Warriors OrochiThe evil Serpent King, the undefeatable and master of all Time and Space Orochi has landed upon our shores, ripping out the greatest warriors of our time and laying siege to the world as we know it. Only a few lieutenants remain unaligned to the Serpent King and for World to ever know the peace that it has now lost, someone will need to rise above the innumerable challenges and face down the might Serpent King himself!

Only the strongest of warrior leaders need apply.

Koei and developer Omega Force lump two of their biggest (and frighteningly similar) franchises together to bring us Warriors Orochi, a game hoping to appeal to the masses of Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors fans out there.

77 playable characters are up for grabs, dealt into four main story campaigns that involve the Wu, Wei and Shu factions from Dynasty Warriors and one all-purpose Samurai Warriors group. Each of the story campaigns differ from faction to faction, but the missions and combat mechanics are all exactly alike, with the ultimate goal of each campaign pitching you against Orochi himself.

The combat mechanic has changed a little from your standard Dynasty Warriors or Samurai Warriors fare, switching to a team battle scenario in which you control three warriors simultaneously (though only one appears on screen at any point in time), switching out between the three of them at a push of a button and thereby cheating death in the nick of time.

To hit things you press the X button (a lot), intertwining with the occasional triangle button press just for a bit of variety every now and then (seriously, the only combos look like this: X, triangle. X, X, triangle. X, X, X, triangle. X, X, X, X, triangle). Other than that, you can also jump and after growing your special ‘musou’ bar enough, you can unleash a powerful special move whose strength is inversely linked to your current health status.

The only way in which to describe gameplay in Warriors Orochi is to say ‘mindless, endless, button bashing’. From the get go the action is relentless as horde upon horde of fairly harmless enemy soldiers are released into your path, breaking only for the occasional enemy commander or lieutenant that put up a ridiculously higher level of retaliation and may just end up killing you off before you even realize what is happening.

Each stage is divided into a number of sub missions and you will often find objectives changing mid-stage, meaning that the game manages to generate an almost endless number of ‘different’ missions for you to undertake. However that said, each mission can pretty much be summed up with ‘beat the crap out of the enemy while ensuring your own camp and leader remains safe’.

Still, this added ‘variety’ does help to stave off any boredom you might be experiencing in what can become quite a lengthy campaign depending on how many enemy soldiers you’re after if you really are into the stats sort of thing. (Of course that said, the relentless button bashing should mean you never really have time to sit back and think about just how much of the same thing you keep doing over and over again anyway!)

In terms of replay value, Warriors Orochi certainly doesn’t let one down in the selectable character arena as there are literally almost a hundred warriors to pick and choose from, each with their own distinctive look, feel and moves. Of course the nature of the game means it is doubtful that you’ll ever get around to playing with each and every single character, but it is still damn nice that they included this many. Oh, and the upgrade, points distribution system is a pretty good incentive to leveling up as many of the characters (and their weapons) as possible! Other than that, there are a few unlockable pictures to go after, but to be honest they really aren’t worth the effort.

On the visual front, all I can say is at least the main characters are all nicely detailed because their costumes all look nice. Oh, and the opening CG scene looks quite pretty, just what you’d expect from a Japanese origin game.

And that is about that in terms of positives regarding the visuals from Warriors Orochi.

As regulars to the Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors will know by now, texture detail is pretty shoddy and almost a disgrace to look at if you consider the technical abilities that have been tapped into on the PS2 in the past, and Warriors Orochi certainly sticks to this tradition then. The game looks pretty bland, and unfortunately the very sparse and simplistic backgrounds and levels don’t help its visual cause. Thankfully though this lack of detail is made up for by the then smooth fighting animation as the game tosses horde after horde of enemy at you and the special light effects caused by the blades certainly is something to visually enjoy.

Aurally, it must be said that just as with the visuals, Warriors Orochi does not exactly set the bar all that high. The dialogue is as cheesy as always and the lack of Japanese language track does more harm than good because you get saddled with the usual mix of overenthusiastic and underenthusiastic English voice actors that generally only serve to make you cringe. Sound effects are used over and over again, and it must be said that the voices and sound effects during actual game play do sound a little muddy, though it might have been more excusable if the content was not quite repeated as often as it is.

The musical score dishes up a thumping techno soundtrack that certainly keeps the adrenaline flowing and works well with the button bashing gameplay, but it must be said that the repetitive and constant reuse of the same material can get pretty tiresome pretty quickly.

So it may not look all that pretty up close and it can certainly be accused of simply more of the same mind-drainingly repetitive gameplay, but damn it, I thoroughly enjoyed Warriors Orochi and at times had to force myself to put down the controller so as to escape its addictive claws. And I know this sounds counterintuitive to everything I’ve just listed above, but that’s about the sum of things. Warriors Orochi is addictive. Very addictive.

In short, it’s a simplistic button-bashing game with oodles of selectable characters that is equally fun playing by yourself or with a partner, making it well worth spending your hard earned cash on if you are as easily entertained as me then! More discerning gamers should rather look elsewhere. :)

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Related link: http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/action/musouorochi/index.html