• Koei is the name behind Warriors Orochi, and essentially is a blend of their Dynasty Warriors series and Samurai Warriors series bolted together with some of the nasty pieces removed and a game you can now finally get to grips with. This is one of these games that you will love or hate, and having reviewed previous versions from the Dynasty Warriors series, I was pleasantly surprised that Warriors Orochi ended up being a game I could have fun with. I had never got on with Dynasty Warriors games and had never played any of the Samurai Warriors series… but Warriors Orochi managed to not only grab my attention but hold onto it. If you like your button mashing hack and slash games then Warriors Orochi is certainly worth some of your time… this game is not great by any standards… but doesn’t suck either.

    If you have never dabbled with any of the available games, and boy oh boy there have been a lot of them… here’s the lowdown. Dynasty Warriors took warriors from Chinese history and included a lot of tactics into the game, tactics that in my opinion made the game very confusing and messy to play through. Samurai Warriors was pretty much on par with Dynasty Warriors albeit taking warriors from the Japanese Sengoku period. Step forward Warriors Orochi and a story line that sees Orochi; a Serpent King breaking through the fabric of time and space and kidnapping the warriors from both periods. Your mission… beat Orochi of course.

    Warriors Orochi provides four story/campaigns to play through, taking three of the Dynasty Warriors factions that being Wei, Wu and Shu, taking the fourth story line using the Samurai Warriors faction. You also have a free mode to choose from where you can make up a party of three from any of the factions, and Warriors Orochi does also feature Co-Op play for you to grab a friend and bang some heads – that being same console coop, not via Xbox LIVE.

    Warriors Orochi

    The formulae to Warriors Orochi, is very simple. You choose a story line to play through and you form a party of three warriors who in the game you can control. Then you will be presented with each level where you might have a simple objective to achieve, but more often than not beating the level comes down to two things, (a) kill anyone that gets in your way, paying attention to the enemy generals and (b) keep any supporting parties alive. I did mention that this was a pure hack and slash / button masher and it is, each of your warriors will have their own specific weapon and attacking comes down to two attack buttons and being able to string huge combos together. You also have a musou gauge which can be topped up with collectables and with this you can unleash a musou attack taking out a lot of enemies at the same time.

    When you are playing you can only control one of the three characters you have in your party, but you can flip through each party member at the touch of a button and as such, allows you to pull of a huge musou attack with one, switch quickly to the next and repeat, switching to the third member and unleashing musou hell again… This is of course a tactic I deployed and one that works well, especially when taking on multiple enemy generals or lots of enemy soldiers at the same time. A bonus with switching between your characters allows any benched characters to heal when not in use and to recharge their musou meter. You can instantly top up the gauge with items that get dropped, so your controllable character can keep unleashing musou attacks without the need to switch, but of course the option to change characters on the fly is there and it is a pretty slick in action.

    Sticking with the in game characters… in total there are 77 of them to collect and quite often you will find generals joining your cause because they have (a) either defected or (b) they were a separate faction that you helped, and as such come the end of the level decide to join you. This then allows you to alternate between your party characters for your band of three, cherry picking from the new officers. Characters also have the ability to increase in levels and you do this from experience gained from playing. Your playable characters will do this automatically through each level from just using them but your actions on each level will also score you some experience cash to spend. At the end of each level you can then spread the accrued amount between the other members in your faction that you are not directly controlling. The reason you should do this is pretty simple in that they will be supporting you as AI controlled generals in later levels so increasing their strengths is nothing but a good thing.

    Your characters also have abilities to gain, and while these do not seem to affect your gameplay in huge ways, each character has three abilities to gain, and gained from achieving certain goals. Now then… quick hint time and without wanting to leave you scratching your head. You can discover these goals by going into your ‘team info’ screen and checking out how you can gain said ability for said character. Goals as one example will include the likes of defeating three generals without using any musou attacks and within a certain time frame…grab them and make sure you finish the level… otherwise you will have to hunt after the ability again. This for me is the bonus of free mode as you will quite often ignore certain characters in the game, never choosing to use them, but as there are achievements linked to gaining abilities you will want to tick the boxes as you go grabbing all abilities for all characters.

    In game bonuses for your characters also include item drops including new weapons and special items such as increasing your characters speed, attack strength and what-not for short periods of time. Picking up weapons however, allows you to change your characters default weapon and also includes another option allowing you to fuse weapons together, increasing the weapon or now ‘super weapons’ attributes. This again does not really seem to shake the balance of the gameplay in any direction, but the increased attack strengths on newer weapons are noticeable and good fun to mess around with.

    The physical gameplay mechanics for Warriors Orochi is pretty neat… I faced slow down on two occasions where the game seemed to stutter due to the amount of on screen foes to take down, but generally the game is smooth as silk. And while I mentioned this at the beginning of the review I do need to say it again… You will love this game or hate it… Gameplay really does come down to starting on a level in a given area, and marching across the battlefield mashing the crap out of the X & Y buttons as you look to dominate anyone that gets in your way. Hit the end of the level and you have it all to look forward to again on the next level. Now don’t get me wrong as it is not totally mind numbing action, as there are certain things you need to do in each level, with the likes of rescuing/escorting or protecting certain AI characters, but in the main you will beat each level by simply getting to a certain point and beating the main enemy general. Rinse repeat and re-do is the best way to describe Warriors Orochi.

    Graphically the game is not a true test of HD gaming but it still looks pretty neat all the same. I have seen versions of the series on the 360 that looked dog-rough, Warriors Orochi is a step up, and going in the right direction, but Gears of War in the looks department, this game certainly isn’t. Audio presentation is a mixed bag and grunts and groans on the battlefield sound cool, but the voice over work is a tad cheesy. In all, the game is pleasing to look at and sounds right in most places.

    Warriors Orochi for me, has meant that this is the first of the many from Koei with their Warriors series, that I really have enjoyed. The game certainly is no walk in the park, but is not too hard either has no confusing tactic side games going on and with the ability to change between three playable characters makes the game a lot of fun. Longevity for me will come down to gaining all achievements and… well… at which stage makes the game redundant in the replay arena. But all the same this is certainly the best of the bunch and worth checking out… even if you do only rent it.

    Score: 7/10

    About The Author