• So many series have attempted to distil the sense of massive combat-heavy gameplay that has been the stock-in-trade of the Dynasty Warriors / Samurai Warriors series. So logically, bringing together the two series into one gigantic mash-up would be a good idea. That’s what’s happened so far with the Warriors Orochi series.

    Dynasty Warriors / Samurai Warriors pit your playable character against seemingly overwhelming odds. Orochi, the Serpent King twisted together the warring histories of Japan and China to create a massive rift in time, and revelling in the ensuing chaos.

    The first game was released to a reasonable reception by both gamers and critics, selling over 1.5 million copies worldwide and it looks like Koei have carried over a few lessons from the first game, absolutely cramming the title with as many characters from both series as possible.

    Warriors Orochi 2

    New in Orochi 2 is the way multiplayer is handled. There are the usual two-player head to head modes, but there’s also a brace of co-op options including the two player tag team bouts, and with over 90 playable characters to choose from it’d be difficult not to find at least one that suits your playing style.

    Honour amongst fiends

    Tackling Orochi’s story, a prequel to the first game (one of three kingdoms including Wu, Wei and Shu also), you’ll get to see just who Orochi allied himself with in order to achieve his twisted aims. The cute but sinister Da Ji revels in the chaos of battle and human suffering, whereas Dong Zhuo is a gluttonous happy-go-lucky samurai master just content to tag along for the ride (but with his own nefarious aims which are revealed as Orochi’s storyline progresses).

    The game relies heavily on the tried and tested formula of mixing button-mashingly tricky combat moves with huge numbers of opponents. With each character carrying their own particular weapon of doom, and with them also having various abilities the player can use and unlock, there’s a heck of a lot of variety in gameplay.

    The first few tasks before Orochi and his cohorts involve infiltrating and laying waste to an entire garrison of battle-hardened soldiers. Capturing this outpost and killing its incumbents proves to be one of the pivotal points in the storyline, causing other previously warring factions to ally against the inhuman demons. Luckily for you, this just means even more opportunity to wade through even more legions of troops, honing your abilities even more.

    Warriors Orochi 2 isn’t the sort of game that seems to fit the 360, though we’ve seen similar stuff with the likes of Ninety Nine Nights and a few others, but with the Dynasty Warriors games still proving to be big money-spinners in Japan, having Orochi 2 release on the Xbox should definitely ensure that it continues to sell well over there.

    For a western audience though, the Warriors games have always felt a little light on storyline and a little unapproachable. Just about every fantasy cliché in the book is wheeled out in Warriors Orochi 2, and although there’s a certain amount of fun to be had in unlocking different specialist moves, weapons and characters the whole thing swiftly descends into a button-mashing chore with very little incentive to make you want to play through the other scenarios, or indeed see all of the various characters on offer.

    The Demon Head-to-Head Blaster

    The situation does definitely improve in the multiplayer modes, with plenty of opportunity to team up either locally or over LIVE to play variations of the main single-player modes (like Dream Mode, Survival Mode etc) or go head to head. In fact the latter almost makes the game worth the asking price. As a way of settling gaming scores there’s nothing better than pitting a couple of nearly-indestructible demons against each other. If you like titles like Soul Calibur or Tekken, then Orochi’s head to head or tag-team modes will feel familiar to you, and once again all the special moves and weapons modes you can use in the single-player game are on offer here.

    So in essence, the game saves itself a touch in multiplayer but if you’re already a massive fan of all things Dynasty Warriors / Orochi, or if you’re a recent platform convert from the Playstation 2 you might well find plenty here to entertain you. It’s just a shame that there’s not a little bit more variety in the core gameplay to prevent Warriors Orochi 2 being little more than a prettied-up re-tread of what’s gone before.

    Score: 6/10

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