After the stellar success of the first two installments in the Onimusha series, it would only be logical for Capcom to bring us more samurai goodness with another sequel. As with the first two games, Onimusha 3 will be based upon a real actor, as Takeshi Kaneshiro will be reprising his role as the legendary Samanosuke Akechi. On top of that is the addition of French action star Jean Reno, best known for his performance in The Professional. This will be Reno's first foray into the videogame industry, and one can only think that his addition here is solely to draw a larger European audience for this installment of Onimusha. Since the sales of the first two games in the series were ridiculously awful in Europe, Reno was most likely brought in to give this final episode a broader appeal.
While still set in mid 16th century feudal Japan, the plot will somehow trek across time to modern day Paris, where Samanosuke and Jacques Blanc (played by Reno) meet up to kick ass together. Sure, it sounds implausible, but compared to the idea of combating an undead, immortal feudal lord corrupted by demons, it doesn't sound so bad, does it? Even better is the fact that Takashi Yamazaki, the legendary Hong Kong film maker, has agreed to direct the CG sequences. Best known for his somewhat unique brand of Sci-Fi action, Onimusha 3 may be a bit of a departure for the director, but something tells me he is up to the challenge. Donnie Yen, famous fight coreographer, has also signed up to make these implausible battles seem that much more realistic. Yen, the son of famed Tai Chi master Bow Sim-Mark, trained with the same master as Jet Li as part of the legendary Beijing Wushu Team. While Onimusha 3 doesn't look to score points on authenticity, with Yen behind the battle scenes it should provide some incredible action.
The biggest change to Onimusha 3 will be it's leap into a fully three dimensional world. Unlike the first two games, which used pre-rendered backgrounds to achieve a more artistic visual element, Onimusha 3 will be a full on 3D-action game. Keiji Inafune, creator of the series, claims this transition was made because new technology will allow his team to recreate the same stunning environments as the first two games while allowing for enhanced control. Aside from the fact that pre-rendered backgrounds should be a thing of the past, the other obvious benefit of this is that Onimusha 3 will have a control scheme that is not nearly as shoddy as the first two, which were, unfortunately, rather similar to the controls found in Resident Evil.
As we all know, different control schemes mean different gameplay, but from the looks of things, this last Onimusha is going to have the same kind of battle focused intensity as the first two. Each of the two playable characters, Blanc and Samanosuke, will have different weapons, actions, skills, and more, which should play out more along the lines of the first Onimusha, as opposed to the second. While the secondary characters in previous games left something to be desired, to say the least, it only makes sense that a character based on Jean Reno is going to have more of an impact on the game.
The weirdest thing about Onimusha 3 is that it is slated to be the final installment. With the proliferation of, and some would even say the reliance upon, sequels these days, Keiji Inafune is making a bold statement by ending the series, perhaps before its time. Either way, with a ridiculously talented staff, a fresh appearance by Reno, and of course the good old Onimusha formula all being tossed into the mix, Onimusha 3 certainly looks like it's on the right track. Stay tuned for more information on Onimusha 3 as it's released.
3/19/2003 Ryan Hartmann