Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Developer: Omega Force
Genre: Action
Players: 1-2 (online and off-line co-op)
Platform: Xbox 360 and Play Station 3 (PS3)
Platform Reviewed: PS3

When it comes to Warriors games Omega Force and Tecmo Koei have always had a somewhat polarized audience. On the one side the fans seem to lap every instalment of the massive franchises (Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors and Orochi Warriors) while others seem to diss every instalment as an allegedly easy and mindless button mashing repetitive game. Although I do make an effort to call a spade by its name, I do concede that I subscribe to the former set and that I have been waiting for the possibility of a release of this game ever since I bought my PS3. But with such high expectations there”s always a chance of a big disappointment. Luckily this was far from the case.

Like its predecessors Warriors Orochi 3 (WO3) brings all the playable characters that ever appeared in a Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors game, plus more created specifically for WO titles. In this game the developers went one step further and included characters from other Tecmo Koei games such as but not exclusively Ryu Hayabusa (Ninja Gaiden), Ayane (Dead or Alive) and Achilles (Warriors: Legends of Troy). Consequently, with over 120 playable characters sporting a different move-set, WO3 is simply the biggest warriors game yet!

The game starts with 3 characters, who when facing off the Hydra are saved from certain death by a Mystic called Kagura, who has the ability to go back in time. The story is based on Kagura sending the three officers back in time to save other officers and build an army strong enough to face the Hydra. Although the premise is simple, the story is still intriguing. Here Omega Force builds further on the good story telling developed for Dynasty Warriors 7. Each stage unlocks a number of playable characters and though in some stages certain officers die, the player still gets a chance to save them later.

Similar to other warrior games, this one is simple to get into but this should not be misunderstood as easy. In fact it is my impression that on normal mode WO3 is generally a tad harder than other warrior games. But for a real challenge there is hard mode and chaos mode, and the later levels can be a nightmare to complete on the hardest of settings.

With over 30 stages in story mode and with each playable character handling differently there is plenty to do in this game. Some of the stages in this game also offer variety in terms of colour and design. In each round the player can select up to three characters and switch between them at any given time. One of the joys of the game is that not all characters are equal in strength. Some also get much better once they level up, and with a variety of equip-able items and skills for the weapons there is a multitude of variety and fun in trying different combinations. After each level, players get attribute points which help level characters faster. Furthermore, each level renders new weapons with each weapon belonging to a rank system of stars plus special weapons. Some weapons also come with effects and different sets of skills, which can be forged into one mighty weapon. Besides, by using a weapon characters build compatibility and proficiency for that weapon adding to its basic strength.

Besides the customary Mosou (special) attack, there is also the triple Mosou attack where all three warriors take the battlefield for a couple of seconds to reign havoc. This lands gems which can be used to increase bonding between different characters. Character bonding is one aspect of the game which ensures longevity, and it can also be increased by doing specific tasks given by different characters before each level.

Doing certain things on certain stages on hard mode also unlocks certain items, which can prove invaluable when tackling the game on the hardest of settings. Whilst playing on-line co-op will net better drops. As now customary with warriors games, WO3 supports both offline and on line co-op modes. Warriors games are somewhat renowned for their music, and WO3 offers some of the best tunes to feature in previous games.

The game does have some minor issues but none which really affect its actual enjoyment. The free mode does nothing that the story mode doesn”t do, so it”s practically useless, and perhaps the inclusion of other mini modes found in Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors would have been better than fee mode. Mosou Battlefield is certainly a step in the right direction, but one whose benefits are likely to be enjoyed in future warrior games. What one gets here is a very limited way to customize existing battlefields which can be shared and reviewed by other online players. The premise is great but the actual limitations in editing almost render the idea pointless. However, Omega Force often listens to fans so there”s a lot of hope for future games here.

Also joining an online game is a bit of gamble here, because there is no way of knowing beforehand the level and difficulty setting the host has chosen, so you can join a game in which you”re either too weak or too strong to get any enjoyment in. A bit of tweaking could have easily addressed this.

The lack of English voice acting is probably welcomed by some and hated by others. Although I personally prefer English voice acting for the simple reason that all my previous warriors games had English voice acting, I found that this did not really hamper my enjoyment. To be fair, it is occasionally annoying not knowing that your leader in the level is in trouble because you missed the sub-titles but as I said it is not really a major issue.

Other minor squabbles are that in offline co-op, the sub-titles always appear in player 2″s part of the screen and do somewhat lessen the vision. Furthermore, player 2 has to confirm his presence and select his team before each battle and there is no option for both players to forge weapons and distribute growth points simultaneously.

All in all this is easy the best warriors game ever, because it doesn”t simply offer the best fan service but provides an excellent opportunity for new players to become fans of the warriors franchise. If one plans to platinum than there is certainly loads to do and even for those who don”t giving all the characters a try is enough to guarantee longevity. The sheer amount of officers on screen is impressive and unlike some of the previous entries there aren”t any lags in this one. Perhaps the best element of WO3 is that it doesn”t have any issues per se, but rather a few minor shortcomings, which doesn”t really affect the game but could have made it a slightly sweeter experience.

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