$39.99 - $49.99
Xbox 360 (PS2)
Website:Who is Orochi?
I know it’s very late in the game to be reviewing this game, but what the hell, I’ve got another two weeks before I can get my grubby little hands on the Japanese release of Dynasty Warriors 6, which is Shin Sangokumusou 5 in Japan because the first Dynasty Warriors game was just a poor fighting game called Sangokumusou. The next one was prefaced with “Shin” which means “true,” kind of like The “Real” Ghostbusters. In light of the release of part six which is actually part five I ran out to the game store and picked up an Xbox 360 edition of a game that only fans of the Koei Warriors series care about. That’s right, grab your weapon of choice, look for a supply base to keep your stock of rice bowls and magic urns safe and brace yourself, here comes Warriors Orochi!
The title of the game comes from the Japanese folktale of Yamata no Orochi, the terrible eight headed, flying serpent that was large enough to blot the sun out of the sky and demanded sacrifices regularly. He did a few other things, which included getting three sheets to the wind too. Take what you know about him at this point and throw it out the window; this has nothing to do with those stories aside from Orochi being the serpent lord. This time, instead of being a giant snake with eight heads he’s some guy with as many minions named after snakes. Oh yeah, and he can bend time and space.
He starts by kidnapping the Three Kingdoms of Dynasty Warriors and the warring states of Japan depicted in Samurai Warriors, that's right, the entire lands and throws them together which after a while is vaguely reminiscent of an episode of Star Trek I once saw. From there, the series manages to keep its ultimately evil characters evil and ultimately good ones good. The heroes in the gray area from previous games divide themselves in the Koei tradition of alternating from game to game who is good and who is evil. That’s something I’ve always admired about these games. Even though it’s based on historical figures and battles, they do their best of remaining objective from game to game. Whatever is needed to tell the best story.
It’s pointless to really talk about the gameplay in any of these games because in the end they’re all the same. You pick your character, skip through some cinematics that you really could care less about and drop into a field of hapless grunts button mashing to your hearts content and if you’re like me - god help you – will make some sort of a joke pretending you’ve accomplished something worthy of a Bob Hope-esque one-liner. Occasionally you will run into a guy with a HUD life bar and name who is still an idiot, but an idiot who knows that his weapon is for more than scratching his posterior. They’ve also kept the typical uninspired and bad voice acting from the Dynasty Warriors games and juxtapose it with the hammy and bad voice acting from Samurai Warriors.
What keeps us coming back to these games is always the little changes: Addition of playable characters, new game modes and the hope that this time they’ll add an upskirt scene of Diao Xiao. That’s just wrong. What’s worse is hoping for a steamy romantic scene between Sun Shang Xiang and Okuni. I also don’t care that they’re pushing the dramatic fight between Lu Bu and Honda Tadakatsu. I want to see Lu Bu taking on Maeda Keiji.
This game delivers all sorts of pseudo-updates that we’ve come to expect from Koei. Highlights are that you get to play as characters from every single game that’s come out. Of course this isn’t all good, because this saw a return of Goemon Ishikawa. You also get to play as three characters at a time with their team switch system that seems to ensure your inability to die because you regenerate health and musou attack power when not playing as that character. This way you get to level up three characters at a time too. They did balance this though. Your fellow officers don’t level up on their own as they used to. Now you’re forced to use growth points to level up computer played friendly characters.
The growth point system is an interesting addition too. Now if you unlock a character you know will be awesome when he’s at a huge level but don’t want take the time to build him, save up points from other characters' battles and just level him up that way. The system is also used to make new weapons in the weapon fusion option which is really just a higher stakes weapon upgrade where to upgrade one weapon you have to destroy another and use experience, I mean growth points. Other than that, the most noticeable change to the game is graphical quality and that there are a few more things you can break with your horse this time around.
As it is with almost any Koei Warriors game, this one that is great for killing brain cells and even better for some mindless fun to have with friends. Nothing terribly special, but if you enjoyed Dynasty Warriors 2-5, Samurai Warriors 1&2 and the several thousand spinoffs in Empires, Tactics and Xtreme Legends that by my count actually comes to twenty-four games; you’ll enjoy this one a little bit more. Not much, but this one that slipped through the cracks should be enough to hold you over until the promising Dynasty Warriors 6.