Warriors Orochi Hands-On

Koei's upcoming hack-and-slash looks to take fun to the power of three.

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If you've ever played Dynasty Warriors, you know it's good hack-and-slash fun. So what could make it even better? Try three superbuff ninja butt-kickers in one. Cue Warriors Orochi, a new franchise set in the Dynasty Warriors universe (albeit in another dimension) where you'll be able to switch between three different heroes on the fly, picking your tag team from a pool of 77. The game invades retailers this September 18.

According to the brief bit of story we saw before diving into the action, the snake-faced Orochi has captured all the armies and heroes from China and Japan and teleported them to a new world, where he makes them fight for his evil amusement. Even worse, he's captured Sun Ce's father, and is forcing Sun Ce (aka you) to do his wicked bidding. You first find yourself on a battlefield with comrades Hanzo Hattori and a huge fat guy with an entire sword on his helmet. He doesn't use the sword, however--he uses a spear that has a cannon inside of it.

Evil wears many hats.
Evil wears many hats.

Now, this is the story of only one campaign, the Wu Kingdom. There are also unique campaigns for the Wei Kingdom, the Shu Kingdom, and Samurai Warriors. Each has its own plot and main characters. We played through two large Wu stages, plowing through waves of enemies, bitterly battling rebel leaders, and gaining levels and powers. The first area we played was the Battle of Mount Ding Jun, where our terrible trio smote a rebel uprising. We mostly used Hanzo Hattori, who began the campaign with a simple three-hit combo. But as we defeated enemies and bosses, he gained levels and his combo became more devastating.

Before long, Hanzo would execute a devastating multihit combo, which he would finish with a weird teleporting strike. This was extremely effective against infantry, because it allowed him to slash his way into the middle of a group, then immediately pop back out. However, Hanzo's combo was relatively weak against bosses, as it would carry him out of striking distance. So, we'd just hit a button and instantly change to Sun Ce, whose tonfa were strong against both normal enemies and bosses.

After crushing the uprising at Mount Ding, we discovered we'd unlocked several new weapons, as well as the ability to enter future fights on the back of a horse. We equipped the new blades and entered a second area, where rebel forces had lain siege to a town and captured all the grain warehouses. We rode in on horseback and ran down the rebels like dogs--that is, until one of them knocked us off with a well-placed arrow. But that wasn't the end of our equestrian adventure. After clearing out the archers and some of the tougher enemies on foot, we hit a button and whistled for our horse. Back in the saddle, we could easily move from skirmish to skirmish, crushing foes under the hooves of our terrible steed.

Strike thousands of enemies...and poses!
Strike thousands of enemies...and poses!

If that sounds impressive, you should see it in action. According to one of the Koei representatives, Warriors Orochi will support battles of up to 500 units without a trace of slowdown. And from what we saw, she was telling the truth. With scores of enemies all fighting and dying onscreen, the action never hitched, hiccupped, or skipped. And it looked good aesthetically, thanks to the bright, vibrant colors of the heroes' garb, and their flashy special attacks. Warriors Orochi looks like it will take full advantage of this generation's powerful hardware.

While this may sound like too much information, it's just the tip of the iceberg. With 77 playable characters, four campaigns, and huge battles to be fought, this should be one of the best Koei action games yet. Stay tuned for more information on this dynamic hack-and-slash when it hits store shelves on September 18.

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