Warriors Orochi 2 is the 876123458764th installment in the KOEI franchise of Warriors games (I had to). Much like the last game I reviewed, Samurai Warriors 2: Empires, the Orochi series has been unfortunately lumped in with the repetitive stereotype the other Warriors games have succumbed to. This was my first plunge into the Orochi side of things, and I was optimistic with my approach. I was pleasantly surprised from what I found within the game. The Musou attacks are new and fresh, there’s a plethora of unique and personable officers to use in-game and the game offers 5 different story modes, all centering around a common theme. Even though the plot of Warriors Orochi 2 is perhaps the least important part of the experience, I will remain “spoiler free” as always.
This score might actually surprise some people. Unlike the previous iteration of the KOEI franchise I played, the graphics in WO2 are actually pretty decent. There is an extreme increase in the amount of detail put into each playable character, helping their individual personalities to emerge farther as a result. WO2 also offers additional costumes for each officer, allowing their general appearance to vary slightly. The generic enemies are still, well generic to put it bluntly. I think I need to suck it up and realize that this isn’t going to change anytime soon. I guess I could understand that creating a different face for each of the hundreds of enemies on-screen at once would be frame rate suicide. Either way, the character designs in WO2 is leaps and bounds better than some of its predecessors.
Perhaps my favorite upgrade made to the game would be the visual effects during officer Musou attacks. They just looked incredibly badass. Each of them were different, and gave the officers more of a sense of individuality. Instead of not giving a crap which character I used to slay thousands of peons, I now felt proudly obligated to go for the officers with cooler Musou abilities; definitely a serious ramp up from older titles.
My biggest complaints with the game’s graphics were the use of pre-rendered cutscenes. NOT ENOUGH OF THEM! I’ve always seemed to enjoy the somewhat cheesy cutscenes these games have to offer. DW7 was a great example of using cutscenes to expand the story to its fullest. There are moments of text and still pictures present throughout each campaign, but if it was nothing but cutscenes I would’ve been ecstatic. Just as long as I could skip over them if I wanted . Sure, the still pictures were nice, and constructed very well…. but I would’ve preferred something a little more elaborate. Hence the reason why the graphics/visuals score is slightly lower than I initially wanted it to be.
As usual, there isn’t much of a story in Warriors Orochi 2. As per the first title, Orochi had been defeated and peace was restored to the land. Of course, there was no way it could stay that way. Push comes to shove and the various dynasties around China/Japan begin violent confrontations. Throughout the entirety of the plot, you begin to find out that the once peaceful land is once again filled with Chaos, leading back to the unfortunate resurrection of a more powerful, Orochi X. Ok, I know I said I wouldn’t throw out any spoilers, but it’s a “Warriors” game, you’re probably not playing it for the groundbreaking storylines.
There are some aspects of the plot I liked, and some that quite bored me. Let’s start off with the good points. WO2 offers 5 separate campaigns to take the reins of; Shu, Wei, Wu, Samurai and Orochi. This allows gamers to control all of their favorite officer characters in different sub-scenarios. I most enjoyed the Orochi campaign, despite the Wei Dynasty being my favorite regime. Having the opportunity to control the main reckless antagonist from the rest of the storylines was pretty cool. You don’t see a ton of games take that approach these days, and I think it gives the game more flexibility. The part I didn’t like was that the other 4 campaigns seemed all too similar. From what I read about it, fans seem to say it didn’t really differ from the first game in the series. All campaigns have 8 missions, but they seemed rather cookie cutter, and the overall outcome was pretty much the same. It’s a minor complaint, but I hope to see more story improvement in WO3.
Of course, the area where WO2 shines the brightest is gameplay. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the Empires games, and I tend to have a little more hype built for the regular installments. If this is your first time playing a “Warriors” game, this section should be prefaced by saying this; Dynasty Warriors style games are 3rd person action battles centered around destroying thousands of tiny foes with one or a few overpowered officers. Some people have regarded these titles as repetitive, so it’s important that you know what you’re getting into beforehand.
The game offers 5 different play modes; Story, Dream, Free, VS and Survival modes. Story mode is pretty standard, allowing you to learn the motives behind each character and follow them through their journey of conquest and peace restoration. Dream mode scenarios, unlocked from completing various prerequisites, put gamers in a specific scenario with a predetermined party to play as. Some of them are pretty cool, like controlling Zhang Fei and others to wreak absolute havoc on your enemies. Others seem to stretch on with countless waves of reinforcements, most of the time for no valid reason. Gamers will really begin to develop a “love it or hate it” mentality with these scenarios.
Free mode is just what it sounds like. It allows you to explore almost any scenario in the game, with virtual free roam of any officer you wish to mutilate enemies with. VS is as close to online multiplayer as you'll get with WO2, incorporating 4 different sub-modes to create the ultimate Warriors co op experience. I found this mode intriguing, but sad that it had to be local only...I wasn't able to get my wife to play. :( Rounding out the game’s modes is Survival, which is a unique throwback to the original Dynasty Warriors on the PS1, which for those who may not recall, was a 3D Fighter. Players will compete in fighting matches with 3 officers of their choosing, and fight through hordes of CPU teams until you are beaten. It was a pretty interesting addition to the game, and I found myself playing through it more than a few times (My record is 27!)
Throughout the game, you have the ability to use the experience earned in battle to further progress your characters’ levels and weapons. There is an interesting game mechanic that allows you to “fuse” weapons together, and attribute certain unique enchantments to them. Anything from elemental fusions to attack strength increases, can help you along your journey to power through the story modes and dream scenarios on “Chaos” Difficulty. Players can also collect treasures in the game by meeting certain mission-based objectives, which will allow you to uncover some of these abilities. There are cheevos associated with treasure collecting, so be sure to start hunting early!
I’m a sucker for the music in KOEI games. They all seem to orbit around the same common genre; rip roaring metal tracks with ear bending power chords intricately orchestrated within its instruments. WO2 is no exception to that blanket statement. The music gets you pumped and ready for intense, thumb-blistering hack and slash awesomeness. The voice acting is an improvement on many fronts, but still lacks superiority over the Japanese version. Most of the actors for the game are returning cast members, and that definitely helps out when trying to distinguish one officer from another.
One thing I really wish KOEI would abandon is the catch phrase a character spouts off when they defeat an enemy officer. Some of them are kind of cool, but most lack any purpose whatsoever, and get pretty fricking annoying. To give you a frame of reference, I can’t tell you how many times my wife threatened to throw a controller at me if she heard Guan Yu’s “Blue Dragon Strike!” one more time. It may seem funny to you, but she’s pretty terrifying when she’s serious! The same goes for the enemy officers. There’s only so many times I can hear, “Prepare To Taste My Steel” before I mute the television.
Sure, Warriors Orochi 2 could be played over and over until your thumbs fall off, but is there any reason to? I feel like I should add a new scoring category for “fun factor” based on KOEI games alone. Sure, they may lack in visual strength, and the story may fall short of others in depth and character development, but did you at least have fun playing it? “Warriors” games are some of those I can truly pop in at any time when a friend is over and have hours of mindless fun. My only complaint is the lack of an online co op feature. Playing DW7 online with my friends was a heck of a lot of fun, and I’d like to see that implemented into more of these games.
The achievements all seem rather easy to obtain on the surface, sporting a 1.57 ratio overall for the game. What people may fail to realize is the level of grinding that must be spent earning the full 1K. The last achievement alone could take you a few weeks of moderate playing to accomplish (Beat all story modes and dream scenarios on all difficulties). There are 27 in total, and you could expect to earn about 530 points just playing through each story mode and dream mode scenario once. One thing to keep in mind is to keep switching out your characters during the story once you’ve acquired all of their achievable abilities, to ensure you get the “Ability Level: ?” achievements as quick as possible. Overall, the achievements are generic and grind-heavy. Expect around 100 hours to complete.
Warriors Orochi 2 is unique blend of three different KOEI franchises, and it helps restore my faith in the “Warriors” series. Playing through it has enticed me to pick up WO1 and WO3 to add to my collection as well. If you’re not a fan of these type of games, I urge you to give this a try anyway, you may actually enjoy it. It’s a great hack and slash title!
Time To Complete: About 100 hours
Favorite Achievement: "Clear Orochi Storyline"
Hardest Achievement: "All Difficulties Cleared"