Koei Tecmo sure knows how to get the absolute most out of a historical period. The Dynasty Warriors games have told the same story for eight iterations, and fans of the musou genre still eat it up with each installment, because the gameplay is always solid and there is something cathartic about killing thousands of enemies in one battle, over and over and over again.
While Dynasty Warriors tells the tale of Chinese history, Koei Tecmo and developer Omega Force have given that same love to Japanese history — the Sengoku Period, particularly — with the Samurai Warriors series, now in its fourth iteration. For a game series that essentially hashes and rehashes the same time period, the very idea of a sequel to a numbered entry is silly, but leave it to KT and Omega Force to deliver yet another stellar game, chock full of features and characters and costumes and the musou lover in us all benefits the most from the outing.
In Samurai Warriors 4 II, we revisit the Japan during the Nobunaga Oda rise and fall, and the daimyo form of government that his life and death caused. Players are able to choose from one of 13 characters and follow their story to conclusion. The stories intertwine in different ways, and in certain character arcs, Nobunaga is alive and featured, in others, he’s already passed and Tokugawa rules Japan. Each story, when played, gives a unique perspective to the time period. Samurai Warriors 4 II also introduces a new character, Naomasa Ii.
New modes are available, including the Survival Mode, which tasks players to climb a mysterious castle, battling wave after wave of enemies. To be honest, I’m not sure there is an end, as it seems that the floors just keep coming. Within Survival mode, there is an option for standard play, or a challenge-based mode that gives the player a checklist of things to accomplish while clearing levels.
As with most of the KT Musou games, the game play remains basically the same. A player, or players (couch co-op and online co-op are both available) cuts through thousands of enemies as they seek out field captains and named characters to defeat to satisfy the objectives to win the chapter. XP, new weapons, and gold is earned on the battlefield and than can be used to upgrade the characters and the sub characters as they cut their way through the five chapters of their story. All unlocks also transfer over to Free Mode, allowing for players to just wipe out armies at will without worrying about story parameters.
Unfortunately, this is more of the same as in every other Koei Tecmo musou game, and the same period in history being played over and over does get tiresome after a while. One saving grace is that these KT musou games are still relatively new to this generation of powerful consoles, so it is fun and exciting to see so many enemies on screen at once, thanks to the higher processors of the new consoles. The HD graphics at 1080p and 60fps also make the game a visual treat as well. And personally, as a history buff with a concentration on Asian history, I eat these games up for their abject romanticism of the time periods. It’s fun — and sometimes silly — and always worth a play through, if for no other reason than to get some aggression out by slaughtering so many enemies in wave after wave.
Unlike the normal progression of a Xtreme Legends Edition, which adds the collected DLC and new costumes, and a brand new polish, Koei Tecmo opted go to with a direct sequel to Samurai Warriors 4, and the next game will be under the Empires sub-genre, which is always a fun time as it adds real time strategy elements.
Samurai Warriors 4 II is more of the same, and while that might not be a bad thing, it may not be for everybody. With Koei Tecmo’s release schedule, players are learning to wait for the Xtreme Editions of the numbered games to have access to all of the DLC, and the Empires subset, with its strategy elements mean that the numbered games — and their sequels — act as precursors to the versions that fans really want. It’s not to say that the games should be avoided until the newer updated versions hit, but it sure seems that way. For those that can’t wait, Samurai Warriors 4 II is a very solid entry in the long-running series and well worth the time to play, even if you’ve played it before.
Samurai Warriors 4 II is available now on the PlayStation 4. This review is based off a review code provided by Koei-Tecmo.
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