a locked door. Just send Ako back in time and take control of Jacques to open it. Pop back over to present day with Samanosuke and voila, access granted. It's a pretty interesting sort of puzzle to work through and really gives the game some positive energy.
Another small change is the use of 3D backgrounds. It's not as graphically impressive as the 2D environments that the other Onimusha games employed, but the 3D characters don't look so out of place anymore.
However, one problem that has plagued the Onimusha series since its inception is its often awkward fixed camera angles. Demon Siege doesn't do much to change this, meaning you'll still watch in frustration as offscreen enemies take pot shots at you. You'll be able to work around it, but it's still a noticeable irritant.
Equally disappointing is Capcom's audio dub decision. The first Onimusha had the original Japanese audio - which rocked - while the sequel took the less than impressive English dub route. Demon Siege does a little of both, which is more than a little confusing.
Being a French guy in a French land, it's pretty obvious that Jacques would speak French. Not so obvious is the fact that Samanosuke, being a Japanese guy in a Japanese land, only speaks English. Huh? That's right, the 16th century samurai speaks English while the 21st century Frenchman speaks French. Go figure. To solve this linguistic conundrum, Ako eventually uses Rosetta Stone powers to give everyone the ability to converse in English, but before then, it's almost a joke. Mercifully, the game's music and sound effects are fine.
After you've completed the game, there's still some fun to be had with the game's extras. A couple of mini-games are available, including an archery game and a mini adventure featuring one of the characters you'll meet along the way. Not a bad selection of end game rewards at all.
Onimusha 3: Demon Siege wraps up the trilogy in a nice, neat package. The classic action/adventure combat, now augmented with time travel and more ways to dish out punishment, will please fans hoping for a good ending. There are still some lingering issues, but this old warhorse remains in top form.