September 25, 2013
The story starts you off with Luffy and his crew battling a large fleet of marines led by the determined Smoker. After traveling to new islands, Luffy and his crew find dials from the land of Skypiea which cause everyone but him and his navigator, Nami, to go crazy. Forced to team up with Smoker, whose crew has lost their sanity as well, Luffy journeys to discover the meaning of the dials, how to save his friends, and uncover a conspiracy within the World Government while running into many familiar allies and enemies.
The gameplay is very much like the Dynasty Warriors series. Players will select a character and fight hoards of enemies to secure areas of a map. As you do this, other goals and objectives will appear such as saving a teammate, finding a hidden enemy, or confronting a boss.
By defeating enemies you gain experience points to level up. If you want to use a different character, but hate developing them, you can transfer experience to a character of your choosing. It’s a nice touch and does help to move away from a bit of the monotony.
While your primary attacks stem from the square and triangle button, there are very few combinations that you have at first. However, the more you level up, the more combos you unlock. It may take several levels though so you may be stuck with the same three or four combos for a while.
Other attacks come from filling up gauges on the screen. One gauge dictates the use of large attacks that can hit many enemies. The other allows access to a temporary, powered-up state. For example, Luffy will use haki to cause surrounding enemies to pass out. His moves will also change as he uses both Second and Third Gear to attack many enemies at once. When entering this state, a second gauge will appear with a photo of an ally that you brought into battle. If this fills and you press circle, the main fighter will use an attack as he exits to make way for the ally who attacks on entrance. The ally can only stay for a limited time, but they level up as well which can increase their tagged in duration.
While the first few levels can only be played with Luffy, you soon will be able to use Nami, Smoker, Brooke, Jimbei, and so on. The only bummer is that some characters take a lot longer to unlock so it may be a while before you can play as the swordsman Zoro or the lovesick Sanji.
Throughout the game you collect various coins. Some are rarer than others but they serve two purposes. One is to be equipped to your character to increase his or her stats. The more you use the coins, the more they level up, just like you character. Some coins work well together which incurs bonuses. The second purpose is to fill out bingo cards. You unlock these cards while progressing through the game. If you happen to get three coins in a row, you will unlock extra skills. These skills are equip-able just like the coins. The number of slots for accommodating coins and skills will increase as you level up.
Pirate Warriors 2 comes with the standard multi-chapter story mode. Here you can play segments through the perspective of other characters. For example, one segment lets you see why Smoker decided to join the Straw Hat pirates.
Also included are Free Play (allowing replay of story chapters), Online, Challenge Mode, Gallery (for buying unlockables). The active modes, however, do not offer more than revisiting the same locations and fight the same enemies. It means that only hardened fans will find them worthwhile.
The graphics will be a treat for fans of the anime as each 3D character and location appear to be sculpted by Eiichiro Oda himself. The music isn't half bad either, offering up an upbeat, jazz flavor that makes the battles all the more enjoyable and slightly distracts players from the repetitiveness coupled with the use of the Japanese voice cast.
The only real gripe with presentation is the levels. This doesn’t apply to them all, but certain portions of levels appear identical to one another. This makes navigation a tad difficult which tends to be tricky to begin with as the screen is often flooded with multiple events happening at once.
While there may not be much difference in the game modes, collecting coins are fun. Each level has three secret coins that are unlocked on the field once a secret condition is met. Knowing that you have these coins is not only satisfying, but also helps fill out the bingo cards.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 is a treat for fans of the series, but perhaps it's only for the fans. While the personalities of the crew translate almost flawlessly into the game, the gameplay still suffers from repetitiveness every few levels. But if you’re looking for a game to scratch your gomu-gomu no itch, look no further.