Developer: Koei Tecmo Games
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games
Release Date: September 29th, 2015
Platform: PC [Reviewed], PS4, PS3, PS Vita
Samurai Warriors 4-II is the reincarnation of the widely successful Samurai Warriors 4 from Koei Tecmo Games (Dead or Alive V, Dynasty Warriors 8). Based out of Japan, Koei Tecmo is generally known for producing games for Sony’s consoles, but has begun porting their games for PC gamers to enjoy.
In the past, Koei Tecmo’s games have been a mixed bag on PC, with framerate and resolution caps, and finicky controls. However, Koei Tecmo’s latest attempt with Samurai Warriors 4-II proves that they have learned from their past errors.
The title boasts a total of 13 separate stories, each with their own unique arc. Like many Japanese games, each of these stories are incredibly complex, often resembling what seems like a story out of a history textbook. While my brain can’t fully wrap around the incredibly intricate paths each of these stories takes, there is plenty for lore junkies to sink their teeth into.
The story of the game is not just a copy and paste act either. While Samurai Warriors 4 had more comprehensive and overarching storylines, Samurai Warriors 4-II spends more time on the individual paths of each of the characters, instead of trying to unite the map from the original game.
Samurai Warriors 4-II is a very familiar playthrough for anyone who has indulged previously in a Koei Tecmo title. Featuring huge maps in story mode, players run around switching between a primary and secondary character, and abolishing massive waves of enemies. There’s a nice balance between a hack-and-slash style game and a fighting game that makes playing through Samurai Warriors 4-II an absolute blast.
Despite the seemingly redundant gameplay, I was never bored slicing through the hundreds of enemies onscreen at any given point. The ability to be placed in the middle of a mob of perpetrators and performing an awe-inspiring attack, with dazzling colors and shapes flying onto the screen, never felt stale. Knowing I was only a few button presses away from doing an attack I could only dream of pulling off in other games, often racking combos in the thousands, was incredibly satisfying.
The game features two modes: Story Mode, where players can take on each of the 13 story arcs, and Survival Mode, where fighters are placed on smaller maps in order to fight through levels of enemies increasing in difficulty, unlocking special bonuses for reaching new high scores.
Both of these modes offer an insane amount of content for prospective purchasers to sink their teeth into. Every story is fully fleshed out and seems alive and breathing, and there is just something all too satisfying about beating your high score.
There is also a Free Mode where players can choose any unlocked story level and play through it with their choice of character.
Also satisfying is the impressive upgrade options and character roster that Samurai Warriors 4-II includes. Each of the over 50 characters has their own separate skill tree and weapon unlocks that can be purchased through the shop or picked up during gameplay. This is in addition to mounts that are shared between the characters which give the ability to ride horses into combat.
I love the insane amount of things to unlock within this game. I always had a sense that I owned a character when I would be able to upgrade them as much as I desired.
Even furthermore, players can create their own characters to use on the battlefield. The character creation aspect of Samurai Warriors 4-II is incredibly in depth, allowing a sense of customization only matched by games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Not only can characters be aesthetically altered, but also mechanically altered. Gameplay parameters are included in the customization options, allowing players to fine tune their creations to fit their play style.
Perhaps the most attractive features for much of the PC community for Samurai Warriors 4-II are the fully featured graphical options. The game has an unlocked framerate and a maximum resolution for 1920×1080 (sorry, 4K gamers). This makes for an amazingly fluid experience that not only plays like butter, but looks beautiful in the process. While the graphics may not be as feature rich as some other games on PC, this is definitely a step in the right direction for Koei Tecmo.
While the attacks and characters are incredibly detailed, the environments seemed to fall by the wayside during development. There isn’t much to differentiate each level, and some of the textures just looked plain and bland. Granted, there is a lot happening on screen at any given moment in this game, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was playing through the same level at some points.
One major drawback of Samurai Warriors 4-II is its controls. The game is nearly impossible to play without a controller, and the tutorial only provides the action instead of the key or button to perform the action. For example, the tutorial may say to press the jump key to jump instead of telling me what the jump key actually is. It is incredibly frustrating to constantly have to revert back to the key-bindings page in order to see how to actually control the game.
While most of it can be figured out on a controller, the lack of explanation really holds players back from becoming better at the game. There were many times I had to close out of the game simply because I was too annoyed to look up another key-binding. Koei Tecmo has taken a step with the unrestrained framerate and resolution options, but this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
Another drawback that has plagued Koei Tecmo games is the absurdly priced DLC. Samurai Warriors 4-II already has 10 pieces of DLC, with some coming out to $29.99. There is a ton of content in the game to play through, and it is nice to see Koei Tecmo keeping their games up to date, but the prices for some of the additions to Samurai Warriors 4-II are outrageous.
Despite this, I had more fun with Samurai Warriors 4-II then I’ve had with a game in a long time. No matter what situation I was in, I always felt like I was tapping into an unseen power and being able to harness it, something I normally can’t have the opportunity to experience in other titles. In addition, there is a huge wealth of content, promising hundreds of hours of hack-and-slashing gameplay.
However, Koei Tecmo has not reached perfection yet, and some of the sins of previous titles are still showing their teeth in Samurai Warriors 4-II. The disregard for explanation of controls and the highly priced DLC make the game look like a lazy port, a title that the game is not deserving of.
The Bottom Line
Koei Tecmo really did a great job with Samurai Warriors 4-II. While the game isn’t a perfect port, it still is a stellar one. Not only is the port well executed, but the game is just phenomenal from the ground up, providing an unmatched depth that isn’t often experienced on PC. For $49.99, players will not be disappointed in picking up Samurai Warriors 4-II.