22 Apr, 2003

Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny Review

PS2 Review | Capcom comes up with a very polished and entertaining game, that is twice as fun as its prequel.
Evil is dead, or so it seems. Oda Nobunaga, an individual capable of great destruction, has had his soul taken over by evil forces and now runs rampant, spreading his wrath across every town he meets along with his hordes of demonic soldiers. When the valiant warrior Jubei Yagyu of the Yagyu clan notices that his home village has been destroyed by Nobunaga’s forces, he vows to stop the demon forces once and for all, and our story begins here.

It’s Alive!!

Recently it was announced that Onimusha 3, the third part to the legendary Onimusha trilogy, would feature non-rendered backgrounds, meaning that Onimusha 2 would be the last in the series to have ultra-realistic pre-rendered backgrounds. This is one of the things that make Onimusha 2 so great, because, the backgrounds are simply stunning - there simply is no other way to describe them. Any player will be amazed at the detail Capcom can put into every scene with such minimal loading times and so much action also happening on screen. What deserves special mention is the water effects, which in a few scenes in the game will have you mistaken for real water.

The in-game graphics are also well above average, as many types of demons are created with a very polished look to them, and every blow from your mighty weapon is complemented with its share of blood. As if all this was not enough, prepare to be absolutely blown away by the FMV cut scenes. The cut scenes in this game are very much on par with the best in the business. It is simply mind-blowing to realise how much work went into the graphical presentation of this game. In-game cut scenes are also executed smoothly, and both voices and lip-syncing seem to have been no problem for the development team. Overall, a very pleasing effort by Capcom in graphical terms.

Every good game has to have a good soundtrack as well to complement it, and Onimusha 2 certainly passes in this area. The finely-orchestrated soundtrack, which is typical of the Onimusha series, returns better than ever in this game. The music in every scene perfectly matches the mood (dark, most of the time) and adds greatly to the experience. Also, as said before, almost everything in the soundtrack is instrumental and orchestrated - but this is only an advantage for a game of this type and genre.

Soul Searching

Another aspect of what makes this game so great is the very deep weapon/armour system, which is very easy to navigate. When you slay a demon (there are many, many ways to do this) you must ‘suck up’ the demon’s soul through your hand (a cut scene explains how you have acquired this ability). There are many different types of souls - yellow heals your life, blue heals magic power and normal coloured souls are added to your ‘soul meter’. You may then use the souls collected in your meter to level up your weapons and armour through ‘magic mirrors’, which also serve as save points - a very creative and well-planned system that works well in this sort of game. Also, collecting five purple orbs allow you to transform into a demon-type creature, which will give you enhanced abilities, strength and soul-collecting power - similar to ‘devil trigger’ as seen in the Devil May Cry series.

In addition to the simple hack-and-slash combos with the square button, you can now acquire special documents with list new moves that you can perform with your weapon. Also, pressing down and square together results in a thrust kick which allows you to distance yourself from enemies. Once the enemy is downed but not dead, you can walk up to it and press square, and you will thrust your weapon into the enemy, killing it with ease.

In order to make the sequel a little more interesting, Capcom have introduced a ‘gift’ system into Onimusha 2. In addition to collecting normal items such as herbs and medicines, you can now collect special ‘gift items’ which can only be given to certain people you come across in the game. You see these four people regularly, and the more gifts and friendliness you show to one person, the more he or she will come to your aid in battle. There is Ekei who wields a huge spiked-tip pole, Oyu who is a swift female ninja, Takajo the male ninja who uses stealth in battle to his advantage, and Magoichi who is very adept with rifles and useful with backup fire. This system makes you want to explore your surroundings for gifts you might use, and makes you decide which gift would be appropriate for which person. In addition, every gift you give is rewarded as they give you something in exchange for your gift, often a useful item or another gift for someone else.

The great puzzles, also typical of the Onimusha series, have returned. There are many different types you will encounter, one involving some addition of numbers and another involving the player reassembling rows of tiles to complete a shape. The puzzles get more challenging as the game progresses, and some near the end really require a great deal of logic.

Fun, But For How Long?

If this game fell short in one area, it would most probably be lasting appeal. However, this could most probably have been expected, since fans of the original Onimusha would know that the game was considerably short. The first time through will probably take an average gamer around ten hours, but the gift system will make players most probably return for another playing through.

However, this game is certainly great fun while it lasts. It is addictive, creative, and simply downright entertaining. You will not want to put your controller down until you have gone through a large portion of the game each time you play it. A great adventure for all, and it will last a long time, provided you’re keen enough to play it a few times to fully explore the potential of the gift system.
The Score
A very polished game overall, and even though it is a bit short, it still stays true to the Onimusha series in every other area. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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