Samurai Warriors 4 Review
Most gamers are probably more familiar with Omega Force’s Dynasty Warriors franchise, but Samurai Warriors has had some very solid entries as well. The series takes place in Sengoku-era Japan, offering embellished takes on historical battles featuring real-life figures like Goemon Ishikawa and Musashi Miyamoto. Samurai Warriors 4 celebrates the tenth anniversary of the hack-and-slash franchise with fun, addictive gameplay and a huge amount of content.
Samurai Warriors 4 marks the series’ first entry on Sony platforms since Samurai Warriors 2 in 2006 (the third game was exclusive to the Nintendo Wii). It’s by far the most expansive game in the franchise, with 55 characters and 12 story campaigns, each following the war from a different perspective. The game has only two main modes, as opposed to the boatload of modes that Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate packed in, but there’s a lot of content here and everything feels nice and polished.
The main Story Mode’s 12 separate campaigns each have a respectable amount of missions, meaning that it will take players a significant amount of time to beat everything and unlock all the bonus content. Conversational cutscenes play before and after each battle, lending the combatants a bit of personality and adding some drama and emotion to the story at hand. Character models look stellar, with spot-on lip synching and a ton of detail. The cutscenes in particular look fantastic on PlayStation 4, with the improved character models, lighting, and resolution making an immediate impact. While Samurai Warriors looks pretty good on PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, it looks drastically better on PS4. The PlayStation 4 version of the game also boasts a significantly improved framerate, as well as a lot more characters on the screen at once.
As with other games in the Dynasty Warriors series, Samurai Warriors 4 gives players the ability to switch between two characters at will. The secondary character, who you choose at the outset of your mission along with their weapon, items and horse, can be given orders on the battlefield – such as protecting the main character, attacking an enemy outpost, or staying put where they are. It also makes fast-traveling through the battlefield much quicker than running or even riding on horseback. Along with a decent selection of light and heavy attacks, Omega Force has imbued each character’s arsenal with hyper combos, special attacks, parries/ ripostes, air recoveries, shadow dodges, guard breaks, finishers and more. The foundation of Samurai Warriors 4’s combat system is still rather simplistic, but these touches add a nice layer of complexity for longtime players of the series. This helps lessen, to an extent, the repetitive nature of the combat and missions throughout the game. Playing the game in co-op mode, either locally or online, definitely adds an additional layer of fun to the proceedings.
The 55 playable characters are varied enough that everyone should be able to easily find a warrior that fits their playing style. The new hyper attacks allow players to slice through hordes of enemies quickly by tapping the triangle button, so overall the gameplay is fast and frenetic. You’ll easily carve through 1000 opponents in each level, possibly even 2000. As you beat down your foes, your attacks will level up – so if you use your hyper attack or special attack a lot, that particular move will become more powerful.
Samurai Warriors 4 also has a highly customizable character creation suite, which is definitely appreciated. You can change your avatar’s face, clothing, hairstyle, accessories, insignia, weapons, and more. Once you’re happy with your creation, you can take them into the new Chronicle mode, where a new story will see your avatar make their way from a lowly foot soldier to forging their own legend on the battlefield.
Samurai Warriors 4 also has a great feature similar to Metal Gear Solid HD Collection’s Transfarring, which allows users to upload and download save date quickly between platforms. I tested this on the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita, and it worked flawlessly every time. It’s great to know that any progress made on the go transfers over to the big screen, so that you won’t need to replay sections of the game you’ve already beaten. Similarly, you can level up your characters on the Vita and import that progress into the PS4 version. There is a bit of a buffer between downloads, however – you can only download data once every few hours or so. Otherwise, this feature is fantastic and I hope more games utilize something similar in the future.
While Samurai Warriors 4 still suffers from some of the same problems as other games in the series, overall it’s a very enjoyable game for the right audience. The addictive, fast-paced strategic action is polished to a mirror sheen, and the game’s massive battles look great on the PlayStation 4. Fans of the series will enjoy creating their own character in the new Chronicle mode, as well as teaming up with friends and conquering the 12 story campaigns. There’s a sizeable amount of content here to keep players happy for a long while.