Mar 30, 2011

[Games] Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes (PS3)

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes (PS3)I suppose you could say that my partner and I are not your typical variety of console gamers. Given we live together, we tend to favor games that provide local multiplayer options so we can play games together. However we don't like fighting games though and tend to look for games that offer cooperative play.

We're not big fans of network play either since this usually means only one person can play. Plus local high speed internet tends to suck either from an overall speed perspective or reliability of connection. Thus it leads to pretty annoying games where you keep dropping out for one reason or another.

When you apply those filters to the current PS3 marketplace, you actually end up with very few games. Sadly, this kind of speaks to the profile of the expected PS3 gamer - the kind who likes to play network games alone or who like investing lots of time in single-player RPGs. Nothing wrong with that image, but it does mean that games that my partner and I can get into as a couple are severely limited. So when good two-player games do come along, you can expect us to be all over it in a heartbeat.

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes is Capcom's answer to Koei's largely succesful Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors franchises. This is technically Sengoku Basara 3 given the previous editions released on prior consoles, although this is the only game to debut on the PS3 thus far.

The game largely features the same kind of hack-and-slash action popularized by the Dynasty Warriors series. That alone isn't too bad a grind for me and my partner, but the game truly shines in terms of its key differentiators.

Where the Koei games rely on the weapons to keep each character feeling unique, Sengoku Basara features a much more robust player system that provides multiple ways to improve your character in individual ways. Apart from looking for upgraded versions of weapons in the game, the system also allows for a wide variety of accessories that you can either find or assemble in a recipe fashion to add additional abilities to your character based on how many accessory slots are made available by the currently equipped weapon. I know, that was a really long sentence, but I wanted to be accurate here.

More importantly, each player character has a unique set of fighting moves known as "arts" that can be either spammed repeatedly or combined with other arts and basic attacks to create powerful combos. This can include moves as simple as your character charging forward for a sword slash to something as insane as creating black holes of negative energy that suck all opponents into it. And this is in addition to the more powerful Basara moves (similar to Koei's Musou attacks) and something called "Hero Time", which dramatically slows down the game to allow for longer combos.

Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu is the founder of Japan...Image via WikipediaThe story mode allows you to unlock up to 15 different characters each with his or her unique weapons, fighting styles and back story. The typical paths have you ending up either on the side of Itshida Mitsunari and his Western Army or with Tokugawa Ieyasu and his Eastern Army. But crazier paths have you going alone and fighting both armies or simply following the events along in search of your true love. Seriously.

The voice acting is suitably horrible and it matches the rather campy style of play. I kind of wish there was a way to watch the cut scenes with Japanese voicing and English subtitles, but the campy acting sufficed for now. It did keep things interesting to be sure apart from the gameplay itself.

Stages are very different in styling, mission objections and overall look, which is awesome for a game this expansive. Plus each level has at least two special objectives that give you more experience points in the end should you accomplish them. The only challenge is that the game won't officially tell you what they are - thus its up to you as a player to figure out how to better complete a stage given the varying conditions. And they can be pretty wild - one stage has you fighting an enemy who can hide himself in the sands around you. Another stage has you racing to extinguish the fires of a giant hot pot in order to get your opponent to come down and fight you.

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes is not just another button-mashing action game. It has a generous share of additional features that act as fun tweaks to things while keeping the game simple enough for it to be fun for almost everyone. It gets 5 bizarre character archetypes out of a possible 5.

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