Bev Chen
08 Nov, 2010

Sengoku Basara Samurai Heroes Review

PS3 Review | Aiming for mediocrity.
Japanese history is a funny thing. After all, what else can inspire a wide range of titles, all from different genres and developers, and each with their own portrayals and retellings of Japanese warfare? Sengoku Basara might be one of the most popular of these. If the fact that the series has spawned a wide range of merchandise, an anime series and even its own 2D fighting game spin-off doesn’t convince you, then maybe the fact that it has been exported to the Western world will. Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes is actually the third game in the series; the first, known as Devil Kings in Europe and America, was a perfect example of a bad localisation. Thankfully, Capcom thought it wise this time to keep names and locations as they were in history. Samurai Heroes’ story will be confusing to players, regardless of whether they have played Devil Kings or not – a problem compounded by the fact that Sengoku Basara 2 never made it overseas. In fact, it may just be easier to ignore the story completely and take Samurai Heroes at face value; a button-mashing hack-and-slash game in which you take on enemies by the hundreds.

Players familiar with games such as Dynasty Warriors and Ninety Nine Nights will have a good idea of what to expect from Samurai Heroes, but there isn’t really much that the game does to stand out from its counterparts. Sure, Samurai Heroes has a huge range of playable characters with awesome moves and undeniably fabulous costumes, as well as a strange but welcome sense of humour, but other than that, it’s the same old deal. You hack, you slash, you have special moves. You can guard. You can jump. You can dodge. Nothing new here.

Thankfully, this guy is no longer known as ‘Scorpio’.

Thankfully, this guy is no longer known as ‘Scorpio’.
Samurai Heroes’ story mode is very comprehensive, allowing players to pick from sixteen characters, each with their own allegiances and motivations. Each character’s story is then divided up into stages representing the territory you are trying to seize, although most of them have the same objective of ‘Defeat Character’. Upon conquering a territory, you’ll find that the factions around you will have done the same, shifting control of which precincts they are in command of and forming new partnerships. However, there’s no real strategic element as to which battles you choose to fight before others as you’ll always end up fighting the same characters anyway, and the few ‘history altering’ decisions you do get to make end up being rather insignificant.

Each level you’ll fight your way through has different characteristics, and you may need to employ different techniques in order to reach the final boss. For example, one stage sees players defeating flood gate guards in order to flood the waterways to their advantage, while another requires you to defeat food storage commanders to prevent the stage’s bosses from eating to heal themselves. However, herein lies the problem; players can easily rush through a stage simply by killing gate guards or commanders. It doesn’t help that the majority of your opponents’ troops are too passive to be even considered a threat, preferring to follow you around the map rather than actually trying to kill you. Samurai Heroes only begins to pose a real challenge when you reach the bosses and even then, the difficulty seems to vary wildly. Most battles are still very easy (especially when you activate your super special attack), but some are just plain frustrating and seem to rely more on cheap tactics more than anything. What’s worse than that? Two bosses at a time that both use cheap tactics, of course. It’s not just bosses that utilise these tactics, though. If you have your doubts about the effectiveness of ranged weapons such as bows and firearms in a game where the emphasis is on flashy melee attacks, you needn’t worry. Weapons such as Magoichi’s shotgun are nothing short of unfair, even against the lousiest boss you find.

Lefty and Righty.

Lefty and Righty.
Samurai Heroes gives you the option to play co-operatively, which can even out the odds a little bit (or make it even easier, as the case may be). Playing alone though, you’ll have access to an AI-controlled companion who has special attributes, such as being able to do more damage to large enemies. Unfortunately, your companion’s AI is downright awful. You might see him dishing out a few hits to enemies of the common variety, but drag him into a boss battle with you and he will just pace aimlessly while leaving you to get smacked around. You’ll likely find more assistance in your ability to swap and equip the weapons and accessories you’ll earn as spoils during your battles, giving you various status changes and abilities. Earn various materials over the course of your conflicts and you will also be able to forge some of these accessories yourself.

At least you, my real-life friend, are much better at this!

At least you, my real-life friend, are much better at this!
For all its faults, one of the things that we found most impressive about Samurai Heroes was the fact that we never encountered any framerate issues. Moreover, the game’s graphics are quite pleasant and the character designers deserve to be applauded for creating such interesting and distinguishable main characters. The game’s audio components, on the other hand, are quite disappointing. The music is rather forgettable and the voice acting, while competent, doesn’t do much for the game’s corny script. It’s repetitive too; get used to hearing footsoldiers yelling about how they’ll quit drinking if you’ll let them live about five times per level.

All in all, if you’ve played a hack-and-slash, crowd-combat game, you’ve played Samurai Heroes. But if you’re looking for a mindless button-masher to kill a few hours with, this is certainly the newest and prettiest one to set your sights on. The game doesn’t do anything new for the genre, nor does it improve on most of the common problems most similar games suffer from. It certainly isn’t a terrible game by any means, but Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes feels more like Capcom is aiming for mediocrity rather than aiming for much greater things.
The Score
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes brings nothing new to the hack-and-slash table, nor does it improve on any of the genre’s typical features. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 years ago

Shame to hear this isn't that great, the anime is fucking brilliant.
3 years ago
3 years ago
Benza wrote

Shame to hear this isn't that great, the anime is **** brilliant.
Yeah? I had been meaning to check it out, but I was afraid it would be a little too derivative.

But if you're recommending it, it sounds like it's worth a try. icon_smile.gif
3 years ago
But if you're recommending it, it sounds like it's worth a try
The show is hilarious just for how much it thinks "Fuck it" and just treats the entire thing as fun. Date Massamune's horse has motorbike handle bars and exhaust pipes.

Oyakata instead of riding a horse stands astride a platform that's balanced on two horses. He storms a castle by standing on top of this platform as they ride up the vertical castle wall.
3 years ago
Not wrong, show's pretty damn funny in that way. Given it's been enough to have a second series of sorts announced, has to be good somewhere. Haven't watched it all though, I think it just covers the Devil Kings era and not the East VS West armies?

Maybe I just played Basara differently but I seem to find it completely different to all the other Warriors hack and slashes out there, given it's combo based and has multiple unique moves plus each character works differently (some can chain, some can airdash, some can cancel etc), which justifies the rather low character count compared to other titles (Warriors Sigma, over 100 lolwut?). Hard difficulty is also unforgiving if you're not careful.

Certainly agree with quite a few points though, I swear is the entire opposing army always drunk? icon_razz.gif Friendly AI is also absolutely horrible, although you can command them to attack with the taunt button mid combo so they attack and you don't taunt. That said, they don't really explain that well... anywhere. >_>
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Australian Release Date:
  15/08/2010 (Tentative)
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