Another year, another Koei Tecmo feudal beat ’em up installment. This time, the royal Japanese warriors have joined forces once again to mash it out in Samurai Warriors 4. Longtime fans of the series have a pretty clear idea of what this fourth main sequel entails – smashing the opposition with flashy special attacks and racking up the body count. Series developer Omega Force knows its hack and slash games are a mindless but always entertaining time. They’ve set out to add even more cool wrinkles to the formula while still maintaining the frenetic pace this series is known for.
Samurai Warriors 4’s intense gameplay is split up into a fine mix of modes. The Story Mode offers players medium length campaigns that focus on particular characters and alliances. There’s a lot of playable tales to be had here as you discover the trials and tribulations of the game’s many characters. For history buffs and fans who have been following the series plot thus far, these fun plotlines offer up a bite-sized overview of the Warring States era. And as always, the game’s Free Mode gives you the option to take your favorite characters into any completed stage you desire. The formula here remains the same, but is still as fun as it’s ever been.
The best mode has to be the game’s Chronicle Mode. Instead of running into battle with the huge roster of playable character you gradually unlock, you create one of your own. As you complete varying missions that have differing end goals, you’ll interact with the important generals that command you. This personal journey feels more involving and driven by your own actions, thanks to the choices given to you. You’ll have the option to expand your army of soldiers and even take on mission straight from your superior officer. The wealth of customizable items makes growing your character in this mode even more of a pleasure to play through.
The gameplay seen in this latest sequel is all too familiar, but still a blast to play through. Continually slashing up hundreds of soldiers, adding new combos to your move list, collecting dozens upon dozens of stat boosting items, and going crazy with Hyper and Rage Attacks are still the bulk of the experience. Longtime fans will still love what’s offered here. The repetition felt from smashing the square and triangle button for entire missions can still be grating for newcomers. The game looks and sounds even better on its introduction to the PS4. It’s just disappointing that the overall mechanics of the game exhibit that “been there, done that” feeling.
Samurai Warriors 4 does more of the same, for better or worse. The Story and Chronicles modes keep things from getting too stale, though. If you’ve loved these games up until this point, you already know what you’re getting into. Newcomers who find themselves getting bored quickly with all the hacking and slashing won’t have their mind changed with this sequel. Everyone else will still enjoy the Warring States beatdowns present here.
Images: Koei Tecmo, Omega Force