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Jeremy Jastrzab
01 Mar, 2006

Onimusha 3: Demon Siege Review

PS2 Review | Before the Dawn, came the Siege.
Starting off as a Resident Evil, the samurai and demon action series known as Onimusha has come quite a way in this generation. So far in fact, that a fourth title is not far away from a PAL release. But before the Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, the epic battle between Samanosuke Akeichi and Nobunaga Oda was still taking it’s course. As with most games that eventually get to a third title, Onimusha 3: Demon Siege takes the successful formula to a new place with numerous additions, enhancements and changes.

It was thought that Nobunaga was defeated at the hands of Jubei Yagyu (in Onimusha 2) but this wasn’t the case. With reinforcements coming to his aid, Nobunaga stood to continue his conquering ways. After what seemed a lengthy absence, Samanosuke reappears on the face of the planet and sets off for the final confrontation. Within the first few minutes of the game, you get Nobunaga’s throne room, only for a black portal to open up and suck you way. From 1582, Samanosuke ends up in 2004 France of all places. Here he finds that the Genma have overtaken this area as well. At the same time, Jacques Blanc from modern day France, one minute finds himself battling mysterious demons then another portal sucks him into historical Japan.

When he gets a spare moment, he can check out the tourist attractions

When he gets a spare moment, he can check out the tourist attractions
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As we progress, we find that Jacques is chosen by the Oni clan to help with the fight against the Genma. In their respective conundrums, each of these fellows needs to battle their way through demon and monster to find their ways back home and defeat Nobunaga once and for all. The story is an interesting departure from the other games in the series and has some neat opportunities opened up by it, especially why they have ended up in France of all places. However, as with any medium that plays with the concept of time, there are a few inconsistencies. They can be a bit confusing early on but the story is quite grand in its scope and can be quite entertaining.

In the previous two titles, the gameplay was akin to the old-style Resident Evil games, complete with pre-rendered backgrounds and “tank” movement. That is, you character could only move forward and they turned at wide angle. To an extent, it was suitable for simulating the movements of a samurai but it did have several occasions where you were in compromising positions. Not only does Onimusha 3 get the full 3-D treatment but analog movement as well. The tank movement is still there on the d-pad but you don’t have to use it.

You’ll be playing as both Samanosuke and Jacques – consistently switching between one another. Samanosuke plays pretty much like he did in the first game and like Jubei from the second game. By no means is this a bad thing but he does get a couple of odd weapons. They’re not really traditional by any stretch but they do at least feel different from previous weapons. However, they all have the same underlying way of playing. Where as Samanosuke plays with swords, Jacques gets a whip as his primary weapon. It opens up a few new gameplay possibilities. Other than the usual four-hit combo, charging the weapon will allow you to grab the opponent and if they are light enough, toss them. Outside of battle, the whip can be used to get to usually unreachable places with the help from the “Oni-bugs”.

Fundamentally, both players are pretty much the same. And despite their obvious differences, the fundamental search, slash and proceed gameplay of previous Onimusha games is intact. Thankfully, there isn’t as much backtracking and many more new environments and locations. Players now have a little Oni assistant known as Ako. Resembling Tinkerbell, this small fairy-like being comes in handy for finding and picking up items along the way. You can also collect “vests” for her that can change things such as showing enemy HP or allowing you to heal while standing still.

Jacques shows why the French men are such fiery lovers

Jacques shows why the French men are such fiery lovers
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There’s a lot to like about the Onimusha experience and Onimusha 3: Demon Siege maximises this. In there is just enough in between the battling and the progressing to keep the experience fresh and interesting. The mechanic of soul collection works just as well here as it ever has. It’s added the right balance to the game, where you need to souls to progress and just mowing your way through enemies won’t work. The time aspect is played out very well, with a few levels half-way through the game that require you to switch between characters to solve a greater puzzle. However, there is one portion of the game that doesn’t quite add up.

Combat has been primarily fought from close quarters and in tight spaces. However, it seems that the floor space has been opened up a lot to help accommodate the analog movement. A lot of the enemies seem to have been boosted with significant strength and speed upgrades. To combat, it pretty much the same as it has been before – except it feels like the player movements have been slowed down a bit. For the first half of the game, this is totally acceptable but once you hit the back end, the difficulty spikes upward simply because there are too many enemies that are too fast at once. Add in a slow block and generally questionable balance at this stage and it does become frustrating. While this Onimusha is by far the most generous in terms of healing ailments, the challenge that it provides is not always the one that you’d want.

This issue doesn’t debilitate the game in any way but it does raise a few question marks. Especially the chance nature of getting critical (Issen) hits, they can only be really achieved through pure luck or absolutely godly skill. However, Onimusha 3: Demon Siege is still the most complete and most fleshed out title of the series. The main adventure is a solid 10-15 hours and there are a fair few goodies unlocked at the end that may encourage some to take the trip again.

Hardly the time for Rock Paper Scissors

Hardly the time for Rock Paper Scissors
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The production values of the game are obviously very high. From the opening CG and through out the game, it is obvious how much effort has been put in. While in game, there are a couple of instances where a little bit of a lapse has occurred, in general, the technical and unique artistic aspects look damn good. Both Samanosuke and Jacques resemble their real-life counterparts (Takeshi Kaneshiro and Jean Reno) fantastically. Despite being nearly two years old, they hold up as some of the most solid on the PS2. Sound-wise, the voicing is little dodgy at the start when you’ve got French speaking people having a difficulty understand English speaking samurai from 1582 but once a method of “translation” is introduced, things go well from there. The music is well orchestrated and the sounds are faithful to the series. The whole presentation of the game is very good in general.

Onimusha 3: Demon Siege is a well produced and entertaining conclusion to one side of a much bigger story. There are enough additions and changes to make the experience greater than it’s predecessors and enough variety in between to keep it fresh throughout. The combat is solid if begging for an update as well and the playtime is a comfortable for this kind of game. The time aspect is pretty cool as is slaughtering demons with a samurai and Jean Reno. In the end, Onimusha 3: Demon Siege is the best title in the series to date.
The Score
Onimusha 3: Demon Siege is a great conclusion to this part of the story and a great experience in general. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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6 Comments
8 years ago
8.0 only? I personally give this game a 9
8 years ago
Do yourself a favour and learn the critical hits. There is a training mode available for both criticals ("just" block then attack, and counter attack), use it, and it'll mean that lots of enemies will be no problem. There is no chance nature to "just" block then attack, but occassionally a counter attack will happen by accident if you are surrounded.
I'm surprised the reviewer only mentioned the critical hits in passing and said "they can only be really achieved through pure luck or absolutely godly skill," and calling the game unbalanced because of this? Anyone can practise the move and learn it, but the reviewer chose not to and struggled toward the end as a result. Critical attacks are the meat of the game. The story, characters, and everything else the review focued on is just a thin premise for a great combat system.

Also you should save most of your healing items for the final battle. You won't need them for 90% of the game, but if you're the type of person who expects the game to let you get by when you're wasting resources, you won't finish it. Its like how in resident evil you're not supposed to kill every zombie, because then you'll run out of bullets when you really need them.
8 years ago
The reviewer happens to have played and finished all Onimusha titles to date.

The reason why I call the system unbalanced is because it - at times - feels like it's stuck between trying to be a hack-and-slash and it's own combat system. The original onimusha was played primarily in close quarters and was mainly against a couple of enemies. It wasn't until you got around halfway through this game, that notion of systematically beating your enemies is somewhat lost as the game simply tries to bury you under hoards of stronger and faster enemies. You can't tell me that the sequence where Jaques, Samanosuke and the Oni Army are storming Azuchi castle isn't a blatant hack-and-slash scenario. You can get through it, but the system isn't designed to handle this as well as it could. If the controls hadn't been implemented to analog, the game would've been a hell of a lot more difficult.

As for the criticals, it may be possible to learn them but through out the three games, I only ever got them through luck. Admitedly, I got a lot more in number 3 than in the others. However, the successful learning of criticals will only apply to some players because the nature of learning it is not as intuitive as, say the counter that Link has in Wind Waker.

Like I said, these aren't debilitating issues. But after three games, they do get a little annoying.

Still, number four comes out later this month so it will be nice to see how it goes.
8 years ago
ultracrazy1 wrote:

Quote
Its like how in resident evil you're not supposed to kill every zombie
Man i wish someone told me that BEFORE i went zombie hunting.I couldn't stand the idea of some zombie skulking around like he owns the place.I capped everyone one of em.Then got frustrated when i ran out of bullets.Then played civ 4.
8 years ago
[quote="Jibbs"]ultracrazy1 wrote:

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Its like how in resident evil you're not supposed to kill every zombie
*Starts up a complete new discussion* I kill all, because it just don't feel right if there's one was one left alive.
8 years ago
Jeremy wrote
The reason why I call the system unbalanced is because it - at times - feels like it's stuck between trying to be a hack-and-slash and it's own combat system.
I'm not sure what you mean. I don't find the combat stuck between 2 systems, its got a good mix of standard hits, magic, and criticals. Standard hits are easy to do but easily punished. Magic gives you brief invinsiblily but you can't constantly abuse it because it depleats a gauge. And criticals are hard to do but give instant kills (or shed the enemy's armour). To me thats a very balanced way to go about it.

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The original onimusha was played primarily in close quarters and was mainly against a couple of enemies. It wasn't until you got around halfway through this game, that notion of systematically beating your enemies is somewhat lost as the game simply tries to bury you under hoards of stronger and faster enemies.
Well all the enemies in Onimusha 1 are in 2 and 3 (iirc) so it makes sense to progressly add more enemies that have more random patterns and are a bit tougher. There's still a systematic approach to going through part 3, and if you're surrounded there are useful dodge moves by locking on with R1 and tapping back, left or right.
Adding more difficulty doesn't unbalance the game, it just makes it more difficult. The odds against you have to be raised for the victory to be satisfying, and I think Capcom's done a great job in that respect. As long as you learn to exploit enemies' weaknesses you can handle say, 3 or 4 of the bigger guys at once, and it makes for a much better game than surrounding you by "dumb" enemies which plauges so many games these days.
Anyway, if you're absolutely sure you're going to get hit, thats when you use magic as it makes you invinsible. Then as the enemies are stunned you have ample opportunity to get into a better position.

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You can't tell me that the sequence where Jaques, Samanosuke and the Oni Army are storming Azuchi castle isn't a blatant hack-and-slash scenario. You can get through it, but the system isn't designed to handle this as well as it could. If the controls hadn't been implemented to analog, the game would've been a hell of a lot more difficult.
I found in that scenario there were so many enemies that critical counters were going off every other hit. I think it was just a scene where you're supposed to feel all-powerful to psyche you up for the big fight after that. Are you saying you would've prefered the entire game to be similar to that instance? Because I'd say that would be an extreme cake-walk.

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]As for the criticals, it may be possible to learn them but through out the three games, I only ever got them through luck. Admitedly, I got a lot more in number 3 than in the others. However, the successful learning of criticals will only apply to some players because the nature of learning it is not as intuitive as, say the counter that Link has in Wind Waker.
I don't think "not as intuitive" is an appropriate comment. The timing is strict, but learnable. Have you played any games like KOF with just defense, or cvs2, even soul calibur 3 has implemented "just" counters which give you more time to attack. Its also similar to the parry system in SF3 (as far as timing goes). If you stuff it you guard, if you succeed you get an instant kill. Its a great gameplay mechanic that I would actually call intuitive for the kind of gamer who's familiar with "just" moves from other games.
The counter system in windwaker is just there because it looks nice icon_rolleyes.gif Its not exactly hard to get by without it. To me that means its a fairly useless addon that was implemented nowhere near as well as onimusha's counter system. Tougher to execute, but far more rewarding, and a valuable skill to learn.

Check the gamespot video review. They say pretty much what I say, that they are tough but you can learn them. I took the time and managed to pass most of the tutorials on every difficulty (though I never managed to chain multiple criticals or get the 10 hit combo). I think if you tell your readers that they are left up to chance or godly skill, some of them may not even try. You really don't want that to happen because learning them makes the game that much more fun.

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Like I said, these aren't debilitating issues. But after three games, they do get a little annoying.
What exactly do you find annoying? I'm not sure what your problem with the combat is in onimusha 3 beyond "it gets a bit tough when you're surrounded." As it should imo, we don't want to have our hand held ala zelda with every game do we?

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Still, number four comes out later this month so it will be nice to see how it goes.
I've heard the 4th game is around 30 hours O_o and a good place to start for newcomers. I've heard talk that its not going to be as difficult, but I'm sure they'll add a hard mode or something. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on dawn of dreams.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Capcom Entertainment
Developer:
  Capcom Entertainment
Players:
  1

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