One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 04.09.2015

Review for One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 on PlayStation 4

One Piece is something of a cultural phenomenon - the current undisputed king of manga and anime in Japan, the series has been running since 1997 and has sold enough copies for creator Eiichiro Oda to receive a Guinness World Record for most printed comic series by one author. While there have been many videogame tie-ins released in Japan, not all have made it to the West. This latest incarnation of Omega Force's series of Kaizoku Musou or Pirate Warriors brings the series up to the most recent arc of the story in Japan and lets gamers play as some of the superb new characters. Can One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 capture the magic of the show, or will it be as disappointing as many of the other anime-based cash-ins?

Fans of Musou games and the first two titles of this series will feel right at home, indeed a little uncomfortably so to begin with, as it once again treads old ground covered by the first two, with many returning playable characters and identical levels featured. It's not much of a negative but, for those who have recently played the others, it can feel a little unnecessary again visiting the same areas and facing the same enemies. Unlike Pirate Warriors 2, which created a completely original tale, Pirate Warriors 3 stays true to the original yarn. The main story mode, "Legend Log," consists of 22 stages in total, each based on a major story arc from the original show. There are some amendments, with the arc being somewhat adapted and abridged, with this mostly consisting of the big bad of each season losing their flunkies and limiting the amount of enemies the Straw Hats have to face. Blackbeard's crew is reduced to just Burgess, CP9 is reduced to three members, and most disappointingly the Donquixote family is completely absent - a strange design choice considering the game cover and much of the promotional material is devoted to Dressrosa.

Dressrosa is the most recent arc in Japan, and at time of writing, the story is just wrapping up, so understandably the team could not include much of the Dressrosa story here, considering it was released in Japan back in March, so development would have been on-going while the story was in its infancy. Instead, the developer has concocted its own story for the Dressrosa arc and while it includes some of the major beats of the story, such as Ace's fruit being up for grabs and the appearances of two major characters in Fujitora and Sabo, it is missing some massive plot points and, worse, some spectacular characters, too. There's no Momonosuke or Kin'emon, both of whom are completely absent from Dressrosa and Punk Hazard in both FMVs and as characters in-game. There is no Koala or Hack to go with Sabo, no Tontatta, no Rebecca and Soldier and, as previously mentioned, there are no Donquioxte family members. It's very disappointing to see them completely absent; there are so many great and unique characters that would have been amazing to see.

Screenshot for One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 on PlayStation 4

Along with the main story mode, the title offers some extra modes for fans to get the most out of the experience. Dream Log creates a randomised set of islands, set out like nodes on a board, to progress through. Completing an island opens a path to the surrounding levels, and there are special boss islands here to unlock some of the best characters, plus random enemies can appear and move along the islands. Get to them in time and there is a chance to challenge them and unlock the character. Dream Log is a great accompaniment, perfect for those that want to just have fun with the game's mechanics without worrying about the story or FMVs. Finally, there is also Free Log mode, which allows any level that has been completed in the main story to be accessed here and played through with any unlocked characters.

In total there are 37 characters to play as and each feels very individual to play as. Real attention has been spent capturing the characters' movements and giving them fitting move sets. Sadly, of the 37 characters, only ten are new to play as: Caesar Clown, Doflamingo, Fujitora, Ivankov, Lucci, Magellan, Moriah, Sabo, Shanks, and Tashigi. On top of this, there are a few more newcomers, but only as enemies or supporting cast. This wide array, combined with the iconic locations and story arcs that work fantastically as individually stages, help One Piece lend itself perfectly to Musou style of action.

Screenshot for One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 on PlayStation 4

Once all the characters are unlocked, there's still plenty to do. To upgrade each one's statistics and abilities, special coins must be collected - a familiar return from the previous entries. Instead of equipping coins in a set combination for power ups, the coins now are expendable currency that are used to unlock abilities, for example, to level up Luffy's health five Luffy coins, two Buggy coins and two Mr 1 coins are needed for the first upgrade. These upgrades require more and rarer coins as they progress and coins can be acquired from farming levels and specific enemies or are rewarded by achieving set objectives within the Legend Log stages. There's a massive amount to collect and it adds a significant amount of playtime and replayability to the overall lifespan.

The core gameplay remains much the same as the previous two titles, using square and triangle to create combos, filling a meter to unleash a massive special ability that tears through the enemy ranks causing mass K.O.s all at once. The partner system introduced in Pirate Warriors 2 has been removed this time, however, being replaced with a new system entitled "Kizuna Rush." On each level, there is the assistance of support characters, each with a three-level "Kizuna Drive" bar which fills as enemies are defeated.As the bar reaches higher levels the support characters will add an extra attack to the end of a combo but most importantly when the drive is full they can be called in to perform a "Kizuna Rush". Once activated, this gives a limited time power-up and during a Kizuna Rush a massive combo attack can be performed, utilising up to three support players with the characters all performing their special move at once. These attacks are flashy and devastating, taking out hundreds of enemies at once and laying waste to boss health bars.

Screenshot for One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 on PlayStation 4

Omega Force's action title does a great job at recreating the characters and locations in 3D, with the PS4's "Toon Shading System" being the cause, and it very noticeable when compared to the same game on Vita and PS3. It is most impressive during the FMVs of the Legend mode, although sadly these good looking moments are not skippable… at all. For a game that focuses on replaying of levels as different folk, to be able to achieve all of the different objectives and to unlock all of the pirate coins it's quite a bad design decision. The unskippable movies include the opening FMV and even all of the FMVs in Free Log mode, and after a few replays, even the biggest One Piece fan will be getting sick of them. It does offer a good way to desensitise people to the heavily traumatic moments of the series, like the burning of Going Merry, at least, so they will stop bursting into tears along with the cast on-screen. The updated graphics are not the only reason to choose the PlayStation 4 version over other platforms. It looks superb running at full HD and 60fps and allows for more enemies on the screen at once, clocking in at a whopping 200.

Screenshot for One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

It's a great time to be an anime and manga fan... and a gamer, with Bandai Namco bringing some great licensed releases to the West, at long last. Although disappointing to see some major characters being absent, this is by far the best One Piece game out there. Tecmo Koei will be taking time off the series after this release so sadly it may be some time before we get Pirate Warriors 4 but at least it will give the source material time to introduce more characters and tell more stories.

Developer

Omega Force

Publisher

Bandai Namco

Genre

Brawler

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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