Samurai Warriors 4-II (PC) Review

By Ian Soltes 06.11.2015

Review for Samurai Warriors 4-II on PC

Straight from Koei Tecmo Games, the company that produced Hyrule Warriors, and is, potentially, the sole dominating force in the hack-and-slash genre, comes Samurai Warriors' first outing on the PC: Samurai Warriors 4-II. Is it fun and engaging, or a bland repetition of mashing the same attack button over and over again? Cubed3 finds out.

When it comes to history, the three periods that gamers are most familiar with are, in order, Medieval Europe, World War II, and the Japanese Sengoku period. While the first two are obvious as to why they are so well known, the third is, oddly, something that likely would not be heard of outside of Japan were it not for the slow, but steady, stream of titles like Total War: Shogun 2. What does this have to do with Samurai Warriors 4-II? Well… Honestly, it makes playing the game feel a lot like returning to a good, old happy friend, but one who has remained the same for years. That isn't to say that this title is samey, just that the same thing that makes it good also makes it feel like so many other games that are also produced by Koei.

At its core, this is a fairly straightforward game. The player is placed on a battlefield consisting of warring armies full of fat, little bundles of EXP (also known as 'soldiers'), and allowed to wreak havoc as they rip through the foes to take down enemy officers and slowly win the battle, while tallying up kills that can easily exceed 1,000 in total. It's a simple formula that works very well.

Screenshot for Samurai Warriors 4-II on PC

Samurai Warriors 4-II actually offers quite a lot when it comes down to the combat, and, as such, the constant fighting makes it pretty solid. Battlefields are properly hectic, as, even on easy mode, rushing about from place to place to keep the multitude of enemies under control and completing the various objectives that pop up becomes quite the hectic experience. In order to help with this, two characters are allowed to be controlled at once, switched between with the press of a button, or orders given via the pause menu when wanting to focus on the one that is currently being controlled, but that doesn't change how fast and frantic things can end up.

In addition, the movesets are actually pretty solidly varied, with the characters having normal attacks that are best used against special soldiers and enemy commanders; hyper attacks, which are great for clearing out vast swaths of normal EXP bundles disguised as humans; special attacks that deal a lot of damage, but need to be charged up first; a special 'rage' mode; and a unique skill. Mixing all of them together is well done, and makes it so that the combat within is a great and enjoyable experience.

Likewise, the story is, astonishingly, decent for a title of this genre. When the majority of time in a game is spent rushing back and forth, a deep story is not expected, but Samurai Warriors 4-II actually manages to make a half-decent one. Spread out over a series of five-mission campaigns, with each one focusing on a small group of characters, it allows for an unexpected amount of focus on at least a noticeable chunk of the cast. While this does also mean that some of the cast either gets less time than they should or seem a bit tacked on, that so much focus could be provided at all is wonderful. That's not to mention that the characters are interesting, if a bit underdeveloped. Seeing things like a master and student develop a bond to the point of the master basically attempting a solo mission against an entire army to rescue his student is legitimately surprising for a game mostly focused on mass army combat.

Screenshot for Samurai Warriors 4-II on PC

To make it even better, each character gets its own special "upgrade" grid. Functioning in a manner similar to Final Fantasy X's Sphere Grid (well, Final Fantasy XII's License Board would be more accurate), each character is given a deep grid that is made of hexagonal tiles that are unlocked via spending various tomes found in missions. It seems straightforward at first, with the grids and upgrades varying between players, until it gets revealed that, by unlocking the tiles surrounding another tile, it is entirely possible to unlock said surrounded tile without spending any tomes! This is great, as it leads to a tactical aspect.

Then comes the downfall, and, sadly, it's a big one. First off, and greatest of all, is the fact that SW4-II has horrible slowdown problems. Even on easy mode, with only a few enemies surrounding the controlled character that will likely be quickly killed off, the game can slow down to a laggy crawl, as it tries to keep up on solid computers. It may even be outright unplayable on weaker machines, simply due to how laggy things can end up getting. Next up comes the fact that the dialogue is all in Japanese. While not normally an issue, when in the middle of a frantic battle against three enemy officers, seeing a dialogue box pop up and having to read it while in the middle of active combat to find out just what is going on is actually a pretty big problem.

Screenshot for Samurai Warriors 4-II on PC

Worst of all, however, is that it gets old. While it isn't shocking that the maps will become samey as the game moves on, the characters will, inevitably, start to feel like only minor varied versions of each other, and, with little more than a free mode and a special survival-style mode to keep it fresh, the lifespan of SW4-II is limited at best. A mayfly of enjoyment, to be certain.

That all said, there is a breath of life giving it an extension. Firstly, the game allows the player to select their own character. Picking from the various character styles that can be unlocked, as well as several generic weapon combat styles, users are allowed to sit down and create their own unique character by picking and adjusting the various parts.

Biggest of all is that SW4-II allows for online network play. Yes, picking the game up and playing with a friend, via local co-op or via the interwebs, is entirely possible! This means that, even once gameplay becomes repetitive, it can be livened up by having a friend to play alongside. Be warned, though; this is unquestionably best played with a controller over the keyboard.

Screenshot for Samurai Warriors 4-II on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Ultimately, Samurai Warriors 4-II has the biggest shortcoming of coming out in a genre that's already saturated by Koei's other series, such as Dynasty Warriors and Warriors Orochi. It's quite easy to find other similar titles, and there is no reason beyond a love for the Sengoku period to play this over others. Putting that aside and judging the game on its merit, it's a bright flash of enjoyment that simply won't last for long once the main campaign is completed, due to a lack of alternate features. Having a friend can certainly prolong the enjoyment, but its downfall is almost certain in the end.

Developer

Omega Force

Publisher

Koei Tecmo

Genre

Brawler

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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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