Way of the Samurai 3 Preview
After a massive five year hiatus, Acquire's Way of the Samurai franchise returns to American store shelves this coming October, nearly a full year after it's 2008 release in Japan. With games like Onimusha nowhere to be found, Way of the Samurai is a good series to fill in the void that Capcom's epic samurai franchise has left. Having fared pretty well in Japan, earning an 8,8,8,7 (31/40) from Famitsu, WOTS3 is a title fans should keep their eyes on.
The story, as you'd expect, is set during feudal era Japan, more specifically the Warring States Period. You create a character based on the choices offered to you by the game's character creator, and embark on a journey through the province of Gishu Amana, controlled by the Fujimori clan. There are two opposing factions to the Fujimori known as the Ouka, and the villagers of Koshu.
What has always been unique about Way of the Samurai is its branching storyline that can have you witness different experiences with numerous playthroughs, on top of rewarding you with different endings, all based on your choices. Back in 2002, Way of the Samurai was one of the very first examples of what has now become a staple in gaming today. For the newest game, you should expect even more storyline branches and consequences, on top of even more endings. How does 15 endings sound? For reference, the first game had seven, and the second had eleven.
One thing I will say is this: do not expect a massive quest lasting a horde of hours with every playthrough. The WOTS franchise has long been known to have plotlines that last only a few hours each, which makes sense considering there are 15 endings and numerous different paths the story can take you through. So that said, there should still be a very high amount of replay value here.
The game will reward you with Samurai points based on your decisions, which will eventually lead to the unlocking of new abilities and even characters. There are even ways to avoid conflicts by selecting the right choices, choosing diplomacy over bloodshed. It all depends on how you play the game, as an honorable Samurai, a bandit, or someone striving to uphold the government.
If you've played any of the 'Samurai games before, then you know the action is geared towards the more realistic side of things, as opposed to say...Ninja Gaiden or Devil May Cry. The A.I. in this third game are even smarter, requiring you to work around their blocking, and even learning how to counter. From what I've seen, gameplay is more than just a hack 'n' slash, requiring some strategy to get around your opponents.
Now to help aid you in your quest will be your weapons, which are customizable with over 200 different parts and materials. You'll have the ability to use blades, spears, pole axes, and much more. In addition to weaponry, you'll be rewarded with new abilities and skills throughout your journey, as well.
The one drawback to the game for some may be the not-so-polished visuals. While a next-gen game, Way of the Samurai 3's visuals leave something to be desired, as they don't quite live up to many other action games out there. But I will say that the computer generated cutscenes in the game are absolutely phenomenal looking, though.
Look for Way of the Samurai 3 to hit October 13th.
9/15/2009 Arnold Katayev