TGS 2008: Way of the Samurai 3 Hands-On Impressions

The Samurai's way is the only way in this sequel to the PlayStation 2 action games.

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TOKYO--The previous Way of the Samurai games were akin to Choose Your Own Adventure books, featuring a relatively short game experience but multiple endings that encouraged more than a dozen replays. We sat down with a producer at Acquire today at the Tokyo Game Show to find out more about the third iteration of the series, which is being developed for the PlayStation 3. We also got a few minutes of hands-on time, which helped us get a feel for where the franchise is headed on the current generation of consoles.

Violence isn't the only solution, but it's a satisfying one.
Violence isn't the only solution, but it's a satisfying one.

When you begin the game, you are able to tailor your character's look with a number of different options, such as different heads, various clothing choices, and other aesthetic options. Once we'd chosen a look we liked, the game began with a cutscene. It's a dreary day, and the rain falls from a gray cloudy sky. The camera moves close to our newly created hero, who looks into the sky and allows the drizzle to wash the grime from his face. The camera pulls out, and it's clear that he is injured; as he limps forward, clutching his chest, we see that this is a battlefield, littered with the bodies of his fallen comrades.

We moved him forward and were immediately met with a choice: A few civilians were standing ahead of us. They spoke to our character, and we were met with some choices as the scene progressed. By pressing L1, we unsheathed our sword during the scene, which frightened away the peaceful men. It wasn't clear exactly what effect our actions may have, but according to Acquire, various decisions like this may affect our standing in various towns amongst characters and factions. Had we approached the men peacefully, the outcome of the encounter would have been very different.

We ran down a shallow ravine and entered the local village, where we were met with another choice: A female villager was being threatened by three strangers, and being the gallant sort, swords were instantly clashing. Combat was fairly standard: We hammered the square button to attack and thrust forward using triangle. The third and final foe dropped to his knees toward the end of the fight in order to indicate defeat. Of course, we weren't having that, and we sent him to his maker with a final slice. Actually, your own character is able to kneel in deference as well by pressing L2, and it is a frequent choice in the various interactive story events like the one we described earlier.

We learned from Acquire that you can also take on a female traveling companion, who will assist you in combat as well as join you at your “safe house” (ooh la la!). Your more important companion, of course, is your sword. Each weapon you acquire earns experience separately; as you kill enemies, you will unlock new combos for that particular sword. You can even grip your sword so that the blade faces up, which allows you to stun--but not kill--enemies that you attack. We then experienced another interactive event, ending it by scaring off a young boy who was practicing his stick-thrusting skills in a local field. It was time for more action, obviously, so we headed off to another local village, easily accomplished by pulling up a world map and selecting our destination.

In the new village, we met up with a local military leader, who asked us to join up his crew but forced us to kill a few enemies in the local castle to prove our worth. Our samurai apparently wasn't ready for this path of violence, and our already low health bar didn't help matters. Soon, our hero had fallen, his tale just another puff of smoke. Fortunately, Way of the Samurai 3 is just a game, and one with 15 different endings at that, according to Acquire. It's already apparent that if you liked the prior Way of the Samurai games, this one will give you plenty of what you expect. We'll offer more information, including a final US release date, as it becomes available.

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