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Onimusha 3: Demon Siege

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 2
Genre: Action
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: April 27, 2005 (US), July 9, 2005 (EU)


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PS2 Review - 'Onimusha 3: Demon Siege'

by Hank on May 29, 2004 @ 1:21 a.m. PDT

The stage is set at the burning Honnoji Temple, as the famous Onimusha warrior Samanosuke Akechi fights. As he faces the demons in front of him, Samanosuke is compelled to move forward by hatred for his true enemy, the undying Nobunaga Oda, ever pursuing his crazed ambition. Samanosuke prepares for the long-awaited final battle against Nobunaga.

Genre: Action
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: April 27, 2004

Buy 'ONIMUSHA 3: Demon Siege': PlayStation 2

“Attention, everyone! Class is now in session, and today’s topic is history.” You hear all of the “Awww”s and “Boo”s as students begin putting their heads on their desks, preparing to take a nap, but to their surprise, they see the professor rolling out a TV and connecting the PS2. Everyone looks up, wondering if there’s a screw loose in the professor’s head he begins loading Onimusha. Finally, the teacher announces, “Today’s topic is Japanese history: the life and story of Nobunaga Oda, the famed emperor reputed to be possessed by demons.” Don’t I wish that would happen in real life… but if you have a teacher who does that, introduce me. I’d love to take the class.

So why Onimusha? Well, this is Capcom’s representation of the battle against Nobunaga, using famous Japanese heroes Samanosuke Akechi (Onimusha) and Jubei Yagi (Onimusha 2) as their main characters in the fight against evil. This time, in the concluding chapter, they have returned to the original developers and the hero Samanosuke Akechi, but he can’t fight Nobunaga alone. He recruits the unwilling Jacques Blanc, a.k.a. Jay Reno, for the adventure. This entire scenario is all possible thanks to the demon’s top scientist, Gildenstern, who was researching time rifts and accidentally transported himself to the future. The year is 2004.

Before this time rift occurs, the story has one of the most impressive CG scenes, in which Robot shows off Samanosuke’s ninja skills. This is quite odd, because he is not known for these espionage/ninja missions – we all know him as a regular samurai. However, even with this discrepancy, you can’t help but fall in love with this trailer. This was the trailer that has been going around on the web, and if you haven’t seen it, I strongly suggest you do. Words cannot describe it. It starts off with Samanosuke infiltrating the tortoise airship, fighting off all of the enemies, and showing off his famous charge attack as he blows away all of the surrounding enemies. Eventually, after defeating the boss and escaping the tortoise airship, it cuts to Nobunaga saying, “Samanosuke Akechi.” And now your saga begins.

We then shift over to the initial siege on Honnou-ji Temple, Samanosuke reaches the final room and is on the verge of facing Nobunaga Oda, only to become trapped by a time portal that sends Samanosuke to the future. We then switch control from Samanosuke to Jacques, who is in France, fighting off monsters with his F90. These semi-automatics are a lot of fun to use, and you will truly enjoy Michelle’s section because of her diverse armament of guns that are capable of shooting long range (sniper rifle), short range (semi) and middle range (automatic shotgun) attacks. In this day and age, it is rare to see someone with bows and arrows, so Michelle isn’t equipped with those; rather, she has the ability to throw grenades. You won’t get to play her until later in the game, though; not like it’ll matter, since every character has his or her own perk. Enough ranting. Now, back to Jacques – after he defeats the first set of monsters, Samanosuke appears, and they are unable to communicate with one another because of the language difference. That bothers me, since it just doesn’t seem logical. If Capcom decided to keep the original French voice, why not keep Samanosuke’s Japanese voice, at least for the beginning? This is the year 2004. Most French know English, but I’m certain that not very many know Japanese. Also, this would only occur in the first section of the game, because Ako arrives later, giving both the ability to understand each other by reverting their languages to English. You may be wondering who Ako is. Well, she is a tenju (a creature resembling a fairy) who helps the characters find items on the map and grants the characters the ability to understand the language and speak it in their time. She is first introduced to Jacques when he is transported to the past. At the same time, he is also granted the same Oni power that Samanosuke was granted, but his weapon is a whip instead of a sword. Can we say Castlevania all over again?

Well even though the game does place a whip into Jay Reno’s hand rather than a gun, it is actually quite fun. One major reason is that Jacques does have a small handgun, one that can be used only for finishing moves and the grab. A finishing move occurs when the enemy is on the ground and you hit down to do a ground attack. Jacques will step on the monster, take out his pistol, and shoot them – usually killing them instantly. The other time you will see the pistol is when you have grabbed someone. You can hit square up to three times to shoot bullets into the character, or if you were like me, shoot them twice and then throw them. Because of its grappling ability, the game has a wider diversity, giving you the ability to grapple over to the other side of a cliff. This lends each map many more levels of play, but in turn, this is what replaces the jump option.

Though this may seem like a great addition, Samanosuke being granted Nitoh Ryu (two-sword style) is what sold me. When he has these equipped, he’s got some intense attack speed, but we know that we can’t have everything, and in this case we can see that although it is fast, it’s not nearly as powerful as the axe. The weapons not only differ in shape, size, and speed, but they also have a special power dwelling within them. They would have the power of wind, air, fire, earth, or ice. This is crucial to unlocking the elemental locked doors. Usually, these doors have a certain requirement of the weapon, and if you can’t reach it, you must go level up the sword. These level requirements are a limitation so that you don’t get massively owned on the level, and they are probably the easiest set of puzzles you will face.

If you remember the other Onimusha games, you’ll remember those dreaded padlock chests. Well, they’re back, and some of them are just as deadly as ever! For those of you who have never played Onimusha, these locks are just like sliding puzzles where you move pieces one square at a time, trying to slide them in the right order to make a picture. I’m certain most people can figure these out easily, but I had a hard time trying to break them. I really wish there were no move limitations. These may be the hardest puzzles; thankfully the required ones are a whole lot requiring you to memorize a certain number of items in a room, and some will ask you to find a key object before you can move on to the next level. Thankfully, the game is very straightforward and linear, so you can generally tell where to go next and where the key objects are hidden. Sometimes, though, you will need your partners (Jacques and Samanosuke) to help solve the puzzle. If you send Ako through the time transporter, you can obtain objects that your partners can only find in their own time periods. Just remember that whatever affects the past happens in the future, according to the time continuum theory.

Because of this time continuum, we have been granted the ability to observe France’s Arc, the Notre Dame Cathedral, Mount St. Michel, and the Eiffel Tower. I would have never thought to see these places in an Onimusha game, but the developers at Capcom sure can come up with some great ideas. As for the graphical representation of these places, I don’t really know how they went about drawing it up. I know they had cameras all over the place in the Getaway, making a true representation of London. In this one, I can only say that the places of interest are magnificently done, detailed to the extent that you can even consider it a picture from the time you went to visit. This is highly visible at the Arc, you can see the words on the side. I can’t really read what it says, but I do believe it’s the same as what is seen at the Arc today. Well, to complement these awesome representations, they have included inanimate objects that you can break. Within them, you may even find eco spirits, items that give Ako vests to wear and give you special stats, such as the ability to regenerate life when standing still or a higher probability of critical hits.

Criticals have always been around in every Onimusha, but in Onimusha 3, there is a new catch. There is a move called Critical Combo that is very hard to pull off, but if you can manage it, it’s quite impressive. You have to first land a critical on the enemy, and then you have to hit Square as soon as it connects. It’ll critical another character in the vicinity and continue until you miss or they block. It’s really amazing to see, but it does lag the Playstation 2 down a bit. Still, the dicing and splitting of the enemies when this occurs is just too great to watch. Surprisingly, even Michelle has criticals; it’s just wrong when you see a bullet dice up an enemy like that. When I say diced, I literally mean that the enemy gets split in half, squirting out red blood. For the parents out there, you can limit the violence of the game in the options menu by changing the violence level, and the blood can be changed to green. For you gamers out there, though, I tried the game with green blood, and this is all I can say: It just doesn’t WORK! Red blood is where it’s at. I may be enjoying the red blood a bit too much, but I just can’t get over it. While I may like the red blood, you may like the other aspects, such as the representation of water and its effects. This is something that even the best graphic artists are still having trouble implementing, but it is slowly becoming more realistic.

Realism seems to be a questionable issue here. It would seem that the important characters don’t tend to die, which is especially noticeable in the first scene where Michelle fights the monsters. I could 100% say she was shredded by the monsters, but I guess her skills of blocking with a gun are second to none. The unimportant characters tend to get killed in one hit, and I feel sorry for those tourists in France who got massacred. You can tell if someone is important or not by whether they die in a single hit. Of course, for some reason, bosses never want to die.

Boss battles are usually pretty tough, but after a little observation, you can see the pattern they execute. This makes it easier for you to beat them, especially if you want to critical them to death. Most of the time, the battles are one-on-one, with the exception of Gildenstern because of his lack of battle skills. He calls upon other enemies to do the fighting for him.

Luckily for us, we also have times when AI characters are fighting on our side, and for once, the AI isn’t as stupid as it used to be. They are extremely helpful, and they are actually capable of killing off the enemy. I personally love Michelle’s help because she stuns the enemy and can throw grenades, inflicting a lot of damage and allowing me to put in the finishing touches. Thankfully, during these times, your AI partner doesn’t have life or else you would be wasting so many healing potions on them. The reason they may be so helpful may be due to the new auto-targeting system which seems to work extremely well.

You will be using this auto-targeting system for fighting enemies on the ground, but it is also used for enemies in the air, as you’ll see with Samanosuke’s bow and arrow attacks. I think the major reason they have implemented this auto-targeting system is due to the fact that the game supports a katana: the Soul Katana, a peripheral created by Hori, a famous 3rd-party controller manufacturer in Japan. I did not get the chance to try this out, so sadly enough, I can only say that it exists and costs a handful (if you are in the States, we actually got this peripheral as well). Try it out if you ever get the chance.

Even though the katana maybe an extremely cool item to own, it’s not necessary since the games controls have been greatly improved. The characters react almost instantly to a slight tap of the controller, and the movement has been re-done to be screen-based, rather than simply having Up always move the character forward. Up will go towards the top of the screen, Down the bottom, and so on. To me, this is a very solid control set.

And to have these solid controls come together to create a solid game, you must also have an excellent soundtrack, and Capcom has come through once again, providing a track full of great instrumentals and music that fit well for the situation. For example, when in the cathedral, you have choir-type music, and in the big boss battles, you have the Italian mafia battle music. The sound is great, and for once, Capcom has chosen a pretty decent vocal cast (aside from the spirit that gives his powers to Jacques and Ako). Part of the game is dubbed in French, and the other half is English. Like I said, I really wished the first part was kept in Japanese and then changed over when Ako came in, but as Capcom states, it’s because of space issues. Even though I may be a little ticked about this, the game clearly makes up for it.

Overall, this game is really solid. Props for Capcom to finishing the series, or is it really over? The game’s graphics are truly amazing even though the in-game graphics aren’t on the same level as the CG, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish the two. Also, having a great soundtrack, vocal cast, and great replay value, this is definitely the way to go out with a bang. The game keeps the repetition to a minimum, mixing whips, swords, and guns into the Onimusha equation. I just couldn’t drop the controller until the very last minute before I had to go to class. And when you beat the game, you will unlock several mini games such as archery, Hihachi mini game, and maybe more. I strongly suggest you go out and buy this, but don’t just take my word for it. Go and try it first.

Score : 9.6 / 10

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