Review: Samurai Warriors 4 – Blades Fall as Graceful as Sakura Petals

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Written by Dustin Murphy

Samurai Warriors 4 logo

Authors Note: The review copy was provided to B.A.T.G.R. by Koei Tecmo and was reviewed based on a digital retail copy on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. The PS4 copy was loaned to us by a friend of mine whom we are thankful let us use it. All screen shots were captured post-review edit so that we could show off the graphical prowess this game has on a handheld.

Pros:
-Chapters are divided by small sections (each chapter being a clan).
-Controls are very easy to use and carry over fluid like to the PS Vita
-New hyper moves provide fast and smooth flowing combat
-Long campaign that provides hours of fun

Cons:
-Combat that can get repetitive
-Traditional enemy pop-in and out’s still happen

“Glimmering in its own right as a brighter star than previous Warriors titles”

When the title was initially announced by Koei Tecmo and Omega Force, there was a bit an unexpected breeze that went through the gaming community let alone Warrior fans. With its 10th anniversary quickly coming up, it wasn’t a surprise to see Samurai Warriors 4 sneak in with a heavy hitting round of characters, customization’s, and even a rather long twelve chapter story that seeks to delve players into the world built before them by true Japanese history (don’t be surprised that this has been altered a tad bit for the sake of creativity). Told from the perspectives of characters such as Motonari Mōri, his son Takakage as they take on Hanbe and Kanbei, but even tales such as the Legend of Shingen Takeda while he campaigns with the support of the Sanada brothers. Perhaps you want to see something about Oda Nobunaga Oda or Hōjō Ujiyasu, which is something this game offers in its rather lengthy campaign that is unlocked by completing each of the games campaign missions that unlock more. Glimmering in its own right as a brighter star than previous Warriors titles seems to happen thanks to Omega Force approaching the campaign different from others.

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The game takes place during an all familiar period to those that are familiar with the Samurai Warriors franchise or even their Japanese history: the Sengoku period. This dates between the 15th to the 17th period of Japan. This game fills it out over 12 chapters and over 55 characters. That is a lot from this game. The best part? The ability to switch between two of the characters by using the Start/Options button while playing the enjoying the games story missions while in single player. This is something that can be highly praised compared to the strained look at having to depend on the A.I. that tends to get itself wiped out constantly and causing the mission to be failed.

“Unlike the console versions, the PS Vita version suffers some due to enemy pop-in’s”

On both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, Samurai Warriors shines brighter than any other game within the Warriors series. Staying what seems to be constantly around 60fps (PS4/PS3) the game seems to flow gloriously on the console versions. This allows for players to go into combat knowing that enemies won’t be restricted as heavily to pop-in’s. Unlike the console versions, the PS Vita version suffers due to enemy pop-in’s. It is a frequency that can cause some players to grit their teeth when trying to go into large areas of combat, something that wasn’t seen as heavily on the console versions; especially PlayStation 4. This goes for graphics as well, but this doesn’t mean that neither the PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Vita games aren’t at the top of their game with how well they shine graphically. This is something players can gladly applaud when playing on split-screen or online together using the games online compatibility. Sadly when having tested between the PlayStation Vita/PS3/PS4 versions, we noticed limited compatibility due to the games inability to share the servers that are used. This, however, does not take away from the games overall enjoyment of the series. This is where the PlayStation 4 version shined the brightest due to the heavy emphasis on the PlayStation 4 launch.

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Unlike past launches, the game will consume those who have purchased it. After completing the basic missions, which the game does suffer repetition because of how much each mission plays almost just alike, but with different settings as well as dialogue. This repetition is broken up with the use of rather unique combat system that has evolved. Taking out banner holders to lower enemy morale is a unique thing, this weakens their overall force, which allows for their forces to be cleaved through using weapons such as Nobunaga Oda’s glowing demon swords that lay enemies to waste without hesitation or perhaps take on a bit more explosive experience using Hōjō Ujiyasu and his demolition like force. Unfortunately the banner holder system does not seem to play a big of a role as it should and doesn’t put the game as in-depth as the titles that launched before it. This is something that should be focused upon within future content or even a future installment within the series.

“The full split-screen cooperative modes for story and free-roam can be addictive, but so is the games online support that matches the local game play in an equality that is unmatched.”

For those that have issues Koei Tecmo and the team at Omega Force have done something unique this time around. Since the game is focused on repetition and linear missions it can be hard to break it up. This time around it doesn’t suffer this problem at all. Koei Tecmo and Omega Force broke up this monotony by allowing for cooperative modes that stretch through the games Free Mode, Campaign Missions, but also the size of the games full roster that partners can choose from. Luckily, the game is rather fun thanks to the structuring that Samurai Warrior 4 has, which is fast combat that both players can carry out. The best example is during missions where players can take on multiple tasks such as side objectives by eliminating bonus targets as well as beating certain goals within time limits. The full split-screen cooperative modes for story and free-roam can be addictive, but so is the games online support that matches the local game play in an equality that is unmatched. Though there is something that remains hidden for those that haven’t explored it quite yet if at all; a reiteration of the Chronicle mode.

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“Fans can relate to ‘Chronicle’ mode to the Empire-like modes for Dynasty Warriors titles that have released over the years”

Years ago many players got to experience a mode called “Chronicle Mode”. This was a mode that was rather open-ended and allowed for players to take their created character that is made through the games Dojo and going through a battle filled Japan. Players will get to choose a leader of their choice based on the games story completion, and begin the adventure as a basic soldier and earn their way up higher ranks. This means players will also level, gem their gear, and even level up their characters. Does this end? No, it’s something that will keep going, going, and going until players find themselves tired. Fortunately this mode is one of those that kept even myself up till extreme hours of the night before realizing that the sun has already set and was close to once more rising into the skies.

Fans can relate to ‘Chronicle’ mode to the Empire-like modes for Dynasty Warriors titles that have released over the years. The difference is that players can take on certain missions from officers within the game that they recruit or even expand their own army so that they have a larger force. However, this doesn’t always mean there is an amazingly good outcome. Though weapons as always can be upgraded as mentioned before, but new ones as well as customization’s can be found by completing the game itself. For those who want to experience new weapons? Do so, you can choose from polearms, dual daggers, swords, and even those largely destructive demolition weapons that Hōjō Ujiyasu stomps through the game using. The soldiers created can be male or female, which is something that offers a very cool twist on each of the genders, but also endless hours of gameplay and enjoyment.

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“This is one of the best Warriors titles to date”

Even as a Warriors fan there are always shortcomings to the series and this one has suffered from one that is very well known to us all; repetition. Thankfully the game doesn’t suffer from this as bad as others since there has been a lot introduced within the title, but also the online co-op for several of the games modes. Sure the game suffers from the well known pop-in’s from enemies and terrain, but overall the game does not suffer like past titles. The frame rate is smooth, the button push to reaction timing is perfect, but same with the choice of difficulties. Whether you have someone to play with or not, the game is solid and offers much more than in previous titles. Simply put: This is one of the best Warriors titles to date.

With all that being said, Koei Tecmo teamed with Omega Force has left me astounded. This is truly a game that PS4, PS Vita, and PS3 owners should add to their collections in order to find some unique enjoyment, but also a bit of lessons in history that many may or may not know.

 

So what is the final verdict? A hacked and slashed 8 out of 10.

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