Let’s be honest – you probably already know if you’re going to enjoy this game. Since the PS2 era, the Dynasty Warriors games (and their various off-shoots, such as Samurai Warriors, Bladestorm, Dynasty Warriors Gundam, and the recent Hyrule Warriors) have formed one of the most polarising series for gamers. With the release of Dynasty Warriors 2 (Dynasty Warriors 1 was a rather forgettable fighting game on the PS1) an exciting new genre was defined: the genre of running around and button-mashing hordes of enemies into oblivion. While ofr a time this was exciting enough, gamers eventually became bored with it, and now the Koei Warriors series of games are a common butt of jokes in the gaming world due to the perception that they never change. So, the question is, does Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 on the DS do anything differently from its predecessors?
I must admit that I am a fan of these games. I lap them up willingly despite knowing full well that they’re all nearly exactly the same, with just a setting change and improvements in how far in the distance enemy character models are rendered with each new iteration in the series. The last release on the 3DS, the original Samurai Warriors Chronicles (number 2 was skipped for western release), was a fun game that impressed with its full Japanese voice acting and wide range of characters, but fell pretty flat in terms of graphics due to the limits of handheld console hardware. I remember many times when I’d be hit from behind by a seemingly invisible enemy, who had been able to attack me despite not yet being rendered. This is an element that has definitely improved in Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3: there are more enemies on-screen at any point in time for you to massacre. And while the graphics still aren’t the best-looking, the main character models are passable enough to not take you out of the hack-n-slash fun.
Speaking of character models, the massive variety of characters in this game is definitely an asset – although it does sometimes get to the point of when you have too much variety, you lose interest in bothering to customise a lot of the characters’ weapons and items since you’ll be using some of them so infrequently. What helps to counter this is that in the main Chronicles mode you can each play with up to four characters in a single scenario, usually selected based on their relevance to a particular battle in history. One of these four is the custom character that you make when starting the game, an d you can then switch between the other three at any point by selecting them on the touch screen. Additionally, you can give orders to the characters that you’re not currently controlling, so that they can target a particular enemy that isn’t worth you dealing with yourself, or so that they’re waiting in a specific spot ready for you to take control of them to complete some objective.
I n the main Chronicles mode you travel through Japanese history as your custom character, helping out in various famous battles (famous, presumably, to Japanese people – I know at least we never covered the Battle of Sekigahara in year 9 history class). In between battles there are segments where your character talks to a range of Japanese historical figures. These are often quite boring, with just some general rambling at you about how they want to see a land of peace, but need to kill some other dude who also wants to see a land of peace in order to achieve his vision of a land of peace. Occasionally you have to choose what to make your character say in response, and if you select the best option (e.g. “I also want to see a land of peace”) then you’ll become buddies with the character, powering them up the next time you use them in battle and unlocking optional extra battles. Alternatively, if you don’t have the patience to chat and re-chat with all these generals, you can pay to hold a tea ceremony, which you can then invite any generals to that you’d like to suck up to.
Challenge mode is a brand new addition to the series, and may be the thing that sways you to take the plunge if you already have the previous Samurai Warriors Chronicles game. In this mode you’re required to keep a timer going by completing various objectives, such as defeating certain enemy officers, or racking up a certain number of points. While there’s not much more meat to it than that, it’s a fun addition to the game, and the rewards you earn in it can be used help you progress the story mode.
The 3D compatibility is surprisingly good. When you turn on the system’s 3D, it gives cutscenes and battlefields some pretty nice-looking depth, and doesn’t seem to slow the game’s performance down at all. However, while only the 3DS version of the game was available to review, judging by screenshots the graphics on the PS Vita version look a lot nicer, so if you own that system my recommendation would tend to be to get it on there instead.
All in all, Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 is a fun game to waste some time on. While the series might not have a ton of depth, and while the home console Warriors games might be better graphically, this handheld game does a good job of giving you enough to keep you engaged throughout if you’re already a fan of the series. However, don’t expect it to win you over if you’re not already a fan!
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