This game squandered potential and is a regression in the series.
Way of the Samurai 2 showed an understanding of improvement from the developer. I guess they just slacked off for 5 years between instalments, because this one is a huge let-down.
Let's get to work:LET'S TALK GAME-PLAY
LET’S TALK GRAPHICS:
- It's a compromise between the first and second games for moving around and exploring. The first was very limited, a lot like the story mode in Bushido-Blade, where you'd run around to different areas with a load screen in-between. The second was very structured, with a menu screen and set time phases. This one allows you to do both, but removes the 'set days' limit to allow for more resource gathering.
- The combat is the same as 2, but the addition of an ability to flip your weapon (blunt side for swords, butt end for spears) to do blunt damage and spare opponents is one of the few props I'll give this game.
- Spears spice things up a little, although they suffer from less imaginative moves than the swords.
- You now have the option of apologizing or drawing your weapon during cut-scenes, to various effects.
- You are not forced to save after you get killed - you can regress to a prior save. This is actually a big deal because if you die just before the conclusion there's no way you want to start over.
LET'S TALK SOUND
- The opening cut scene is beautiful, visceral, and I refuse to believe those same people worked on the in game models.
- HDR really gives a texture to day and night that is stunning.
- Depth of field instancing is nice.
LET'S TALK STORY:
- There is more authentic and less synthesized sounding music here.
- More focus on group scenes with background talking, which is more realistic.
- The first game was in the Meiji era. The second in the Edo era at the beginning of the Tokugawa Shogunate. This one is set in the late 16th century - a time of total war as Nobunaga Oda and then Daimyo Tokugawa Ieyasu led vast armies and set the stage for the Sengoku period. By the end of the period heavy armour and spears would lose prominence and birth the the Edo period, the beginning of the end for the Samurai class. This is an interesting time period and a logical choice as the series progresses back into time.
- In prior games the side of the peasants has been illustrated through warriors wanting to fight for them. This time it is through an older man who gave up his sword for a hoe and became a farmer. I like that sentiment - that realism. He's seen both sides and wants the main character to give up his sword and learn how to make life grow instead of cut it down.
The BadLET'S TALK GAME-PLAY
LET’S TALK GRAPHICS:
- It takes about 10 minutes usually to get a good sense of what a game is like. Sometimes initial impressions are wrong (see Jagged Alliance), sometimes you can tell right off that it's not going to be a fun time (see Alone in the Dark). I paid $25 for this (this year). It's worth maybe $15.
- It's copied and pasted from 2, I sincerely doubt a lot of new work was done on this. This isn't a hockey game guys, you can't get away with that!
- In the first game, when you talked to people, they'd make an annoying "Ohio" sound, or a whining "Eyeh" sound. It was badly recorded and annoying. And they'd make it with every text box that popped up. We're talking every 3 words or so. It made talking to people something annoying. The second game, the annoying sounds were better recorded. Now, again, it's 5 years later. And it's the same thing.
- The game hasn't crashed, but the slow down kicks in more than it should.
- 'Way of the Samurai' hasn't been able to address certain things before this game. Did you know that a large part of Japanese culture in this era revolved around a Shinto concept of 'Cleanliness'? That looting bodies was seen as an unclean behavior? Well the game does, and it addresses it, but it doesn't punish you for doing it. Not for stealing either. It kind of breaks this 'simulation' a little when I can just steal crops from starving people and not be fined for it. If you're going to bring it up, use it. Basic competence fail right there. Punch a peasant lose 50 points, steal from him, eh, who cares?
LET'S TALK SOUND
- Go watch the opening movie on youtube. I'll wait. Pretty good, right? Well I'm sure they outsourced that, because these are some lazy people at work here. I can't understand how people who take such care to choreograph elegant fight moves fail on a something so basic as facial expressions and movement. Cut-scenes are painful to watch. They're ugly, unrealistic, and people sit stock still inflating and deflating like balloons, starting forward with dead eyes.
- FACES, DON'T, WORK THAT WAY. The mouth doesn't just explode open and shut... This is just stupid. This is four years after MGS: Snake Eater.
- No direction in scenes. They're horrible. You have to stare at your character standing perfectly still with no facial expression for about 5-7 seconds. Who thought this was acceptable?
- Serious lack of character models in this game. Even named characters and job givers are just generic models.
LET'S TALK STORY:
- I know ADR rates are kinda high, but seriously, it's 2008 and your characters just spit out syllables to indicate mood?
- The English dub sucks. It's not Resident Evil 1 bad, but I switched it over to the Japanese dub. I don't know if it sucks because my Japanese isn't anything to brag about.
- The story in this series has always been the point. Both previous stories have been pretty good. This one is up to snuff, but not spectacular.
- The characters in the previous games were part of the fun factor. Here they are seriously lacking, stereotypical anime characters. In the second game the Auto (ph) gang had a creepy goth chick(?), a noble if misguided leader, a smokin' blonde Courtesan, and a slimy Chinese agent to deal with. There were ninja hiding in the shadows, a seriously noble Samurai lord, his gay underling, and his fanatical strong-man.
- The set-up is too simple. The decent characters are too predictable. Some decisions (like having two Dojima blacksmith's) are just dumb. The map is confusing, confused, and although pretty. The leader of the Ouaka (ph) gang is built like Meng-Huo from Dynasty Warriors. Why?
The Bottom Line Look, I bought this game because I liked the other two. I'm playing it right now and I'll keep playing it, but I have to be honest with you in that I was let down. They've lost my 'buying' trust, and I'll have to demo WOTS:4 before I purchase it.
This game is an exercise in frustration. If you're wondering why I haven't brought up the 'weapon crafting' aspect of the game it's because I doubt anyone will want to play it long enough to earn enough skills to make a decent weapon. It's not a bad idea, but it's effort that should have been spent on the story or the engine - it's just something to put on the back of the box. Same with the companion system. Rent it first unless you can pick it up for what it's worth. $15.