Act like a boy, fight like a god!
One Piece is one of those unusual types of animés that people either love or hate, but chances are the first thought in everyone's mind when they see it is “What the hell?” While I don't follow the series religiously, I'm familiar with the wacky characters and basic story. Monkey D. Luffy is the unusual protagonist with a good heart and big ambitions, but he's rather flawed. Add in the fact that he can stretch his head and limbs to surreal lengths in order to beat up legions of enemies (similar to Mr. Fantastic but much cooler), and the result is an oddball mashup of weird scenarios and intense combat.
Fans of the manga and/or the animé will be pleased to hear that One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is the best installment to date, and they'll also appreciate how this game contains all of Eiichiro Oda's artwork. However, newcomers to the series will be confused in short time because the story is extremely convoluted and jumps all over the place. In short, Luffy yearns to be the pirate king, so he visits ports all over the world to recruit warriors into his Straw Hat Crew. This is no easy task, and tens of thousands of enemies as well as dozens of mighty pirate captains stand in his way.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 blends the popular One Piece series with action-packed Dynasty Warriors-style gameplay. Normally, I can't play these types of button-mashing games for very long because they become monotonous, and each level can take 30-45 minutes to complete. Thankfully, this series adds plenty of variety to compensate for the repetition. For starters, there are dozens of characters to choose from, and each one has numerous combos and special abilities. Additional moves can be unlocked by leveling up each character and also by using coins earned through combat. I like how each character has a distinctive fighting style, but I don't appreciate being forced to level up each one on their own because the only way to do that is by replaying levels over and over.
Since every level has the same basic format, playing numerous levels in a row can get old really fast. After a longer than necessary intro, players are tasked with liberating and/or protecting villagers from literally thousands of enemies that all look exactly the same (with the exception of bosses and mini-bosses). Certain areas serve as enemy spawn points, and they must be taken over to stop the constant influx of new enemies. After players defeat enough enemies, take over enough spawn points, and perform a few lackluster tasks, the main boss appears and the battle actually becomes a bit difficult. One of the highlights of this game is the final cut-scene that depicts an over-the-top, epic finale move performed on the boss that sends him six feet under in a very impressive manner.
It's also rather empowering to perform special moves that take out dozens, if not hundreds, of enemies at a time. I love running around and performing basic attacks to lure enemies and then unleashing special moves that clear the area. New to this series are the mighty Kazuna Rush attacks that let players combine their might with up to five A.I. teammates for extra power. When the Kazuna Rush special move is unleashed, all teammates attack at once to destroy every enemy on the screen. It's not uncommon to defeat thousands of enemies by the end of each level. That's right, thousands!
In addition to the story mode, players can undertake additional modes like Dream Log and Free mode. The latter mode is my favorite because it lets me play every level with any character, be it good or bad. It's also possible to call in help from other players to inflict extra carnage in co-op play. Online co-op is only available in story mode, but local co-op can be played in any mode. It's really a blast to team up with someone and inflict double the damage to a seemingly endless horde of pirates. I'm also rather impressed by how beautiful the game looks, as well as how smoothly it plays, in both single-player and both types of co-op.
In summary, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is a great game for fans of the series, and there is a lot of content to keep them busy. On the other hand or… err… fist, newcomers may find it tough to play the game all the way through without becoming bored.