Warriors Orochi PSP Hands-On Impressions

We swing our swords with a look at the expansive new roster in Warriors Orochi 2 for the PlayStation Portable.

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Warriors Orochi 2 (Musou Orochi: Maou Sairin in Japan) is the PlayStation Portable follow-up to the poorly received handheld version of Warriors Orochi. The game marries Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors and expands on its predecessor with a few new tricks up its sleeves. We got our hands on the game at this year's E3 and had a chance to tool around with the new character roster and single-player modes.

Versus mode will let you pick three warriors and take on a friend over a Wi-Fi connection.
Versus mode will let you pick three warriors and take on a friend over a Wi-Fi connection.

As a brief recap for the uninitiated, the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series of games are third-person hack-and-slash action adventure games with a focus on battling and destroying huge armies in expansive open-world spaces. Warriors Orochi maintains this sense of scale and gives you direct control over three characters, only one of whom you'll actively control at any given time. Swapping out characters can be done on the fly by simply tapping on the D pad with the direction corresponding to the avatar you wish to send into battle. You'll steer your selected character around with the PSP's analog nub and use the square and triangle buttons to perform light and heavy attacks. Pressing and holding buttons charges an attack (though you can be struck while powering up), while the right bumper is used to unleash special moves. These special attacks perform flashy moves where they can--depending on which character you're using at the time--take on the form of rushing slash moves, spinning swords, or multiple rifle shots. Many of these include area-of-effect damage to several nearby targets when used and are useful when you find yourself swarmed by a group of attackers.

Action still revolves around killing waves of grunt-level fodder guards before taking on minibosses and more powerful adversaries with larger health bars, better armor, and their own special attacks. Our demo introduced us to the playable character San Zang, who had us searching for Sun Wukong. We were told that Sun Wukong had been imprisoned for "mischief." On the way to finding Sun Wukong, we passed the 100 soldiers kill counter, unlocking a new strategy that our team could use as we progressed onward.

Warriors Orochi 2 features several new modes, including Dream, Versus, and Survival. Dream mode allows you to select three characters from the 92-name roster (including new character Benkei for the western release) and play scenarios based on your choice of team members. Versus uses the same three-character team in a two-player head-to-head mode where you'll play across four different scenarios. Survival mode is a two-player mode that works identically to the Versus mode but includes infinite enemy spawning.

The game looks reasonable on the PSP's widescreen LCD and showed off fluid character animations and a solid frame rate, though environmental textures appeared quite muddy. Game audio (though repetitive) sounded quite good and did a good job of capturing the feel of the oriental setting--when you're not listening to the sound of swords hitting bodies. The game builds on the PlayStation 2 version of the game, and Warriors Orochi fans who are after a portable fix of their favorite hack-and-slash game will no doubt follow this with interest ahead of the game's as yet unconfirmed 2009 launch.

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