Samurai Warriors: Xtreme Legends and Blood Will Tell
Publisher: THQ Australia
Thu, 14 April 2005
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Any game that has âXtremeâ (or any variation of the word extreme) in its title is going to face an uphill battle winning me over. Because it is a proven historical fact that, 9 times out of 10, âXtreme/Extremeâ equals either (or both) âtries way too hard to be coolâ or âall style and no substanceâ. Samurai Warriors Xtreme Legends fought hard to dispel my pre-conceptions. In fact, the game put up such an admirable amount of effort that I ended up rather liking it. But, in the war to completely capture my affection, it ultimately couldnât quite manage to emerge fully victorious.
One problem I had with this game is that (apparently) it is actually more or less an expansion pack for the first PS2 Samurai Legends game and as such is priced a bit lower than the average console release. Thereâs nothing at all wrong with that, especially since this title can be played as a full separate game in its own right. But, since I donât own and have never played the previous Samurai Warriors, Iâm probably missing out on a big part of what Xtreme Legends has to offer. That also means I am unable to tell you just how well it all works when you combine the two games.
The game is set in feudal Japan. Basically what you do in this game is choose one of four characters, watch the ensuing cut-scenes (which look pretty cool but didnât make all that much sense to me) and then run around hacking up dozens upon dozens of enemies. There is some degree of strategy required, as you are given certain instructions you must attempt to follow and goals you have to meet. But essentially Samurai Warriors Xtreme Legends is just an old-school style beat-âem-up. It is quite fun for a while, mainly thanks to the truly massive number of enemies that attack you all at once. You also have some pretty stylish moves at your disposal and the ability to get on a horse and ride around taking people out was a nice touch. But pretty soon I found it all started to feel much too repetitive.
|This samurai is, like, totally extreme dude! |
Technically the game is pretty sound. The graphics are quite good, thereâs nothing really outstanding going on, but the game features some interesting character designs and settings. The engine does a nice job of handling the insane number of on-screen enemies for the most part, though the frame rate does suffer from time to time. The sound is, again competent yet not thrilling. Except maybe for the voice acting, which is truly horrible at times and personally I found that quite amusing. It reminded me of the old Monkey TV show.
I wouldnât really recommend a purchase of this game, unless you find the setting extremely appealing. It is just too monotonous to be fun for any extended period of time. However Samurai Warrior: Xtreme Legends would make a great rental, as it is a fun action game in small doses. Of course, if you own the first PS2 Samurai Warriors, then you will probably get a whole lot more out of Xtreme Legends.
Slightly above average, yet thoroughly unspectactular. I rate this game 6.5 out of 11 buttons
BLOOD WILL TELL
This is some trippy shit. Just the fact that Hyakkimaru (bless you), the samurai dude that the player controls, has a cannon built into his knee was enough to attract my attention. Samurais with knee cannons; you just donât see enough of that. He also has swords built into his arms, so you really donât want to piss him off.
The storyline for Blood Will Tell is based on Tezuka Osamuâs (the creator of Astro Boy) Dororo. Hereâs a blurb taken from Sega Europeâs website:
Like the original Manga the game follows the adventures of Hyakkimaru, a tortured samurai on a quest to uncover his past and regain his humanity. As a newborn baby he was robbed of every limb, organ and even his flesh, his humanity replaced with a myriad of ways to deal out death. At every step of the way Hyakkimaru's friend Dororo will be there to help, guide and fight alongside him.
Dororo is, according to this Tezuka Osamu website, meant to be a boy. But in the game the character seems very much like a girl. This little girly boy just adds even more strangeness to the already strange proceedings. Anyway, you can issue commands to Dororo, such as asking him fight the enemies or search for hidden things. There are also a few occasions in the game where you take control of Dororo, which mostly involve puzzle solving. These sections are nothing to write home about, but they do a reasonable job of breaking things up a bit.
The majority of the game is pure hack and slash action. You take on all manner of evil monsters (or "fiends", as they are known in the game) in an attempt to retrieve Hyakkimaruâs 48 missing body parts. Each time you get a body part your skills will be upgraded in some way. As a result, the further you progress the more varied your attacks become and the more fun the combat tends to get.
Unfortunately it still ends up getting very repetitive. On top of that problem, the camera tends to be a pain in the arse, except for during the many boss battles where it actually works very well.
|Beware the fury of the knee cannon! |
Despite its repetitive nature, Blood Will Tell manages to remain quite engaging, as it does everything with a great deal of style. The various combo attacks are fun to perform and go a long way to stopping the game from becoming just plain boring. There are many different swords to find as well, which also add some slight variation to your attacks.
The graphics, while far from the best that the PS2 is capable of, are okay. Especially impressive are the Fiends who are some of the most uniquely designed and eye catching characters Iâve seen in game for quite some time. The gameâs rendered cutscenes are quite stunning as well. The sound quality is of a similar standard, with some decent voice acting and fitting, yet quite forgettable music.
There are just so many other games like this around that it takes something special for one to stand out. At the end of the day Blood Will Tell fails to really do that and is not what could be called a great game. But it is still worth playing for the storyline, the great creature designs and the over the top craziness of it all. Iâd say you would be best off renting this bad boy. Unless youâre a big fan of Tezuka Osamu, in which case it would probably be worth buying.
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Blood Will Tell is no classic, but it has its moments and is worth a look