Review: Warriors All-Stars (PS4)

Review: Warriors All-Stars (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita *Japan only
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Warriors All-Stars
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (19.61 GB)
Release Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Omega Force
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 16
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
If you’re looking for some consistency in an otherwise tumultuous world, look no further than Omega Force.

This team lives and breathes the Warriors franchise, sometimes releasing several each year under various IP licenses.

The latest offering gives us that familiar Dynasty Warriors combat of blasting through thousands of redshirts but with a minor twist.

This new spin on the franchise is that it features crossovers from myriad Koei Tecmo games. Characters from Atelier Sophie, Nights of Azure, Nioh, Deception IV, and a bunch more make appearances. It’s an eclectic grouping of titles including visual novels and pachinko machines thanks to Koei’s multiple divisions.

The story sees these characters, or heroes, drawn into a dying world thanks to a prophesy that they would save the world following the death of the king. However, that death means the throne is empty and three of the king’s relatives are all vying for it.

Each of the heroes ends up allied with one of these would be monarchs and must see it to completion before the ritual to send them home can be performed.

It’s a rather mundane story overall, a Game of Thrones where the game is played not out of ambition but rather out of more selfless reasoning. Each faction fights over a few random shrines before the game decides enough is enough and ends the story. As in many crossover games, the real draw is in silly crossover shenanigans between familiar characters.

This one certainly doesn’t shy away from trying to provide fan service and references. An barrel you can interact with or a conversation about volleyball serve as in-jokes to players who would understand them. Even character’s movesets in battle try to tie into their origin, though they’re hampered somewhat by the rigid structure of the game’s combo/attack system.

For those not familiar with the formula of Dynasty Warriors and its ilk, the games all drop you onto a sprawling battlefield as an officer of an army. You face off against one or two opposing armies and you must lead your side to victory through various objectives depending on the scenario.

This is done not really through strategy but rather by attacking head-on with your hero. Being a named character and not a nameless grunt, you can and will mow through peons in one or two hits. Battles often end with a KO count of one or two thousand of these unfortunate cannon fodder soldiers with enemy heroes and leaders providing the only actual challenge.

If the normal attacks aren’t wide ranging enough, this game has a few other tricks too. You can go into battle with four allies and can call them in either for a single attack or to fight alongside you for a time. I was kind of hoping there’d be a way to swap between characters like in Warriors Orochi but that doesn’t seem to be here.

There’s a little bit of planning to complement the mindless action. Some areas of the battlefield are designated as bases and capturing them will give certain bonuses. Still, most missions can be passed by beelining for the big boss or current objective and ignoring all else.

There’s a mechanic called Bravery that makes it easier to fight based on taking bases or defeating opposing heroes, so the game does try to dissuade ignoring everything but it is still possible.

As with all Warriors games, the combat ends up feeling part empowering and part mind numbing. There’s a certain kind of joy in seeing the KO count climb, but mashing through foes for a couple hours starts to dull the experience.

On the Normal difficulty even enemy heroes didn’t put up much of a fight. I only really died due to imprecise controls, gang-up-on-the-human situations, and a few hubris moments of trying to fight foes above my Bravery level.

Outside of battle, there’s a little bit of RPG management. Characters level up in an entirely hands-off manner but they can also equip a card that the player does have control over.

These cards can be upgraded and given different bonuses using gathered materials though this mostly feels like busy work. I found myself pretty much ignoring it once I had a halfway decent card for each character but they can offer some pretty nice bonuses.

There are a variety of mission types shown on the map, some being better for gathering materials or showing that completion will unlock a new character. But they all start to feel kinda same-y and uninteresting after a while. Some missions advance the story too, a story which, to me, seemed to be over very quickly.

Granted, there are some branching options for the story plus the game clearly intends for players to play through multiple times in order to see each of the three sides. There are some alternate endings intended to be silly joke endings, and probably some kind of true ending for doing all three stories. But I’ve played through twice and have three endings and I’m pretty burnt out on the whole affair now.

Visuals:
Warriors All-Stars may be PS4/PC for the English version but in Japan the game also launched on the Vita. As is often the case, I feel like the handheld version probably held back the game a little bit.

This version is clearly not something the Vita can handle on its own. There are usually dozens of enemies on screen and several allies all performing crazy special attacks, but I doubt the devs could use the full power from the PS4 with both in development.

That’s not to say the game looks bad. Aesthetically, it’s pretty good, drawing inspiration from the many series that comprise it. Environments are often pulled from other games and it’s kinda cool to run around a familiar area in a new way. Likewise enemies sometimes come from these games as well, be it puni from Atelier or cats who look like samurai from Samurai Cats.

I like the way each of the character’s attacks looks too. This is where the game pulls a lot of references to source material. For example Arnice’s heavy attacks summon several familiar Servans like she does in her own game, Nights of Azure. It’s a nice visual cue while also making the characters feel like they play different from one another.

Audio:
The voice acting is not adjustable, meaning all the characters are in their original language. This is Japanese for everyone except William from Nioh, who speaks English. Oddly, no one seems to acknowledge a language barrier when interacting with William.

As most of the spoken lines are during battle, calling out new enemies or verbally sparing with foes, it can make it somewhat tough to follow along with only Japanese. Everything is subtitled on screen, but it’s not always easy to read and fight at the same time.

Music also comes with references to the other games as many of the tunes are similar or even lifted from the source material. It’s a pretty decent soundtrack overall, pulling in some of the best and most familiar songs in those games.

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

Conclusion:
It’s pretty fitting that a Koei Tecmo crossover game would come in the style of one of the game franchises they are most known for. Omega Force is certainly capable of cranking these out and this one plays like most Warriors games but hey, now you’re an All-Star. Editor’s Note: Ugh, really? Get your game on, go plaaay.

There’s very little that’s new here and some of the stripped down character customization means the onus is squarely on the one versus a thousand gameplay to carry the burden. While the characters feel pretty varied, thanks to their differing origins, the rest of the game is not. Doing essentially (sometimes exactly) the same mission over and over dampens the experience.

Warriors All-Stars will appeal most to those who already like the formula, especially if they like other Koei properties. I’d recommend it to those folks, though I’m sure it’s already on their radar. For those looking to try it just for the other characters though, don’t expect too much. While it does have some appeal for those folks and can be good fun for a few hours of gaming, I found it lost its luster the longer it went on.

Score:
6.5

* 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 Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

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