Press the “A” key on your keyboard. Go ahead. Now press it again. Keep hitting that key the whole time you’re reading this review. No fair just holding it down, you have to keep hitting it. Got it? Good. This, in a nutshell, is the exact experience of playing Samurai Warriors 2.
Don’t stop hitting that button because we’ve got a ways to go while I regale you with tales of the Samurai. The island of Japan is in conflict as different clans vie for control. Vast armies stand around motionless, ineffectually pointing at each other. And on these battlefields, you, the Samurai, reign supreme.
Initially you choose from seven different Samurai, but if you unlock them all, there are twenty-six in total. These warriors are a mix of both imaginary characters and real, historical figures like Musashi Miyamoto and Nobunaga Odo. Whoever you choose, you fight for your clan, and your story unfolds on a series of battlegrounds introduced by cutscenes unique to each character.
That’s good, because there’re certainly no stories on the battlefield, where you mow through hundreds of ineffectual enemies like a Samurai weed whacker taking on an overgrown lawn. Some of the characters may be real, but the devastating, over the top-moves are straight out of The Matrix
. The only enemies who fight back are the other Samurai, and if you lose, don’t worry about it. You keep all your experience and gold and come back stronger every time you retry.
Much, much stronger, because as you level up, your crazy matrix moves get crazier and more devastating. Gold is used to buy new skills, upgrade weapons, and get yourself a horse. After you’ve fought through a few battles you become almost invulnerable with just some very, very simple button mashing. You’re still pressing “A”, right?
That doesn’t mean you can’t lose though, because each map has an unclear “strategy” element. There are essentially points of control that you can capture, like gates and castles. Capturing them increases morale, and without morale, your allies may retreat leaving you in defeat, even though you could really just kill everyone yourself (This is essentially how the battles work anyway). Also a map may require you to keep key allies alive.
Unfortunately there’s actually very little strategy to this as most maps require you to capture points and save people in some mysterious order. So it’s not really about finding a strategy, it’s just trial and error finding the right path.
The graphics are fairly poor, with bland textures and colors, and some downright ugly sprites. The camera stays in pretty close to the action, and often points in unhelpful angles, but that doesn’t really matter because all you have to do is keep hammering on that button to win. The Xbox 360 version is a joke, looking barely better than the PS2.
The sound isn’t much better because it mostly consists of the endless dying wails of the hundreds and hundreds of soldiers you kill as they essentially just stand there not fighting you. Arrgh! Arrgh! Arrgh! Arrgh! Arrgh! Arrgh! Arrgh! That last one wasn’t the game, that was me.
While there are a lot of modes (Story, Survival, Free, etc.), they all play the same way, as you hammer on that button to kill thousands of pathetic, weak soldiers.
The Xbox 360 version also has online multiplayer that is about the worst I have ever seen. You and your opponent each fight on your own copies of the same map, not seeing each other, and the one who beats it fastest wins. It’s exactly the same as the single player experience, except now there’s an additional way to lose that you can’t even see.
The only other thing to do with Samurai Warriors 2 (other than use it as a coaster) is to play the included board game Sugoroku with up to four local players, and which is almost fun. It’s essentially Samurai Monopoly where you move around a board, buy properties and collect rent. There are also squares that produce random events or mini-games. Unfortunately, it’s really all about getting better die rolls than the other guy. Oh, and the thirty second music loop will want to make you kill yourself after about five minutes.
Some of you out there are still pounding away on your keyboards, and if you enjoy pressing a button
, I mean really
enjoy it, Samurai Warriors 2
is your game. With twenty-six unique charaters and as many stories to play through, this is the hands-down, be-all, end-all, motherload of button pushing. The rest of us, however, understand why George Jetson
hates his job. Ok, you can stop doing it now.