Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams PS2 Review

Usually you would expect people to be sad when a country is set to be overrun by evil demons but we as gamers have come to understand that this occurrence means yet another addition is being added to the long running series of Onimusha games. This time Capcom boasts that the game has been redesigned from the ground up and tells a story that took place 15 years after the original trilogy. So what makes saving medieval Japan from a demonic curse so great this time? Let’s find out shall we…

Samanosuke, Samanosuke, Sammmmmmanosuke??!?!?

As I said in the opening, the game takes place around 15 years after the events of the original trilogy and as you may have guessed (or probably already know if you have been reading up on the game) this means that many of the characters from previous efforts do not appear in the game. The biggest name missing from the lineup is of course the infamous Samanosuke. Some may look upon the exclusion of Samanosuke as a mistake of Raiden-like proportions but it is actually a blessing in disguise as the game can now live up to its name. Dawn of Dreams is a full on rebirth of the Onimusha series with a brand new story (which I won’t deluge as I know people hate reading spoilers), brand new protagonists and brand new hordes of enemies for them to take on. Most importantly Capcom have introduced some brand new gameplay mechanics to give this new title that extra little kick.

I’ll Be There For You

The first of these new extras is the Allies System which is a welcome addition as it makes controlling, ordering and switching between the 5 characters a breeze. At most times throughout the game another character will be fighting along side you on screen which will be computer controlled but able to be influenced by you. You can issue the character commands via the d-pad. “Follow and attack”, All Out Attack”, “Wait And Recover” and other instructions can all be shouted in you partners direction and most times they will listen to you and do what you say. I say most times because there are a few bugs which you can hit during the game which will cause your character to act funny; with the “Wait And Recover” being the biggest offender as your character will not automatically attack someone again after being told to do this even if he is being slapped around the face with someone’s sword. These bugs far from ruin the game as they only rear their head less than a dozen times throughout the 15+ hours of the main quest.

Likes To Play With Samurai Sword

Anyone that has played an Onimusha game before knows that the game is all about action and DoD does not disappoint as it throws masses of enemies at you straight from the word go. It also should be pointed out that each of the playable characters all have their own different fighting styles and are not just clones of each other. All the characters have a vast collection of weapons to choose from (much, much more than any of the other Onimusha games). They also have different attributes and unique moves to set them apart. When the game does decided throw a puzzle at you there is usually a logical way to solve it and none of them should stump you that much and leave you staring at the scream muttering “WTF??” There are also cooperative AI puzzles in the games as well. All in all, the fighting, levelling up and teamwork mechanic are a joy to play, leading to a fantastic gaming experience across the two discs the game is contained on.

I Can See Clearly Now

Graphically the game looks great and there are huge changes and improvements to be seen from previous efforts. The biggest change is that those damned fixed camera angles which were in every level of DoD’s predecessors have now been cut back on considerably. The game now contains a full 360° camera which can be spun around to get the best possible vantage point to banish your foes. There are only a few selected parts in DoD that use a fixed camera and they only seem to pop up when they are actually needed and where a rotateable camera would only be a hindrance to gameplay.

Cutscenes also seem to have been given an upgrade and look much better than before. Even though the game contains many different characters, all the animations look smooth and nothing looks overly jerky. The environments can range from good to “oh my god wow” types of spectacular, there is also a nice selection of them so you won’t get bored looking at the same thing for 15 hours. If played in English the lip-syncing can be very noticeably off at times (a Japanese-language track is also available for those that find it annoying) the bad lip-syncing is disappointing but is not a deal-breaker by any means. The soundtrack is fantastic with a great epic score to rival big name movies encompassing the whole course of your adventure. There really is some fantastic composing to be heard over the course of the game. The hacking and slashing of weapons all sound just as good with nothing sounding out of place. The game also supports Dolby Pro-Logic II sound systems which makes all of the above that bit better.

Overall

Dawn of Dream will definitely exceed most people’s expectation of what to expect from the Onimusha series. It throws in many of the good ideas from the older games, tosses out the ones that didn’t work to well and adds some brand new stuff to try out. Over all DoD is an exciting package. If you never played an Onimusha game before, then this is a great place to start as no previous knowledge of the other games is needed to appreciate the story. A big name PlayStation magazine recently said that “Black is the last great game on the PS2” well it has not taken long for them to be proved wrong as it is quite easy for us to say that this is the best Onimusha game to come out of the doors of Capcom since the series’ conception. A must buy for fans of the genre and one of the best games ever to grace a PlayStation branded console.

[i]Hidden Extra: You may have noticed the “Player 1-2” statement over there on the right and thought “but it’s for 1 player only.” I am happy to tell you that you would be wrong if you thought this as there’s a hidden multiplayer mode that you can access in DoD. When the title screen appears, hold down the L1 and R2 buttons on both controllers. While continuing to hold those buttons down, press Start on controller 2. A noise will confirm that you did it correctly. When you start the game, two people can play at once. The camera can go a bit wonky in this mode but it is still fun to mess about with two players.
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9.4 out of 10

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