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Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate

Platform(s): PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Omega Force
Release Date: Sept. 2, 2014 (US), Sept. 5, 2014 (EU)


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PS4 Review - 'Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Sept. 9, 2014 @ 2:30 a.m. PDT

In Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate fans will experience the game in a brand new light as they enter the fray with the implementation of new generation console features, new storylines and scenarios.

Rather than being an adaptation of historical or semi-historical battles, the Warriors Orochi series takes the casts of Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors and has them team up in huge battles against new mythological foes. Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate follows the cast as they're under attack by a multidimensional Hydra. This beast is so powerful and its attacks so quick and deadly that it slaughters most of the heroes. The survivors must team up with mystic woman Kaguya to travel back in time to build an army to face the Hydra and prevent the destruction of multiple worlds.

It's a silly, fun plot. Unlike Dynasty Warriors Gundam, which feels half-baked with its crossover elements, Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate has a ton of cut scenes, special character dialogues, and an overall plot that tries to make sense of all of the characters fighting together. The plot isn't particularly deep or entirely coherent, but it has a sense of humor about itself, and it's a lot more fun than watching still portraits talk at each other. Orochi 3 also contains a number of guest characters who don't fit into either the Dynasty or Samurai settings, like Ryu Hayabusa, Dead or Alive's Ayane and Kasumi,Soulcalibur's Sophitia, and Atelier Rorona's Sterkenburg.

The biggest change to the classic Dynasty Warriors formula is the inclusion of three-person parties instead of singular characters. Rather than selecting one character to take on the battlefield, you select three different characters to form a team. You play as one character at a time but have the option to bring the other two characters to fight alongside you as AI characters. Combat follows the familiar Dynasty Warriors control scheme, with a combination of light attacks and heavy attacks performing different moves. The addition of two other party members offers some new options when it comes to combat. You can swap characters at any time, whether you're walking around or are in mid-combo. Changing characters after a charge attack can unleash a Rush attack, where all three characters perform a string of combos on the enemy.

The three-character parties are not new to the Orochi franchise, but they're a welcome addition to anyone who's familiar with the other Dynasty Warriors titles. Pretty much every character is about as in-depth and well-designed as they would be in a classic Dynasty Warriors title. In fact, Orochi 3 Ultimate has the largest cast of characters in a Dynasty Warriors game to date, and remarkably, each character feels distinctive. There's obviously some repetition and here and there, but it's much less than you'd expect from such a huge cast. By contrast, Dynasty Warriors 8 defines characters by their equipped weapons and an EX move.

This distinctiveness is helped by each character having a special EX attack that drains some of their Musou gauge in exchange for special effects. Each character also has a character type — Power, Speed, Technique and Wonder — that bestows attributes that determine his or her play style. Power, for example, has super armor on their attacks while Speed characters are fast and often fight better in the air. Technique characters can dodge more effectively, and Wonder characters excel at guard-breaking. Each character also has a passive ability that can do things like increase the rate of meter recovery or improve the damage of combo attacks.

The characters also retain some of the style of their own games. Characters from Samurai Warriors play more like characters from those games than Dynasty Warriors characters. They have different combo strings, more mobility, and a different kind of Musou special attack. Ryu has been simplified from Ninja Gaiden but relies on moves like the Inazuma Drop and Flying Swallow, which keep him feeling like his Ninja Gaiden self. Dead or Alive's Kasumi's fighting style is based around performing grab attacks with her EX moves, and that rewards players who use proper meter management instead of mashing buttons.

Orochi 3 has a different feel from Dynasty Warriors 8. The sheer number of enemies and allies on-screen and the overall combat design makes it more focused on area-clearing attacks and high damage numbers on both sides. It manages to avoid the problem of Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn, where this feels too easy and repetitive. Your characters are extremely powerful and capable of slaying enemy soldiers and officers, but if you're not careful, you're just as vulnerable. You're rewarded for figuring out the best combos and abilities to use for each character and for not overextending your reach. Orochi 3 Ultimate feels more epic and oversized than any other game in the franchise.

There is an absurd amount of content in Orochi 3 Ultimate. The game has a lengthy and surprisingly complex story mode that's more involved than usual.  Most, if not all, of the characters get their own plots. There are hidden stages and story lines to unlock, and you'll even gain the ability to alter the events of previously finished stages, so you can further adjust the plot and characters. Ultimate also includes a series of new chapters that take place before and after the main story, which gives even those who already played the original Orochi 3 something new to experience.

Finishing the story mode is a time-consuming process, but it's even more excessive if you unlock all of the characters, weapons and alternate versions of stages. You can also tackle stages in Free mode, which allows you to take on slightly different configurations of stages and enemies, and you can even create your own battles in the Musou Battlefield mode. The now-traditional weapon fusion and customization options are available, giving every stage a Diablo-like loot-collection aspect that makes it fun to replay levels, especially on harder difficulties, where special weapons can be found.

In addition to the regular Dynasty Warriors-style gameplay, there are two new game modes in Orochi 3 Ultimate. Duel mode is a fighting mode based loosely on the original Dynasty Warriors game — before it was about slaughtering thousands of soldiers at once. In this mode, players engage in 3-on-3 battles against opponents using any of the characters from the main story. You can use special Duel Cards to amplify your abilities, cripple enemy characters or adjust the flow of combat. This mode is more of a curiosity than a fun mode. The Orochi cast is not designed for serious versus battles, and it shows. Character balance is extremely off, and some characters are almost worthless while others are ridiculously overpowered. Power characters with super armor can be excessively powerful, as their ability to tank attacks without getting stunned is significantly more powerful in a one-on-one fight.

There is also the Gauntlet mode, where you choose five characters and form a team. Your team of five characters goes into a randomly generated dungeon, where it fights characters and monsters. You can swap between characters at any time, but all of the characters are always on the field. You can change their formation, which causes them to alter how they stand when fighting together. Instead of team-up attacks, you have a formation gauge that you can spend to perform special attacks or character buffs. The mode is fun, if simplistic. It's centered on exploring the dungeon and finding treasure and then escaping back to base to keep your treasure. Taking on more dangerous enemies, signified by the area's Miasma Level, increases the chances of death but also means you'll find rarer items. There are certain weapons and equipment that can only be found in Gauntlet mode but can be carried back to the regular gameplay mode.

Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is a port of a last-generation game, and it shows. The PlayStation 4 version certainly runs better than the other versions, but it has a number of drawbacks. The character models and lighting effects have been slightly touched up, but it's nothing significant. The frame rate is significantly more reliable than in the last-gen versions, and it only begins to chug in a few rare situations. There are elements that are very strange for a PS4 release. The game's pop-in is extremely bad, and enemy units appear from nowhere on a regular basis. This isn't much of a problem for regular foes, but it's annoying when a boss character appears out of thin air and is right in your face. The loading times are also excessively long, and in-battle cut scene loading takes significantly longer than it should. The problems are minor, but it's disappointing that the step up to a new platform didn't have more of an impact on performance. Warriors Orochi 3 only offers Japanese voice acting with English subtitles. The voice acting is largely energetic and enjoyable, but it's worth noting for those who prefer their games dubbed.

Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is pretty much the best Dynasty Warriors game on the market. It has flaws and weaknesses, but it makes up for it in polish and amount of content. With over 100 distinct and interesting characters, multiple game modes, and a surprisingly fun story mode, Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate has enough to keep players busy for ages. It's not going to win over anyone who's sick of the Warriors formula, but it should be more than enough to keep fans happy. The biggest flaw it has is that it doesn't take advantage of the PlayStation 4's increased power, although it still is a step up from the other versions of the game. If you're a Dynasty Warriors fan or looking to get in the franchise, Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is the best choice.

Score: 8.5/10

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