You know the feeling; you’re tired of gritty realism, you’ve had enough of well told stories and you grow weary of beautifully rendered top of the range graphics; what you want now is an ugly, repetitive and lazily ported game about Samurai. Step in Samurai Warriors 2!
As a well-trained and experienced games journalist (stop laughing at the back) I can spot lazy console ports a mile away, in the dark, with my eyes closed. My Journo-sense™ was tingling after this was finally announced on PC in the UK after a mere 2 year wait! If you were holding your breath for that release when it came out on Xbox360 and PS2 in 2006 then you’ll almost certainly have broken a world record my now! In those long two years whilst your lungs were crying out for air, you’d expect the game to have been polished to a mirror shine ready for its adoring PC fans. You will, of course, be disappointed.
The game defaults to running in a window and fails miserably to attain any resolution native to today’s modern screens. When you set the resolution to its maximum of 1280x1024 and restart the game it stubbornly resets itself back to the default; if you can change the resolution at all that is. For having the audacity to have my Xbox360 controller plugged in the game would crash when I reached the options screen - and don’t even think about trying to actually play it with that controller. The game detects the Z axis incorrectly so it constantly interferes with anything you’re trying to do, like selecting characters, moving around or killing hordes of identikit bad guys. Did I mention the identikit bad guys? Oh, I see that I did, in cunning segue into slating the game design is. I’m a genius!*
The gameplay is about as deep as the shallow end of the Cornish gene pool**, a typical level has you running around for the best part of half an hour, hitting many, many hundreds of irate, identical evildoers, whilst inane and often irrelevant dialogue is warbled at you by oddly enthusiastic voice actors until you come across a boss character. Boss characters stand around equally dumbfounded as their identical clone brethren yet take significantly longer to be beaten down. Upon your heroic victory over this foe you’re treated to a short video of them, none the worse for wear, taunting you. It’s important to interject at this point that my character was a petite Japanese girl armed, hilariously, with a cup and ball - I’m certain that the defeated characters have no right to smugness when this is considered (for the record I have added 1 point to the score for using a cup and ball as a weapon). Despite all this I was actually having fun at one point; it was genuinely funny beating down an entire army with a cup and ball. That was until I finished the level and the game crashed whilst trying to save my progress.
Action hack-n-slash semi-RPGs are ten a penny already and with no new ideas, a lazy console port or a 2-year-old game is hardly going to set the PC world on fire. With even a passable attempt at a real conversion, Samurai Warriors 2 could have proved to be an entertaining diversion with Cup and Ball Antics™ (something I expect to see a great deal more of in the coming years, you mark my words.) As it is, the developers have brought only shame to the PC and I see no possible option for them but hara-kiri.
*He isn't, but may be a gene-ius.
**Dan is from Cornwall, all of him, even his genes.