For Musou fans looking for the next evolution in their favorite brand of hack-and-slash action game, Samurai Waarriors 4 is here to deliver. With new modes, new fighters and a few much-needed tweaks in tow, this latest offering from Omega Force and Koei could be the best one yet.

First, a brief explanation as to why this article is not a full-on review of Samurai Warriors 4. Our review copy of the game arrived the very day I was heading out of town for vacation, leaving me no time to play it or ship it off to a colleague. This was, obviously, no fault of Koei's. Back from my trip, I've only had half a dozen hours to sink into the game and, while I doubt my opinion will change much between now and when the credits roll, I don't feel I've sunk enough time in to give any sort of proper assessment.

However, I prefer to be as timely as possible and, since the game released earlier this week, I decided that getting some observations online for our curious readers now would be better than making everyone wait for a full assessment well after the launch date.

If you've played any previous Musou games, then you pretty much already know what to expect. For those curious about this particular brand of brawler, however, I'm happy to report that Samurai Warriors 4 feels like a perfect launching point, providing all of the signature combat with a few user-friendly additions that should make for an excellent adventure into Sengoku era warfare.

Even if you've never played a Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors or Warriors Orochi game before, you've likely seen these bad boys in action. You've got a big roster of characters to pick from (55 this time around), each with their own weapons and fighting styles. You run around a massive field of battle laying waste to anything that stands in your way, fighting bosses along the way and completing the occasional objective. Bare bones, that's what the Musou experience boils down to. Samurai Warriors 4 delivers on all of those prerequisites, as well as plugging in some brand new customization options, a new “Chronicle” mode and more.

Within the Story mode, you can take part in multiple missions for the 12 warring clans of Japan. Omega Force once again proves to be a friend to history buffs, pouring on details of the actual battles and revolutions that took place during the Sengoku era. I'm not entirely sure these historical characters dressed in such flashy armor or could actually fly through the air, dispatching hundreds of enemies at a time, but all of that visual flair certainly makes for a more interesting game.

You can actually take two generals into battle this time around but, instead of simply being able to swap between them on the fly, you can now issue simple commands to create more helpful strategies. If you're still busy trying to take down one batch of enemies while a new army is invading from the west, simply tap up on the D-pad, select where you want your general to go and order them to go get the party started without you. When you're finished with your current objective, you can simply tap a button and instantly switch to your other general, who will already be in the thick of a new battle.

Bolstering these new strategic options are a whole new set of moves called Hyper attacks. You, of course, have access to your standard and more powerful attacks, which can be strung together like always to dish out more damage. Working from strong to weak attack combos, now, unleashes Hyper attacks, which are perfect for clearing out weaker groups of baddies. This arsenal is complemented by a guard break to get through enemy defenses, powerful Musou powers, a souped-up Rage Mode and flashy finishers that can be executed at the tap of a button when prompted.

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