Though it may look ugly, with such a highly variable fighting system solidity is this game's achievement

User Rating: 6 | Warriors Orochi 2 X360
------ Pre-Review Summary:

Warriors Orochi 2 may not live up to the standard for beat-em-up games in many ways that other 360/PS3 games of the same genre never needed to worry about, but it still redeems itself to the point of not being mediocre by utilizing a fighting system that requires a team of three fighters. In this team of three each character, on average, has two RB special attacks of their own, one special, and six X attacks and five Y attack extensions.

There are three types of fighters: Speed, Tech, and Power. The Speed fighter can dash while he is in the air, has a long range special attack, and usually has a self-sacrificial special attack to help his two team members; the Tech fighter specializes in countering; and the Power character has crowd-controlling special attacks and can deal more damage. There are ninety-four playable characters all with unique attacks, five story modes, twenty-four bonus, esp. paradox missions in 'Dream Mode', a Free mode to replay beaten story missions with whoever you want, and a survival and local-play versus mode.

The setting is a fusion of two time periods and their entities--the Warring States era of Feudal Japan and the Three Kingdoms era of Ancient China--due to the actions of a man called Orochi. Defeating Orochi four times in four of the five story modes is your goal while doing the reverse in the fifth. There are a total of eight missions and relatively twenty fighters per story to select from.

------ Review:

---------------- Pros:

* All story modes are available to you from the beginning and are interchangeable with each other even if they aren't completed (with your data preserved), giving the player good control over where he wants to take his playtime.
* For every new fighter in a mission you are rewarded with them once that mission is complete and they thereby become a part of your story, lightly adding a sense of progression and reward.
* Even though missions heavily lack in their appearances, their originality, and their objectives rarely stray from cutting down officers A through H, with over twenty characters to select from per story you will never be forced to repeat a tired moveset, which in large part makes the game less monotonous.
* In almost every mission you may obtain a treasure item by completing certain conditions. Since these treasures serve the function of powering up your characters by adding special abilities and bonus damage to your weapons, missions can be seen in more than one light.
* Character leveling is streamlined: you are rewarded a set number of points after each mission depending on your performance--which can then be allocated to any character you want--rather than using that character to level him. This is good because it helps maintain a light sense of progression and the progression doesn't get in your way.
* At any time you may have a local friend help you
* Since the fighting system is based around forming a team of three fighters, each a part of a class unique to the team, there are many possible combinations to choose from, making the system highly variable
* Since each class moderately makes up for what the other lacks the game is well balanced
* The higher the combo count the greater the item drops and total point value for leveling characters, so you are encouraged to fight as a team
* For every attack you sustain you may initiate a counter with the simple press of LB+X, launching out a team member to assist you; when your entire team has a low life bar you may initiate a three-pronged musou attack at the enemy. Both of these give the game a better feel of teamwork and show that you have the resources to defend yourself from annoying coin flips

--------------- Pros (2):

* The game's survival mode plays like a traditional 3D fighter, which adds a nice dynamic to those who want to try out something new.
* There are many mode types in Versus
* Dream Mode scenarios are a fair break from everything else, as they each have their own mini stories to tell.
* Every character has an acquire-able fourth weapon, and your team of three simultaneously receives theirs once the basic conditions are met, giving you a bit more replay value
* Every character has minor yet permanent skill bonuses they can achieve that any other character can thereon equip as their own, which adds some objectivity and reward
* You may combine existing weapons to create stronger ones, which is a nice curve to have amidst a system that gives you a random weapon drop
* As well as entities from historical periods, you may play as a few which exist from legend; and since these legendary characters are more powerful than regular characters, a new dynamic is introduced, and it fits the context
* There are a fair variety of enemy types, ranging from one enemy who can stretch his arms to a giant-like hog wielding a club. This is good because reality is meant to be facing legend.
* Depending on what force you play as in the story mode you get somewhat of a feel of that force's culture: Wei is to ambitiousness and progression; Wu is to pride and assertiveness; Shu is to virtue and benevolence; Orochi is to lust and power. Thus, even if some of the characters that are a part of each force aren't very memorable, collectively they are much more.
* There are wallpapers and other unlockables for every character, and each of them can be easily accessed via a Gallery mode
* The achievements are straightforward and the majority of them are payoffs for going the extra mile in missions (meeting Skill conditions and treasure conditions), which discourages monotony
* The controls are not complicated at all, and everything plays out pretty intuitively

--------------- Cons:

* There is no online co-op or online versus play
* The graphics are PS2-port quality
* The draw distance is very poor and there are occasional slow downs
* Every character, like in previous and newer games, usually has a mere keyword to represent what kind of person they are: they are more of a leftover moveset than a person from history
* Though the stories are long and filled with dialogue between characters the dialogue is often sappy and the writing is bad. 'Attack person A through C to have them help us' or 'Orochi has come back to life?! Then we must stop him' is basically all that is ever said
* The mission environments are highly forgettable, dreary, uninteresting, and overall, serve as a caricature of what should have been an actual battlefield
* The mission environment's open roaming makes each battle feel unorganized, un-thought out, too similar to one another, and random
* The enemy and ally AI isn't very good, and none of them have any of the teamwork capabilities that you have
* The basic enemies are mainly mindless and have close to no attacks of their own, and since there can only be about thirty to forty enemies on the screen at a time, it feels more like you are wailing on standing -> moving target boards, not foes
* As you level up and acquire more skills you still feel relatively the same, and the standard deviation is just higher attack and defense for your character
* Even with treasures to obtain to add a new objective to missions, given how every story involves warfare at a point of extremity, you don't feel its tension or the wit-play that would be necessary, making missions dull
* The game incorporates too many gimmicks such as meeting conditions in a mission to activate a character Strategy, which are mission to mission upgrades that don't even help you
* The music doesn't appeal to any emotions, and most of them are just basic, light rock tunes that won't be remembered
* The sound effects can be grainy, and all that you will really be hearing are the cheap cries of the soldiers you smack around
* Though the game uses a graph to tell you who (ally or foe) is situated where, its use is always for negative purposes such as defending an ally, a set of allies, or defeating a foe who will be attacking those allies.
* You have incentives to work as a team, but nothing is stopping you from allocating all of your level points to a Power character and then plowing through most of each mission as them singlehandedly without a break of sweat, which means the game desperately needs to be a bigger challenge for the player.
* The team mechanics aside the regular fighting mechanics are far too simple for their own comfort, and can make you feel air-headed if there is no immediate officer to fight

---------- Conclusion:

Warriors Orochi 2 may look like a PS2 game and has many other PS2 qualities but its unique fighting system allows and encourages plenty of variability by incorporating so many unique characters, all of which neatly placed into a class of their own. As a result, its variability, good organization, and huge roster of unique fighters make it a solid game. Now if it were just powered up to Ninety-Nine Nights in terms of its graphics engine and improved fighting mechanics we'd have a much better game at hand. Until then Warriors Orochi 2 stands tall enough not to be mediocre because of its original, self-supporting fighting system.