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Warriors Orochi 3 PS3 Review

KOEI has really been stepping its game[s] up. Long gone are the deplorable days of sheer repetition and recycling of character models, assets, and stages. In fact, the hack-and-slash experience that Dynasty/Samurai Warriors games have offered as of late have been more and more exceptional. Such is the case of Warriors Orochi 3, a mash-up that brings together the finest elements from both series in the most refined package to date. If you haven’t had the chance to play a Warriors Orochi title, there has never been a better time. In simpler terms, Warriors Orochi 3 delivers the finest Musou experience to date.

The very first detail you’ll notice upon having a go at Warriors Orochi 3 is the updated character models. Nearly everyone (save for a few characters) appears in their Sunday best, donning costumes from the latest installments (Dynasty Warriors 7 and Samurai Warriors 3, respectively). A number of new faces are included, most notably a wide array of guest characters such as Ryu Hayabusa and Ayane of Ninja Gaiden fame and Joan of Arc from Bladestorm. All have had graphical upscaling and look even sharper than before. Another graphical bonus is that pop-in has been reduced, albeit marginally. Anyone who has indulged in a Warriors title before will be more than happy with the increased amount of killing fodder onscreen.

Sporting nearly 130 characters, including just a few of the many guests mentioned above, WO3 leaves no shortage on character selection. From the superstars of European history to the famed mystics of Asian folklore, the game is bursting with character content. Fresh combat maneuvers such as sidestepping and spirit charges (a fancy term for cancelling one attack into another) bring a new, albeit thin, layer of strategy to the fray. Character adjustments have been made to make sure the returning cast are balanced. Obviously, with such a large roster, quite a few (if not all) warriors have abusable attack strings that clear crowds in a matter of seconds. But this is no problem for fans of the series, as racking up as many kills as humanly possible is the main attraction.

I wish I could say that the AI is more intelligent in this title than it is in previous iterations, but I’d be lying to you. Enemy soldiers will still circle you foolishly, begging to be cut down without so much as the slightest retaliation in return and the more prominent enemy officers seem to enjoy blocking sporadically. And before you ask, no, I’m not one of those journalists that write the game off as rubbish after burning through it on Easiest difficulty. Enemies in WO3 seem to be hapless on Hard difficulty and below. Anything above that, and things get very brutal. If you’re looking for a true challenge, the game will give you exactly what you’re looking for should you select an appropriate difficulty. For the purposes of this review, I played the title on Hard.

Another feature-based addition is the inclusion of a Bond system. Similar to bonds in Dynasty Warriors 7, these relationships allow you to have fellow members of your active trio assist you in battle autonomously. A new character Type has also been introduced. Dubbed Wonder, characters of this type are able to dash-cancel their attacks into other attacks at the cost of Musou gauge.

Speaking of Dynasty Warriors 7, WO3 takes a lot of cues from the title in a great way. For one, the story has been greatly improved over the previous two iterations. After the appearance of a mysterious seven-headed Hydra, you and your allies are tasked with travelling back in time to save fellow warriors from the grip of death in order to save the future. While it isn’t anything wildly innovative, it does a fantastic job of keeping you engaged for the duration of your playtime. Newcomers and veterans alike will be able to relate to the new plot.

As I mentioned earlier, graphics definitely received some much-needed upscaling. KOEI’s definitely on their way to where they need to be visually, but a few factors are still lacking. Environments received slight improvements, but seem lifeless despite the throngs of soldiers onscreen at any given moment. Terrain is under-detailed and bland, and walls of fortresses and castles could use some work. Stage elements aren’t downright horrid, but they’re missing a level of detail to match the finesse of officer designs, an issue that has been evident in the Warriors games since I can remember.

As opposed to the usual branch-styled storylines featured in WO and WO2, Warriors Orochi 3 opts for a single Story Mode that encompasses all characters. Through this Story Mode, you can purchase new weapons and items from various merchants at the Dynasty Warriors 7-styled Camp, hold conversations with officers in-between scenarios, connect with other players to enter the battlefields online, hold parties with Officers to build Bonds, and travel back in time to save fallen warriors. This Camp-centric Story Mode is one I very much adore, as it provides a more cohesive experience that keeps my attention more than the usual branching affairs. Completing Story Mode will net you one of multiple endings: Good, Bad, and True. While none of the three are surprisingly fantastic, they provide the necessary sense of closure for all of your hacking-and-slashing effort.

Another notable addition to the already content-filled package is the inclusion of Musou Battlefields. While Warriors Orochi 3 does not allow you to create your own custom characters as previous Warriors titles have, it does allow you to create your own battlefield scenarios. Options such as changing enemy troops, officers, and objectives are available as well as custom dialogue. An ‘Edit Points’ system is in place to keep things from getting too out of control, but it’s a little too limiting for my tastes. To make a long story short, my dream of making an army of 1000 Lu Bu’s was out of the question, but the mode is a cute diversion nonetheless.

Sound is exactly what you’d expect. An enthralling mix of heavy metal and synth-rock make for battle tunes that get you pumped to do some serious slaying. Remixes of popular character and stage themes from previous games are present, including a re-scoring of the fantastic soundtrack featured in Dynasty Warriors 6.

The last thing I’d like to mention in this review is the lack of an English voice option. KOEI has chosen to keep the audio-based dialogue totally Japanese for the entirety of the title. Things such as menu screens, subtitles, and in-game dialogue have been suitably translated, but anyone looking to play the game exclusively in English will find themselves disappointed. I, however, had no problem with it and enjoyed the game just fine. I was a little bummed that I couldn’t hear the fantastic (and rare) voice acting for a few of the good English actors, such as the voices of Nobunaga Oda and Cao Cao.

Warriors Orochi 3 is currently a representation of the series at its peak. Updated graphics, reduced pop-in, unparalleled content, and a nearly-bursting character roster make for a completely revamped experience that the previous titles couldn’t offer. Ever since Dynasty Warriors 7, I’ve praised KOEI for the direction in which its taking the Warriors series of games, and this installment encourages me to continue to do so. While it suffers from its fair share of repetition, this is undoubtedly one of the most complete and absolute hack-and-slash experiences you’ll find on the market.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m off to kill another 1100 or so enemy troops.

8 out of 10