Samurai Warriors 4 II – Never change a running system

There are so many “Warriors”-games out there that new people almost certainly get confused about it. But not the title of those games is the same. You could say, all they change are the characters and the story of them, but that would be a bit harsh. But on the other side, there are a lot of similarities. Really a lot. But then why are there still new games coming out, while there are already so many released. Well, because this game concept is working.

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To explain the basic concept of the “Warriors”-games. Each level is a battlefield, where two big armies fight on. You are on one side and have to defeat the other army, by taking out their generals and defeat their soldiers. If you fight against generals, it’s more or less just another fighting-game. But here is the thing: There are hundreds of soldiers running around, all of them can attack and be attacked. These soldiers are not a threat on their own, but it’s the mass of a giant unit attacking you, plus a general, that creates the challenge. And it is challenging indeed!
But the challenge of killing a thousand soldiers in one level creates also the biggest fun. With each attack of yours, a dozen enemies are smashed against the ground, a well timed combo can strike 100 men and the special attacks, which are ridiculously over the top, sometimes clear the whole battlefield in front of you. That’s the concept, the overpowered player against a huge number of weak enemies, begging to be fought with pure epicness. And the fanbase of this genre is big enough to make new games every year.

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Now I have explained a basic gameplay of those games, which includes Samurai Warriors 4 II. The “II”, because this is a revised version. If you have played the first ‘part’ before, you have to rethink quite a bit, since this game is actually much more balanced than its predecessor. Meaning noticeably stronger generals on Normal difficulty (they are actually using their skills now!) and a much shorter duration for the beforehand completely overpowered buff you get at 1.000 K.O.s – which gives you a massive boost on ALL character stats and partially lasted for minutes in Samurai Warriors 4. I am focussing on this game now, since this should be a review about one game and not the franchise, but most of the features are somehow in the other games as well, including even some of the older SW games.
In Samurai Warriors 4 II you have a campaign and certain “surival” or “free” gamemodes, where you can pick any character you want and play whatever you want. The campaign focuses on the war between the old Samurai-clans in the feudal Japan. A cool thing is, that the clans, the regions and a few characters are actually historical personalities. Tokugawa ieyasu and Hattori Hanzo, to name two. I am not really into old Japan history, but the years of the battles might be correct as well. So you have the correct time, characters and battlefields from the old times, but of course with lots of more action. I am pretty sure, Hattori Hanzo wasn’t able to clone and teleport himself.
The cutscenes between levels are either conversations or render-action. Both are only in japanese (with subtitles), but good voiced (and translated). The story itself is pretty basic, one time you have the ambitious young man, who want to be the ultimate fighter but still has to learn about companionship, one time you have a romance between former rivals. Entertaining, but don’t expect deep story, with thoughtful background and dramatic plot twists. Plus, there are not only one, but lots of smaller stories told, which makes it even harder to create an interesting plot.
But these games are not about story, they are about gameplay. And Samurai Warriors is fun. And actually challenging. Running over the battlefield and killing weak soldiers is just fun but easy, but completing all the missions in one level, like “protecting someone” or “stop an enemy from reaching xy”, is really difficult sometimes and I have to admit, I died more times than I expected. Never unfair though, I always knew what i did wrong, changed it and after a few times I succeeded.
After a few rounds you use more and more of the options on the battlefield. You can command allies to important positions, help them, clear strategic spots for your army, if you actually want to complete all missions possible, you have to use all your possibilities, especially on the harder difficulties. It’s a “easy to learn, hard to master”-concept.

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And then we have the level system for the characters. And that is something you have to play for a very long time. Just unlocking and upgrading everything for just one character takes so much time. And this game doesn’t have one character, it has 56. And you don’t stop with upgrading, you can collect weapons, each of them upgradable to level 50 … getting 100% in this game is almost impossible. Because if you would do that, you would probably miss a few years and a few generations of the “Warriors”-games.
Samurai Warriors 4 II also has a multiplayer. So either via splitscreen or online, a friend plays your companion, who is controlled by AI in singleplayer. Nothing really changes, you can simply play the campaign and the other gamemodes together.
For those, who are not happy with over 50 characters can create their own. In the character editor we can change the basics (hair, face, height, etc.), the armor and weapons. The weapons of course determine the playstyle.
Samurai Warriors 4 II and the “Warriors”-games in general have a big fanbase, but you really have to like the concept to have fun here, because to be honest, it’s always the same, even with tons of different characters. I like the concept and really had fun playing it, even though I am sure I won’t unlock everything. It’s just too much time you have to spend and I think when I have to play this game that long, I wouldn’t enjoy it anymore. And I wouldn’t want that. This game is for playing every once in a while. An enjoyable time-killer. People who need such a game should check on of the “Warriors”games, fans of the franchise should be happy with this game, people who want a complex story and more variety look elsewhere.

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