It seems like every year we get one game from Koei that comes with the tag Empires. Now how Empires usually differentiate themselves from just a standard Dynasty Warriors game or Samurai Warriors game is in the strategy element, which comes into full force in these titles. Today we are checking out Samurai Warriors 2 Empires for the Xbox 360, a game that hopes to expand upon the work it did with Samurai Warriors 2, and add some extra strategy into the mix. How does this end up turning out for Koei and Samurai Warriors 2 Empires? Read our full review to find out!
To say that Samurai Warriors 2 Empires is a game that is coming with a lot of pre-conceived notions is probably an understatement. There is this constant chatter around gamers that just love to pick on the Dynasty and Samurai Warriors franchise, as somehow each and every year they come out with more and more of these games that are relatively the same game with very little changed, and still sell. In fact, Koei Games other franchise, Dynasty Warriors has had a little more of a history of being the same old experience done over and over again.
There are three specific stages that you will go through before any mission which makes Empires an easy game to break down. You first have the strategy portion of the game this is where the most depth and the most confusion will come to play. If you have not played an Empires title in the past then there is going to be some seriously learning involved that will take a good amount of time and patience to understand. It is here that you will be raising money and making other interesting decisions that will significantly effect the next few stages of the Empires experience.
Following what is considered the strategy portion of the plan of attack, which basically is a point in the game where you look at the combat map and figure out your best plan of attack. Most of the time my method of trail and error seemed to work, but there definitely was some rhyme to the strategy of the game. And finally once you have everything mapped out and your finances are all aligned, you can then go to the battlefield and let your plan go to action. This idea of strategy and combat has been done unsuccessfully countless number of times throughout gaming, and Koei has been one of the leading forces into trying to find a better way.
Unfortunately after all of this great strategy, the combat in the game seems as flat as an ironing board. Did you plan Samurai Warriors 2? Well take the typical Samurai Warriors gameplay, dumb it down a bit, and that is the combat in Samurai Warriors 2 Empires. What happens when you put this strategy in the game is you have less emphasis on the combat, which then in turn makes the combat less important than it very well could have been. Much of the fighting on the Normal setting is done with literally ¾ of the soldiers standing around watching themselves get slaughtered. I don’t know about you, but when I am fighting someone, I would rather they fought back, otherwise its not really a fight.
Continuing on our discussion of the combat in Samurai Warriors 2 Empires, I should say that after all the time you spend getting everything setup, the mere fact that the gameplay is still condensed into a few buttons in which you will mash for hours and hours does make the experience a little bit less of an experience, and more of a chore. The combat should be the part that you look forward to getting to once you have all of the strategy ready to go, however in Samurai Warriors 2 Empires that is not the case.
Even after my problems with the gameplay, I still can’t go at a full assault on the game, as it still has the elements in place that make it enjoyable. The gameplay itself isn’t broken; it is more that the gameplay for this series and Koei’s other series have remained so similar each time, that it is hard but not to be frustrated that nothing is moving us forward. Samurai Warriors 2 Empires has a lot of great strategy, that unfortunately needed more backing from the combat side of the game.
One of the areas that Koei has been consistently successful in doing is making their games consistently good. This continues in Samurai Warriors 2 Empires for the Xbox 360, which still has some really sophisticated environments that manage to give a good deal of detail and variety from location to location. The character models however have always shined the brightest, as they provide such a lavish and well thought out costume set that really standout in any of the battlefields. In the end, this isn’t going to win any awards for its visuals, but it has enough to keep you satisfied.
As I mentioned, the game is really broken down into three different portions, and it is just too bad that the final stage, probably the most important for any Koei game, the combat just didn’t live up to snuff. On any game I think it should be required that the computer AI actually defend themselves or at least fight. If they walk around like zombies then it makes them a lot less interesting to take out. Koei has been on the right track before with the Empires franchise and seems to be continuing this, unfortunately too much of the game still needed work.
It’s always a shame when you see the potential in a game like what I see in Samurai Warriors 2 Empires for the Xbox 360 and still see it struggle. There is so much that they could do with a series like this, and its just too bad they haven’t got all of the pieces together. If you are a big fan of the franchise, you may want to spend the big bucks to check it out. Otherwise a rental is sufficient.
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