Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Older Way of the Samurai 3 review I did last year

Way Of The Samurai 3
The third installment of the Way Of The Samurai series was unknown for the majority of people in my gaming circles and this seems to be the trend for the whole series. These under the radar games are a great fun to play and even though there are some obvious things that make you go, "hmm..." The diehard WOTS fans were all about it. As was I. Until I played it.
Let me first say that the first game of the series for the PS2 was such a sleeper hit that to call it a hit is still somewhat overstating it. It was just such a great game. And the second was disappointingly similar. This third title was what I desperately hoped it wouldn't be. They expanded on the things that weren't that great.
They didn't expand the landscape of the game. If they somehow took WOTS and made it more of a sandbox (i.e.:Elder Scrolls titles, FF8, Gun, GTA) instead of the previous system, the game would just rule. It's too constraining to have over 20 different endings and have all the different choices to make in such a small world. There are only 8 neighborhoods to explore, and one of them is just a small road that takes about 2 minutes to walk through even if you stop and talk to everyone. The story is simply too large to have in such a small setting.
They didn't add more enemies or clans. There are still only 2 main warring factions and your only other choice (besides just leaving, which is an ending as well) is to side with the villagers. Who wants to do that? Come on now, this game is about WAR and Samurai clans fighting each other! Screw farming! Seriously, you can lay your sword down and just farm. I didn't realize we were playing Harvest Moon. Or Farmville a la Feudal Japan. This time it is a little different in that one clan isn't obviously a more malevolent than the other. Both the Ouka Clan and the Fujimori Clan have apparent faults at the lowest level while the higher ranking samurai of each clan walk around with ignorance. Of course, you could always go be with the good guys and farm...yeah...about that.
They didn't improve the English audio at all. While the first game just had grunts and random screams in Japanese (which are still in this one) and the second had poorly dubbed English actors, you'd think they'd step it up a little bit. Seeing as how they jumped to the next gen console. But no. This makes it very noticeable that Acquire and Spike didn't give a rip about their American audience. If I spoke Japanese I could tell you if that audio was good or not. But seeing as most of I do not, I'll say I kept it on the Japanese the whole time. It just made it seem cooler.
They changed the fighting system to a point scale. So, if your defense was less than your aggressor, you couldn't block him. They didn't keep it a skill based game and put numerical formulas to attack and defense. Lame. In the previous games, as long as you blocked or parried the attack, you were good until your sword broke. Now, regardless of you actually blocking a strike or not, you had to hope you had a better defense then your enemy. The same was true for attacking as well. If your opponent had a stronger defense it seemed to take forever to land a hit. The old style was just better. They did however go back to the blocking of the first game with the push/pull blocking. However, with inclusion of the point scale, it's not the same somehow.
They (practically) didn't change the graphics. The movies even had very little changes. The first game, which came out in 2002, had pretty comparable graphics to this game. It's pretty simple and I feel like they could've done so much better. Especially with it also on the PS3. The samurai's outfits looked even less cool than the second. The videos are choppy and don't really flow well together especially in intense moments. Reactions are delayed and sometimes the voice would come out before the character would move.
They didn't even change the game play very much. You can become a member of one of the clans, or both if you so choose, but they'll know it and ostracize you.You do jobs for one of them, you increase your standing in said clan, you meet the leader and get the ending for that play through. Yep. Just like the last two games. They did change it up a tiny bit in this one in that your actions finally actually dictate what happens. Before, you could attack someone and get away with it. Not anymore. You can even attack or apologize during videos. So that was kind of cool. You can even kill the leader of the Ouka Clan and become the leader of the clan. All that will happen is that the clan will bow to you as you walk past. Once again, the other clan will know it but will not acknowledge it when speaking of taking out your clan. They'll talk about taking down the leader right in front of you as if they didn't know you were him even though they just mentioned it 10 minutes ago. The job system is kind of hit and miss as well. I don't know if it's a glitch or not but I've found myself doing the same job involving the same people three times in succession. And they do not get super inventive either. It's either be a FedEx man and deliver packages or go and fight somebody. This second options becomes even harder when you have to attack someone in the middle of town. The target will always run and you'll have to attack him in public which will bring the guards and you'll go in time out or something. The game even seems to block it's own progression with videos being unaccessable when you're on a job. So if you just happen to take another job and miss out on the big finale then you're just out of luck. Both Clans have slightly skewed versions of the same jobs so that adds to the chore of doing these tasks. The weapon creator gets a little better in this game, and I really enjoyed the addition of spears to the arsenal. But when facing the faster swords of the bosses, I always found myself reverting back to the sword.
This game really isn't very different from it's predecessors making it mainly a Fans Only type of game. And even then, the $60 tag is a little steep for such a bland game. I'd wait for it to drop to the $40 tag. Random kids (17+ kids) who just watched "The Last Samurai" and are looking for a cool samurai game will probably enjoy this game as well as long as they're not super picky. Even though there are over 20 endings, I found the replay value to wane the further I went. You might as well go pick up the first "Way Of The Samurai" for PS2. It's still the best out of the franchise.

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