- Developer/Publisher: Omega Force/Tecmo Koei
- Platforms: PC ($/€ 49.99, £ 39.99 on Steam), PS4 ($/€ 49.99), PS3 & PS Vita ($/€ 39.99)
- PS4 version tested. Review copy provided by publisher.
Do you like samurai? Do you like action games? Do you like feudal era Japan? Do you know who Nobunaga Oda is? If the answer to any of those questions is a yes, then there’s a high chance you’re either going to be loving Samurai Warriors 4-II, or you’ve already played Samurai Warriors. If your case is the latter, then you might be slightly disappointed by Samurai Warriors 4-II, but if it’s the former then you may have just found yourself a new game to love!
The fact of the matter is, for those who have already played Samurai Warriors, this game is incredibly similar to Samurai Warriors 4. There have been minor upgrades – enemy hoards are slightly more varied and detailed, with some unique enemy types we haven’t seen before. Animations and characters look sharper than ever too, yet feel just as satisfying to control and upgrade. But ultimately, this feels more like an expansion for Samurai Warriors 4 – you’ll find some of the exact same stages, some of the exact same characters, some new story scenarios, but ultimately not enough to differentiate the two games should you ever see them side by side.
For those not yet versed with Samurai Warriors, what you’ll find here is a fast-paced action game that’s not so much about strategy or defense as it tends to be about mashing two buttons so often that you get stuck into a rhythm that will win you a decisive victory and help you control Japan.
To break that down a bit, let’s start with the combat. You’re thrown into a large arena, with multiple paths and areas of control. The basic aim is to ruin your opponent’s troops by defeating them and fulfilling certain objectives, such as “lure the enemies into the choke point” or “defeat these enemies as quickly as possible”. Doing so lowers the enemy force’s morale, which directly links to their health bars, until finally whole platoons can be defeated with a single attack.
In typical Warriors style, you’ll be mashing a standard attack button, with your hyper attack button getting the odd flick at the end of combos, and vice versa. The standard attack button usually just makes your player character swing their oversized weapon around, with the hyper attack launching them headfirst into enemy troops, laying waste to them as they fly meters back off of your swings and slices. It’s a very simple battle system that’s easy to get to grips with, but offers additional bits of challenge for more adept players – such as hidden objectives and shield breaks. You have a Special and Musou gauge too – Special gauge letting you know how soon you’ll be able to let loose your powerful Special Attacks, and the Musou gauge allowing you to practically freeze time and let loose ridiculously overpowered attacks.
Unfortunately the combat doesn’t change up much – which will be what Musou veterans are expecting, but nonetheless it can get tiresome after your 5th 15 minute-long battle in a row.
Musou’s saving grace in my opinion is always the local multiplayer. Having a friend to share the experience with and strategize with (you take the enemies to the North – I’ll head down South!) makes everything feel that little bit less repetitive – but interestingly, split-screen performance in Samurai Warriors 4-II actually seems a little bit worse than it was in Samurai Warriors 4, with less enemies being visible on screen and enemy troops regularly disappearing and repeappearing in the stage – this stops being mildly frustrating and starts being incredibly frustrating when the enemy you’re targeting keeps disappearing because the game feels there are too many enemies on screen.
Another change from Samurai Warriors 4 to 4-II are Skills and upgrading them. Gone are items which can heal you or power up your attacks for a short period of time; now, you have Skills which can heal you or power up your attacks for a short period of time. You can now use the Skills more frequently than you ever could with items, and can of course upgrade them. Previously upgrading and levelling characters just gave them more moves to combo off of, but now you can also upgrade these Skills, making their effects more powerful or stay in effect for longer periods of time – a change which I greatly welcome!
It’s another Musou game, with a few upgrades. I have to say, it’s another game I really enjoy but it’s so similar to the game before I’m not sure I’d go out and buy it unless I’d not already played Samurai Warriors 4, or I was already ready for another dose of Musou.