Courtesy of GameMethod
As one of a number of titles briefly shown at Sony Computer Entertainment’s pre-E3 Press Conference last year, “Genji 2” was somewhat lost in a sea of original concepts and triple-A franchises slated to hit PlayStation 3. Ironically, the action game play of “Genji 2”, set far back in the early feudal days of Japan, does much to embody the next-generation of gameplay as any of Sony Computer Entertainment’s new properties. “Genji 2” not only improves upon the original game in both presentation and gameplay, but promises to be one of our most anticipated titles for the launch of PlayStation 3.
“Genji 2” begins three years after the events of “Genji: Dawn of the Samurai.” Despite having defeated the Heike Clan, Yoshitsune is once again faced with a demonic uprising. Differing from the original, “Genji 2” actually recreates battles significant in Japanese history such as the naval battle of Dannoura and the Battle of Ichinotani. Through the course of the game, you’ll follow Yoshitsune in his quest to vanquish the Heike and their demonic allies; fortunately, he doesn’t have to do it alone. “Genji 2” expands with a total of four playable characters including Yoshitsune and Benkei. The remaining two characters are being kept under wraps for the purpose of preserving the surprise of the narrative.
Unlike the first game in which switching between characters was essentially optional, “Genji 2” not only encourages playing as each of the characters, but often requires it. Pressing left on the directional pad enables you to switch characters on-the-fly, even mid-battle. The result is the ability to utilize each character’s unique abilities to defeat difficult enemies; moreover, you can pull off incredible combination attack by switching characters and linking their attacks. In one of the two levels we played, “Battle at Ichinotani,” switching between Yoshitsune and Benkei was necessary in confronting a devilish crab. After dispatching twenty Heike samurai, the massive demonic crab assaults Yoshitsune; however, his attacks are useless against its thick shell. By switching to Benkei, you can knock the crab on its back and then switch back to Yoshitsune for a few quick hits.
“Genji 2” is also more open-ended in allowing you freedom to tactically engage enemies. In the second level we played, the “Burning Gates of Suzaku,” Yoshitsune comes to face armored demon wielding a massive katana. Using Yoshitsune, you can maneuver behind the demon to hit the demonic shard that is its weak spot; however, you can also use Benkei’s brute strength to knock the demon’s armor off and then hit his bare body. From what we played, it seems clear that “Genji 2” involves a bit of tactical thinking mixed in with its quick-paced combat.
Combat mechanics in “Genji 2“ are largely imported from the original game. Pressing the square button executes a basic attack, while the triangle button triggers a dash attack. Different combinations of the square, triangle, and movement with the left analog stick will yield a variety of attacks. For example, pressing triangle, then L3, and triangle once again issues a corkscrew attack. Of course, if you’re in danger of taking damage, R1 enables blocking. The relative lack of depth in the combat system of the first game is being address in “Genji 2“ with plenty of ways in which to unleash unique attack on enemies.
Also returning in “Genji 2” is the kamui system. By defeating enemies, characters receiving kamui orbs which fill up the kamui bar at the top of the screen. Once this bar is filled, pressing L1 unleashes kamui power. Just like the first game, you’ll dispatch enemies by tapping a button on the controller as shown on the screen. If you’re able to time the button presses correctly, you’ll create a string of kills. Since increasing your hit counter multiplies the amount of currency you receive from combat, utilizing kamui is good for dealing with groups of enemies.
Visually, “Genji 2” is astounding. The improvement over “Genji: Dawn of the Samurai is not just clear, it’s jarring. In the mission “The Burning Gates of Suzaku,” the fire is rendered convincingly and light from the fire reflects off of the walls, objects, and characters dynamically. Complementing the visual flare of the game are obstacles in game that are visually integrated into the level design. For example, Yoshitune must run through a burning house in the same level; however, pieces of the house are will fall on him and cause damage if you don’t walk slowly and block. Design elements like these, as well as the improvements to the combat system and lengthened gameplay are poised to actualize the potential of the first game in “Genji 2.” Slated for release day and date of the PlayStation 3 launch, we’re eagerly awaiting to get our hands on the entirity of “Genji 2.”