Samurai games are one of those genres that don’t come around all that often, but when they do, they seem to always cause some sort of stir. These games, for whatever reason, seem to be a lot of fun, and just to be honest the whole genre seems like one of the more popular ones as well. Genji: Dawn of Samurai is the latest Samurai game on the market that takes the oriental style theme and tries to make it your action game of choice this holiday season. So are you going to want to take out your samurai sword and hack and slash your way through Genji? Read our full review to find out!
Having played the demo before the game was released, I was really excited to see how this game was going to turn out, because from what I saw from the demo the game seemed to have a lot of potential. One of the most interesting parts I felt about Genji was its rich ancient storyline, which to me sounded like it had the potential to be very impressive. The story is primarily based off the Tale of Genji, which many people/historians believe to be the world’s very first novel, and then of course there are others who disagree. Don’t expect the story to tie to closely to that original tale, but there are quite a few characters from the novel that make their appearance in the game.
Genji: Dawn of a Samurai has you taking the roll of Yoshitsune, who basically needs to collect some of these Amahagane stones. To be honest with you, the story is not the easiest to follow but at the same time is still very interesting. Basically you are now on your quest and not to long after you start you take up a companion by the name of Benkei, who basically is the pure brawler in the game. Throughout the rest of the Genji tale you will be able to switch between characters when you want to, and this helps keep the game from feeling to repetitive.
So is Genji going to revolutionize the way we play Samurai action games? Not quite, you can expect to do a whole lot of button mashing in Genji, and although this may sound as though I am completely putting down the game, I am not. I am just stating that there are a lot of pretty typical soldiers out there that don’t quite have what it takes to even cause a problem with the wrath of your abilities. You basically have a pretty standard set of abilities and can really easily tie them all together into some pretty stellar combos. Although there might not be a whole lot of variety in the combos, there is an ability that if you get a bar filled to the max by pressing the L1 button, you will basically open up this Bullet Time sort of action that is called your Kamui. Now what this does is it slows down time and allows you to basically take out every enemy on screen by hitting a sequence of buttons. The system is probably one of the more entertaining portions of the game and comes in handy later on in the game.
I have to say that the game really tries to combine this pretty deep storyline with this very fast paced action, and for the most part you can see that the developers were truly on the right track with this whole game. Some of the best aspects of the game are in the boss fights, which are not only challenging but are very different and keep the game fresh. However there is one problem that this game has and that is its length. For a full price game you can expect your game to be completed in less than ten hours. That is just inexcusable, and to be quite frank should never have happened. The game is much too short to really warrant the praise that the game would have had if it was longer. The game had a rhythm going and although it did need a bit more variety. Had the game been longer, I am sure the developers could have thought up plenty more ideas.
The presentation of Genji is one of the more impressive portions of the game, especially when you go to the game’s cinematic, which are truly remarkable. The developers did a great job portraying the story and really made some of the best cut scenes I have seen this year. The developers also did a fantastic job with the environments, which are lush with detail and truly portray a very unique and colorful sense of the ancient times.
The character models I thought were great, but in my opinion were missing some extra detail that would have really helped them stand out more. Instead, they seemed a bit flushed out from the great looking environments. The game ran at a very smooth rate and there were no real frame rate issues to speak of. The overall presentation of Genji was solid, but I wouldn’t say the best the Playstation 2 has seen.
Genji is one of those games that you just wish you could have played more of, and there were times that the cut scenes just really interrupted the pacing of the game. I found that you have to be very patient with this game, and at times you are just going to get frustrated in the fact that the action will just get going and then you will find that a cut scene will come up. So although the cut scenes were gorgeous and the story was great, they did at times get in the way. The action in the game when you got to it was a lot of fun and the combo system was the reason why this all worked.
Genji: Dawn of a Samurai could have easily been a great game, had the pacing of the game been better and had there been more of actual gameplay. With that being said, I think with the length not being overly long with Genji, a rental would be the perfect choice for this game. Unfortunately I just can’t see a reason in spending the money for a game that lasts less then ten hours.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.