Way of the Samurai 3 Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
Way of the Samurai 3 box art
System: X360, PS3 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Acquire Corp. 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: UFO Interactive Games, Inc. 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 13, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
He Who Lives by the Sword
by Robert VerBruggen

Japan’s Sengoku period was not an enjoyable one; historians also call it the “Warring States” period for a reason. Natural disasters, excessive taxation, and a feudal system of government combined to put the population on edge and at odds with itself. Competing localities, and competing classes within localities, hacked each other to pieces for more than a century.

Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot

Way of the Samurai 3 warps players back in time to this period, and combines a number of great ideas in doing so. The game features the swordfighting of the three-dimensional Zelda games, the open-world gameplay of the Grand Theft Auto series, the multiple endings of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel (remember those?), and even a touch of the emphasis on character stats and alliances that an RPG has. Not everything here works, but enough of it does to make Way of the Samurai 3 a recommended buy.

As the game begins, you’re injured, and several men offer to help you. If you go with them, they nurse you back to health and ask you not to cause trouble in their homeland. You’re then released into a fictional land of competing factions called Amana. The territory’s feudal lord is named Shuzen. The Fujimori clan is the most powerful one, but it has been forcing the members of the Takatane Village to work too hard and pay too much in taxes, and they’re growing angry. The Ouka Clan, meanwhile, is made up of malcontents who’d like to defeat the Fujimori clan and overthrow Shuzen.

Advertisement

As in a Grand Theft Auto game, you’re given a wide variety of missions to choose from. But unlike the famous street-crime franchise, Way of the Samurai 3 makes your choices count for something almost all the time. You lose points for wanton murder, and while you don’t need to join any particular faction, helping one can turn the others against you. At any point during a cutscene, you can draw your weapon and escalate the situation with the press of a button. You also navigate dialogue trees that affect the game. Depending on how you play your cards, you can see more than 15 different endings.

Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot

To encourage players to get the most out of the multiple paths, the game is actually built to be replayed. Your weapons and statistics carry over from game to game, and some bonus features don’t unlock until you’ve played a couple times. Each playthrough lasts only a few hours, but there’s always a different choice to make in the game’s universe. What would happen if you just started killing everything in sight, right off the bat? You can whack almost every character in the game, save children and animals; you can also “blunt” your attacks so that defeated characters come back. What if you allied with the Ouka instead of the Fujimori? What if you avoided fighting whenever possible? Here you can go ahead and find out. Be careful when you die, though, because if you choose not to save, you start back from the beginning.

Unfortunately, each playthrough is less impressive than the last. There are only eight areas to explore, with loading times between each, and while the game’s visuals aren’t awful, they don’t do much to hold the player’s attention. The normal open-world glitches show up (different leaves “pop in” on the trees periodically), there’s not as much detail as one would like, the non-player characters aren’t too interesting, the facial animation during cutscenes is awful, and there’s quite a bit of aliasing. The sound seems a bit outdated, with the characters speaking through text bubbles (the sparse voice acting is an odd mixture of Japanese-sounding grunts and the occasional English line, so you have to read most of your conversations in text bubbles). It’s not a fair comparison, given that Grand Theft Auto IV cost around $100 million to make, but it has to be said: Amana is no Liberty City.

Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot

Screenshots / Images
Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot - click to enlarge Way of the Samurai 3 screenshot - click to enlarge

X
"Like" CheatCC on Facebook