Capcom recently sent us the US version of Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, the last game in its Onimusha trilogy for the PlayStation 2. The game wraps up the conflict between the demon Nobunaga and Samanosuke, the heroic and fashionably coiffed wielder of the powerful Oni gauntlet. While the US version of the game doesn't appear to sport any radical changes from its Japanese counterpart, the English text and voice are handled well.
The gameplay in the Onimusha series has been steadily improving since its debut on the PlayStation 2 in 2001. This latest entry features the most refined incarnation of gameplay systems, which is a faster-paced variation of its classic Resident Evil formula. The big change for the final chapter is the inclusion of different playable characters, which helps give the game a broader scope. While each of the characters makes use of the same basic control scheme, they all have unique qualities that manage to give each of them a unique feel. The most striking of the new playable characters is, of course, Jacques Blanc, who is modeled after and voiced by arguably the most badass French actor ever to hold a gun, Jean Reno.
The English version of Onimusha 3 sheds some light on the game's epic story of time traveling and demons invading modern-day France, which was a bit hazy for non-Japanese speakers in the import game. For those keeping score, the game's story of good versus evil finds Samanosuke sent into the far future during his final confrontation against Nobunaga, while Jacques Blanc winds up in the past a few days before that fateful confrontation. You discover that in order to set things right, the pair of unlikely heroes must team up and face off against the forces of evil in their respective eras. The intertwining tales take some interesting twists and turns that end up making for a very satisfying adventure worthy of a finale.
The graphics in the game are an eye-popping testament to Capcom's comfort with the PlayStation 2 hardware. The game sports a pretty serious overhaul from the previous entries, thanks to an all-new 3D engine that does away with the prerendered 2D backgrounds from the first two games. The fully 3D world is impressively detailed and features a host of lighting effects and other graphical flourishes that definitely bring feudal Japan, modern-day Paris, and the game's other locales to vivid life.
The audio is crisp and boasts a strong mix of sound effects, voice, and an excellent score. The sounds of battle, everything from the clash of words to the death cries of the hordes of demons and assorted foes you'll be dispatching on your journey, are nicely done and complement the action well. The English voice is of equal quality overall--there are some moments of cheesiness, but they don't detract from the entire experience. Sadly, Monsieur Reno isn't on hand to voice his virtual self in English, though he does handle the character's French dialogue. Finally, the game's score, one of the highlights of the series, offers a sweeping assortment of arrangements that fit the action perfectly. The piece that accompanies the fantastic opening CG movie alone is one of the most rousing bits we've heard in a game in quite some time.
Onimusha 3: Demon Siege is looking like a classy send-off to the Onimusha series that has an involving story and sports some appealing refinements to its gameplay. The variety in playable characters and the impressive graphics make it the most polished entry in the series and certainly give it an undeniable charm. Anyone looking for a strong action game for the PlayStation 2 with eye-popping visuals will want to check out Onimusha 3: Demon Siege when it ships this May.