Way of the Samurai 2

Way of the Samurai 2
Way of the Samurai was a great fighting game with multiple endings based on your honor. Way of the Samurai 2 adds better graphics and more paths!

You start by customizing your warrior - choosing a head, clothes, sword and ohter items. You can unlock more choices as you go, which is of course half the fun. You have a "sword safe" to store swords in from game to game. You've also got an "item box".

The plot here is that you're at a port town torn between the coming of foreigners and the traditional ways of the samurai. Think The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. The Edo period is coming to an end, and upheaval is a result.

As with the first game, you interact with characters from set choices. The way you choose to interact with characters determines your personality, from slimy dirt-bag to honorable, noble caring person.

You can turn the blood off if you want, but this is a slicing sword game. There are a variety of swords and weapons, but they all basically hack at your opponent until the blood loss kills him. Some have samurai swords, some have hammers, and so on. You can build your weapons and attacks up over time and using special combinations.

The graphics are nice in a Final Fantasy sort of way - nice character models but not so great surroundings. The environments are on the static side, and the character movements are not overly complex. Still, the game is about what you do - not about a Myst-like absorption in your gorgeous surroundings.

The map mode makes it easy to move between the 10 or so map locations, which is very nice. As time progresses, you can see what's going on in the various spots. This is very much like Groundhog Day - you go through the same days over and over again, learning who goes where at each time period so you know what to do and when.

The sound is reasonably OK - Japanese background music and general "OK" and "Hi" noises along with the dialogue. Many of the voices just don't seem to fit - a New York accent comes out of a Japanese woman's mouth. I think they could have done a better job choosing who did the voices for the characters.

The Groundhog Day analogy really fits here. After a few playings you get to know the various characters rather well, knowing what their motivations are and how they react in different situations. You go to a location and say to yourself "OK in a few minutes XXXX will come walking around the corner ..." and sure enough, they do. It gets to be a very "comfortable" game to play - you know what's going to happen and you have to choose how to react.

While in some games you complain about the AI being the same, in this case it makes sense. You're replaying the same time sequence, over and over, and experimenting with different reactions. It's fun to see how your different choices affect your world.

We easily spent many weeks on the original Way of the Samurai, and this new version is even more immersive. If you're a fan of fun plots and sword slashing, definitely give this one a try!

Way of the Samurai 2 from Amazon.com

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