Review: Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 (PSV)

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Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
Title: Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3
Format: PlayStation Network Download (2 GB)
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Publisher: Tecmo KOEI America
Developer: Omega Force
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T
Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 is also available on Nintendo 3DS.
The PlayStation Vita download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3, for those who are unfamiliar with the Samurai Warriors series (like myself), is an action RPG where you design your own character and battle your way through feudal Japan.

Gameplay:
Gameplay-wise, Samurai Warriors focuses on a main storyline where you follow various warring states, namely with the famous Nobunaga. You have several branching storylines, but at the early stages of the game it doesn’t appear that you have too much control over which path you take.

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When you start up the game, you’re able to create your custom character. After you’ve created a character you’re introduced to the main storyline via cutscenes using the 3D character models. The game is quite text heavy, so if you do not like to sit and watch the story line you’ll want to skip most of it.

In Story Mode, you see the year starting with 1556 A.D. and progress to different key battles over the span of several decades. Within each year, there will be one or several events and battles. The events in in this mode are mainly dialog and most of that will give you a multiple-choice question on how to respond. Each response will affect the NPC’s favorability to you.

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The favorability of each character will do many things, like give you the ability to take that character into battle with you and maybe even open up new battles. For example, these new optional battles only become playable if certain specific characters have a high enough favorability of you. The battle’s title is hidden, but you will see a list of characters and if they are complete or not. Once you’ve gained enough favorability with each character, you will then be able to play the optional side battle.

As far as the battles go, each has a set of objectives and a difficulty rating from one to ten stars. When you play a battle the first time, you will have to play as yourself and three or four pre-determined characters. Later, if you decide to repeat the battle, you will be able to take whomever you want into battle.

… you can command the three or four NPCs that come with you …
The controls are pretty straightforward with Square and Triangle used for different attacks. Once you fill up a gauge, you can click down on one of the analog sticks to perform a devastating special attack. When you do a special attack, it’s best to be locked onto your main target because once you start the attack the game takes over. Each character has their own attack and it usually starts out with them doing a bunch of wide area sweeping attacks followed up by a devastating stab or slice and then finishing up by a shot or other wide area attack.

The battles themselves are quite complex and cover a huge area, but thankfully you have access to a horse which you can call at any time (similar to Epona from the Legend of Zelda series) to help you travel faster. Once you select a battle, you’ll be presented with the cutscene that describes what it is about and the general objectives. From there you will be presented with the battle map showing where the enemies and allies are located and you’ll have the chance to change your characters (if applicable).

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When the battle begins you’ll be given some basic objectives and the mini map will show flashing red circles where the current and/or highest priority objectives are. As you fight, you’ll hear battle horns and new objectives will be opened up. These can open by clearing out a main objective fast enough or by simply taking out a specific garrison at a certain time. There are many other ways new objectives are discovered so you just have to try to clear things, experiment, and explore the battlefield.

One really great thing about this game is that you can command the three or four NPCs that come with you into each battle (the NPCs you choose or the ones that are chosen for you). So if an event happens, you can command each participant to go to that location and who they should fight. You can also switch between all the main battle characters at any time to take control of them and fight. The ability to switch between characters is really handy when one NPC is losing a battle since you can quickly switch to them and go find health to keep them alive. If you have given your main character battle instructions, your character will continue to fight while you go off and play another character.

I found that the NPC partner AI isn’t that great however. I think maybe once or twice the AI was able to successfully beat the boss or target that you’ve assigned to them. For the most part though, the AI is able to keep the specific targets occupied long enough for you to take care of your objective at hand and then switch to them to finish the job.

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Since this is my first Samurai Warriors game, I can’t really compare it to any other game that I’ve played but I do understand that it’s very similar to the Dynasty Warriors franchise in terms of gameplay (which is also published and developed by the same companies, depending on the game). You are a single warrior with great ability so you are able to fend off hoards and hoards of enemies coming at you. The term used in both these series (as well as other games that use the “Warriors” series moniker) is called Musou, which doesn’t seem to literally mean a person who fights off an army but this is what the term means in these specific games.

Along with the hoards of weaker enemies that you face in battle there will also be mini-bosses and barracks captains. If you take down a barracks captain, you will capture the barracks and exchange the weaker enemies in the area with your army. Also, as you capture barracks you will sometimes unlock new objectives.

… it’s just loaded with content …
The mini-bosses and objective bosses range in toughness, but you always have the ability to call your other NPCs under your command to come and help you. After you beat one of these tougher characters you will sometimes get scrolls and weapons from them which you can use to level up your gear.

During the battle all that matters is that you complete the main objective, so lots of times you can miss quite a few objectives if you do the battle in the wrong order. Also, some parts of the battle will be locked until you take out different gate commanders to open the gates. There’s often a lot going on so it’s sometimes tough to keep track of everything.

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After the battle, you and your partners will gain experience and you will have the ability to enhance your weapon. Each of your weapons has six or so properties associated with them that can be improved. For example, you will gain different gems in the battle and each gem has a property to them such as fire, ice, wind, earth, electricity, etc. You can use the gems to boost these specific abilities on your weapon.

Later on in the game, when you’re outside the battle area, you’ll get the ability to go into town. From the town, you can buy supplies, visit a blacksmith to create new weapons or upgrade weapons, and invite your companions to a tea house for a party.

These parties are used to enhance the NPC’s favorability towards you so that you can unlock them in battle and also unlock the special battles mentioned before.

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Overall, it’s pretty good for a portable game and it’s just loaded with content. I played solely on the PlayStation TV and it worked very well with both the DualShock 3 and DualShock 4. This is one of the few PS Vita games that allows you to use the L2 and R2 triggers when playing on PS TV. Most of the time, games seem to only allow you to use controls that are on the Vita itself.

I had a couple of problems with the game, particularly with the battle objectives. When you get a new objective on the battlefield, the horn blows and it pauses all of the action, halting the gameplay. There were so many times where I was in the heat of a battle with a mini-boss and the horn blew bringing everything to a halt. Having the game paused like that for new objectives really takes you out of the action and was very annoying for me.

… the action is very fast and fluid …
One other annoyance is with the lock-on. I don’t recall seeing a tutorial tip that said how to lock on, but I did find that if you click down on one of the analog sticks, you could kind of lock onto your enemy. However, the camera does not stay behind you and keep your main target in view, so many times I found myself facing the camera and trying to hit an unseen enemy. I think the addition of a lock-on ability where the camera automatically keeps you and your target in sight would have been perfect for this game. Many times, you’re surrounded by enemies and you’re trying to do button combo attacks and it’s really tough to focus on your main target — even when you’re locked on.

Visuals:
The visuals of the game are pretty good but not the best I’ve seen for a Vita game. I think though that with the scope of the battlefield and how many characters are on the screen, compromises had to be made to make the game run smoothly.

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As far as visual performance, the game doesn’t seem to dip in framerate or freeze at all. So the action is very fast and fluid and I sometimes almost forgot that I was playing the game on the PlayStation TV.

Audio:
The audio is also pretty decent for a portable game and sounds pretty good with surround sound. The soundtrack is pretty limited and you’ll hear the same theme song playing quite a bit. It never got too bad to the point that it bothered me, but it might get grating for some people.

As far as voice acting, the game features only Japanese audio with English subtitles, so expect to do a lot of reading. I was a bit surprised at how much voice acting is in this game though. It’s a portable game but there’s quite a bit in the many, many cutscenes. Even within the battles, when you defeat certain characters, they will have small events as the the battle goes on and you’ll hear the dialog.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single-player only with no online components.

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Conclusion:
Overall, Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 is a massive game in a small package. While it’s not the best looking game, it’s pretty decent looking and fun to play. The game plays quite well on the PlayStation TV, so that’s just one more bonus to buying it for the Vita as opposed to the 3DS.

I would probably recommend this game to those of you who like the Dynasty Warriors-style combat and who love to learn about Japanese history. If you’ve never played one of these games, I still think it might be worth playing if you’re itching to play something on the Vita, but I think this is probably geared more for the hardcore fans of the series. There are many of these games on the PS3 and PS4 to play so this one seems to be geared to play on the go while still having that console experience.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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Written by Jason Honaker

Jason Honaker

A software developer for over 15 years, originally from St. Louis, MO and currently living in Seattle, WA. Started gaming in 1979 on the Atari 800 8-bit PC. I play all sorts of games, but am partial to RPGs and 3rd person brawlers and shooters.

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