Review: Samurai Warriors 4: Empires (PS4)

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Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible No
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save Yes
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Samurai Warriors 4: Empires
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (20.09 GB)
Release Date: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games
Developer: Omega Force
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: T
Samurai Warriors 4: Empires is also available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Samurai Warriors 4: Empires is a sequel of sorts to Samurai Warriors 4 in the fact that it shows you the other another side of the story. The Empires series allows you to be in control of a famous historical Daimyo (powerful feudal lord) and take control over Japan.

For this game it is Oda Nobunaga, who was an important historical figure in the late 1500’s. This is a semi-historical game where the people and places are real, including some of the actual battles that took place.

There is no real narrative behind the game which is okay. There are cutscenes that play out but it is mostly character building or small vignettes. The game is comprised of two main sections, the Battle Phase and The Political Phase.

SAMURAI WARRIORS 4 Empires_20160309091035SAMURAI WARRIORS 4 Empires_20160310100923

The Battle Phase is where combat happens with you having to defend your territories and castles as well. Combat takes place in varying locations and you can change between the main character and his or her officers. I mainly kept playing as Oda because of his move set and only switched when I had to.

Combat is mapped to a light and strong attack with different combinations you can choose. Each character also has their own special maneuver they can pull of as well. During a combat sequence you will be given objectives that you can complete such as defeating a certain amount of enemies or using a certain attack.

Each level is mapped out with small outposts you need to take out to interrupt the supply lines of your enemy while making yours better. To help quicken your victory it is important to take out the enemy officers. As you take out more territories there will be more troops and officers to deal with.

… rice crops, commerce, and fame …
You can also assign different formations for your troops and add abilities to help your level progression. Combat after the first few hours got old to me quickly, but I will say it’s fluid and the only detraction is the camera at times. The formation you put your troops in does not seem to matter at all mainly due to the fact that the player controlled character is doing the majority of the combat.

The Political Phase is just as big and important as the Battle Phase but has many more issues that keep it from being a fun and interesting part of the game. You start off in the Spring and your first task is to pick your Adviser and your Magistrates from the officer ranks.

These officers have attributes that can raise such things as rice crops, commerce, and fame throughout the different territories. You can also raise the production of these attributes by using points through each Season.

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It is also possible to raise the attributes of your officers by spending points and you will have to change them around from time to time. Cutscenes involving your officers usually delve into their character briefly.

I had real issues with the Political Phase that made it just okay and something I had to do. The UI is menu driven and was very frustrating at times. I eventually got it, but it was frustrating.

Another disappointment is the tutorial system. Personally, I would have liked my hand to be held a little more than it was. Though the Dynasty Warriors series has had a number of variants over the last few years, this is the first Samurai Warriors: Empires game since the PlayStation 2, so a little more of a direct approach with the tutorial would have been nice.

… art design is a real strong point …
As much as I tried to raise production in some attributes it seemed to do very little. I took the approach of more rice and gold to be able to battle more and it felt like my gold and supplies were a random dice roll.

My last gripe is that it all got repetitive towards the end. It was the same choices with very little new ones and I quickly just went with things that got me more supplies and fame.

Visuals:
The art design is a real strong point here. Oda Nobunaga and his officers are all designed very well along with the battlegrounds. As for the graphics, they were middling. Not bad, but not state of the art. I have not noticed any slowdown during battles and only a few instances of pop-in that really did not hinder anything.

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Audio:
The audio design throughout the game is okay and doesn’t exactly standout but it’s not really repetitive. There’s a nice touch of being able to pick your own music in one of the menus so I tried that a few times and thought it was a nifty feature.

It is nice that a game like this the music does not grind on your nerves, especially with all the battles. The sound effects are just okay and the voice acting, while in Japanese, seems to be on track.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

… you will enjoy this experience …
Conclusion:
This is my second attempt at this type of genre and I am finding it really hard to be engaged. But in the back of my mind I know there are good things that this genre and series brings to the table.

This makes it hard to review. Do I take my own tastes into account, or those of other people? I am somewhere in the middle. While it is nice to see the Empires brand come back to the Samurai Warriors series, I think there should have been a little more cohesive experience with the Political side of the game.

The Battle portion is fun even though it got repetitive after a few hours. If you are a fan of the series or genre I think you will enjoy this experience and get something out of it. If this is your first attempt then be wary, but there might be something here for you as well.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Shawn Hiers

Shawn Hiers

Disabled gamer. Married Father of 3, and playing since the Atari days. I have a passion for all things Lego and an avid Toy Collector. I am also an huge Doctor Who Fan and can talk all things Who for hours 🙂

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