Are you tired of stabbing someone in the face, only to realize 3/4 of their health remains? Then read this...
The story isn't all that original, although I can say it is a bit more believable than the story for Mortal Kombat. There also aren't any characters whose arms can stretch across the screen, or who are undead.
If I was to list a single factor that made this game so remarkable, it would be the variability in characters. I don't mean, sometimes they wear a blue outfit and sometimes they wear a red one. When you choose your character, the next option is to choose your weapon. The weapons range from Katanas to Halberds, and from Pikes to Broadswords. For each of the two factions, there are 5 weapons to chose from, with 4 of them available for both.
Now the availabilty of different weapons doesn't in its own right make the characters so varied. Each character is excellent with one of the weapons, and perhaps average with a few, and absolutely abysmal with one or two of the weapons. The trick is to find out who is good with each weapon.
Not only does each character have a main weapon that you choose, but they also have a sub-weapon that they can throw; this sub-weapon remains same for the character despite their main weapon. Now if a character's sub-weapon is a long sword, like Highway Man, for instance, it is a safe bet that his best main weapon is also a long sword. Equipping the long sword enables Highway Man to utilize both swords at one time as one of his three stances.
Besides the variability of the players, the other thing I love about this game is battle system itself. It seems like more and more games these days, and even when the Bushido Blade series originated, use life bars to indicate a player's health. That's all well in good, except for one thing. A sword to the head SHOULD NOT DEPLETE 1/4 OF YOUR LIFE!!! A sword to the head should kill a player. And for the most part, Bushido Blade 2 captures that feel perfectly.
You have to understand when playing this game, though, that it debuted as a Playstation 1 game. This means that the graphics are rather choppy, and a slice to your opponent's arm may not always register as a slice to the opponents arm. But like I said before, this game is pretty good about staying true to the "headshot equals kill" gameplay I described.
The music for this game, while sometimes non-existent (this may have been due to my game disc, not the game itself), actually suits the game rather well. The story seems to take place in Feudal Asia (I would assume Japan, but you know what happens when you assume), and the soundtrack contains instruments you would expect to hear during that time period. The sound effects are actually pretty spot on, even capturing the sound echoed footsteps inside a deserted parking garage (I guess that throws out the theory of Feudal Japan).
If I had to state one down-side to this game, it would probably be that it is NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE to unlock every character. Two of the characters use guns as their main weapon. While it is not impossible to defeat them in story mode, you have to defeat 100 ninjas in a row in survival mode WITHOUT DYING to unlock these characters. The ninjas are usually pretty dumb, but they almost always spawn behind you after you defeat the previous one. So one quick hit and you're done for.
So I hope this review helps someone decide to get this amazing game. And in the words of Tony Umeda: "Freak! Who are you calling a freak?!?!"