My first reaction to receiving Samurai Warriors 4 was a huge sigh and a big fat “not again!”.
Why so? I hear you ask, well, it will be self explanatory as i write this review. Its been an impressive year for Omega Force with Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Edition, Warriors Orochi 3 and Hyrule Warriors, they have no doubt been busy. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Warriors series, Samurai Warriors 4 was created published by Koei Tecmo however its hard not to expect more of the same from the Warriors series. What i mean by this is the third person button mashing hack and slash gameplay we have seen many times before.
Set in the Sengoku Period of feudal Japan, as with other games in the series, where military conflict and warring factions pretty much rule the torn country. Players choose whichever faction they want consisting of characters corresponding to them with a total of 55 playable characters throughout the campaign. Some characters are relevant to the timeline in real life however there are a fair few inconsistencies which are less favorable to the historians among us but with the Japanese voice acting and shallow characters, you wont care much. As with most Warriors games, the cut scenes are impressive. The relationships between characters are impressively obvious even though their dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. Story mode is different than the previous games in the franchise as players choose a faction rather than a single character and the playable character differs as the story progresses.
The age old game play mechanics are fully intact here. Players control two of the characters from a third person perspective as they run around a dynamic battlefield separated into different areas. You only control one at a time however the other can be “tagged” in whenever needed. The battlefields are littered with enemies although they are no real challenge until you encounter bosses and captains highlighted by their names above their heads with their health bar. Each of the 55 characters have a standard strong and light attack which can be strung together to make some very impressive looking combos. Also at your disposal is the returning Musou attack and the new Hyper attack. This is a crowd controlling move which is also really powerful and stylish looking and really satisfying to pull off although it does nothing to ramp up the stale game play. Same can be said about the new Rage mode which, once activated, enhances the power of the players attacks and their Musou attack. Rage mode is extremely helpful for getting out of a sticky situation or finishing off that boss you are having a hard time taking out although the longevity of Rage mode is limited to a special gauge displayed below your characters health. It doesn’t take long to fill this bar thankfully making another bout of Rage never too far away which makes things easier.
Aside from the campaign, Chronicle mode is available which requires you to play as a created character which, to start off with, is extremely limited however more armour, clothing and weapons are unlocked as you progress. With your character, you take missions from Generals which are just stages similar to those seen in Story mode however with certain special requirements that need to be met to succeed. Its a breath of fresh air if you want to come away from storylines and plots and more into levelling up and that satisfying sense of progression. It starts off easy but the difficulty gets higher at a nice pace.
Samurai Warriors 4 holds the same high standard in graphics seen previously in other Warriors games. I played this on a PlayStation 4 and i was never disappointed with the visuals throughout the entire game. Each character looks nice and sharp with their own particular set of colourful armour giving each character a different feel. The heavy numbers littering the often beautiful landscapes means that most bosses and key enemies get lost among them although this isnt that much of an issue. Cut scenes are brilliantly acted out and animated and each of the characters look amazing up close.
The Warriors mechanics are starting to show their age. The third person hack and slashing still works however there are just too many previous entries in the series that have done it so yet another game does nothing but make my eyes roll. Lets see some real improvements in these games such as a fully open world or a more interactive story or just stop altogether.
Story - 3/5
Graphics - 4/5
Gameplay - 3/5
Overall - 3/5
Version reviewed - PlayStation 4