Samurai Warriors 4-II
Samurai Warriors has often played second fiddle to its most established sibling franchise, Dynasty Warriors, but it has been gaining more traction in recent times. Samurai Warriors 4-II looks to expand further on this by offering a more complete version of the experience proposed within the original game.
Often we see numbered games within the Warriors series receiving additional titles as Xtreme Legends or even Empires within the Dynasty Warriors franchise. However, this specific title does not fall under that category - it's more of a continuation. There are now thirteen new chapters to play through with the game's original cast, and Naomasa Li has also been added as a new character. The refreshed chapters allow the story to be retold from a slightly different perspective and in the case of Naomasa Li, an entirely new one.
The same style has been used for Samurai Warriors 4-II, with a wider narration explaining the scenario and its importance at the time. Following this, small snippets of conversations are showcased before and after battles to give more depth to the characters. It worked well in the original Samurai Warriors 4 and it continues to do so now, but it would have been nice to see it pushed a little further. Even if they are often one-dimensional, from the interactions we can see that the relationships have depth to them. It makes sense, to a degree, as each campaign this time around is primarily focussed on one individual character, but it means we often don't get to see much more about what's going on in the camp or how certain actions are affecting the wider scenario.
For this version of the game, the fast-paced combat, that focusses on the four attack types has been retained. However, there have been some tweaks made.
The most noticeable tweak comes in how Hyper Attacks are used. This type of combo is initiated by starting a combo with Triangle and it is designed to take down standard troops with relative ease. You can cut straight through them, sending waves of enemies flying and even introduce some area of effect moves to end off the chain. For Samurai Warriors 4-II, the implementation has been amended to make this type of attack less effective in areas where the enemy has high morale. If you try to initiate Hyper Attacks in enemy territory, you will find that it is not as fluid; you will end up getting stuck on enemies as your attacks are unsuccessful.
Another change comes with how characters level up. In the original Samurai Warriors 4, you could gain affinity with attack types by using them on a regular basis. This, however, has been removed and you now enhance characters by acquiring skills. Each character has a board containing skills and you need to use Tomes to unlock these skills. Some of them can be used in combat to enhance your character (i.e. increasing speed for a period of time), while others are more permanent changes, such as increasing attack damage. These basic upgrades will complement the standard attribute boosts gained by a character levelling up.
Aside from the new story chapters, the other big new mode is Survival. This offers two scenarios, Endless Castle and Challenge. The first pits you to complete 100 levels, with each level giving you a task that must be completed in order to progress. These become progressively more difficult, but they are quite limited. You will often have to either slay a set number of troops, defend some officers or slay enemy officers and it becomes a little monotonous. Every 5 levels you will face a more difficult task and this does help to break up the monotony somewhat, but it still feels a bit more arduous than it needed to.
Challenge Mode is a little bit more fun, but is also a little limiting. There are four challenges to complete; defeat enemies within a time limit, get combos to receive gold, race to kill enemies and then kill enemies where you can die in one hit. Each challenge is graded, so you need to perform well to achieve the top rank and the final room only unlocks once at least an A rank has been achieved. It will keep you occupied for a short time, but once you've achieved S rank each, there is limited re-play value.
Samurai Warriors 4-II offers new chapters of story and Endless Castle mode, but unfortunately it adds little else when compared with the original Samurai Warriors 4. It's still a decent new offering into the franchise, but the gameplay tweaks are minor and it's difficult to see where the longevity lies. Worth picking up if you're a serious fan, but if you already own Samurai Warriors 4, it might be best to wait for Samurai Warriors 4: Empires.
|Gameplay is still very strong.|
|Soundtrack still rocks.|
|Taking on the challenges for the first time.|
|Endless Castle ends up becoming quite tedious.|
|Limited changes on the whole.|
|Difficult to see where the long-term appeal of the title is.|