Tuesday, 3 September 2013

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 - Final Round Review

Loosely based on the manga and anime from the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, One Piece, Pirate Warriors 2 takes the settings and characters from a rather rich source material and builds its own unique story.  First and foremost, if you know nothing about One Piece, the world is amazing and well worth your time - when you’re not too busy gaming that is.  The game has a Dynasty Warriors feel, where you select a character a run around levels smashing hundreds (sometimes thousands) of enemies to complete objectives and defeat your foes.

One Piece has some insanely colourful visuals that take the art design of series creator, Eiichiro Oda, into the 3D realm perfectly.  Everything from the ground you walk upon, to the bright colours of the Thousand Sunny, look as vibrant and playful as the anime or manga does.  Characters look near perfect to their animated counterpart, and are all voices are in Japanese (English subtitles are automatically enabled) for the authentic One Piece feel.

The story is a great example of taking a source material and turning it into something unique and entertaining, without butchering the characters.  While on the run from the Marines, Captain Monkey D. Luffy of the Straw Hate Pirates takes his crew to a nearby island where they discover a room full of objects called Dials.  While there the Dials begin to emit a fog that turns everyone, except Luffy and his navigator Nami, into violent lunatics.  Things become desperate with each battle as more people succumb to the effects of the Dials, building a force bigger than any other that has existed in the One Piece world and forcing alliances with unlikely people.

During my time with the campaign I was able to gather characters who were once enemies and bring them into my crew as playable characters; including old villains, Crocodile and Buggy the Clown; Marine Admirals, Aokiji; even Empoiro Ivankov, seriously look him up.  What it adds up to is a pretty intense war story with pirates, mystical powers and an extremely large body count.

One Piece Pirate Warriors 2 plays the same as the previous title; large groups of enemies run around a map attacking and capturing bases and important locations, while you are destroying them in large numbers and competing for the same capture points.  Each level will give you set objectives to complete as well as secondary objectives, to either give you bonus points for completing it or adding higher stakes to the action (don’t allow team mates to flee or defeat messengers who bring reinforcements).  With the sheer amount of enemies on screen, finding yourself surrounded is common, and this is where camera and lock-on mechanic issues (which were also in the first game) become increasingly apparent.

Generally locking-on will keep you facing your target, allowing your attacks to focus on the individual.  But here it only indicates where they are and sometimes, if it feels like it, the camera follows them.  This can make boss battles incredibly frustrating, especially when 50 enemies are surrounding them and they keep dashing out of sight.  

Throughout the story you are fighting these boss characters (called generals) that have been manipulated by the Dials; successfully beating them usually results in them joining your crew for the rest of the game, and unlocks them in other game modes.  Being a Dynasty Warriorsesque game, having multiple characters with unique fighting styles is a huge bonus for replayability as well as being some amazing fan-service.

Completing any mission will grant you a ton of unlockable items; including images, sound bites, character animations, and some cool playable game modes.  Challenges are a fun diversion from the main story as they consist of survivor mode levels, fighting two boss characters per room and becoming increasingly difficult with your progress.  Certain enemies get teamed together with some devastating results and create pretty challenging battles.  Crew logs also unlock as you complete levels from the main story and beat other crew logs, boiling down to multitudes of opponents that run towards you as you hack and slash your way to the enemy base to defeat their general.  It represents the heart of One Piece’s gameplay.

Even though there is not much of a difference between the first and second game, the few changes that have been made make the world of difference. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 has major replay value and is a blast to look at, and play.  Dozens of characters and unlocks makes it well worth your money even if you are not a big One Piece fan, so set sail for the Grand Line and get ready for a battle you won’t forget.


 - Will Flynn

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