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REVIEW / Samurai Warriors 4: Empires (PS4)

 

The Samurai Warriors franchise has garnered a huge following that can only be attributed to its ability to completely capture the gamer’s imagination by putting you directly into harms way and forcing you to fight your way through literally hundreds of enemies hellbent on taking you down.  The amazingly detailed stories and deep adventures notwithstanding, if you are playing a Samurai Warriors game, you know that you will be up to your neck in cool weapons, even cooler mounts and hordes of enemies to fight.  But what if you could do more than just fight?  What if you had the ability to actually plan out your strategy for your chosen clan while choosing the people around you who will help to make your ambitions of prosperity and territorial dominance into reality?

 

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This is where you will do all of your pre-battle preparations. You must meet with your advisors to plan the best route to victory.

 

If you picked up Samurai Warriors 4 then you will be happy to learn that Samurai Warriors 4 Empires is an alternative take on the events that happened in that game and ups the ante by adding strategy-focused gameplay where you can create your own character, place that character in the lower ranks of the clan of your choice and take her/him up through those ranks to eventually rule the entire land through brutal conquest.  Koei Tecmo presents a revamped version of the game that originally appeared on the PS2 with improved gameplay mechanics, an expanded, intuitive governing system, and an existential exploration of the importance of building alliances and extensive relationships in a time of war.

 

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This screen lets you check out the details of the other clans. It will update as changes in the region take place.

 

Unlike the other entries in the Samurai Warriors franchise where you are immediately thrust onto the battlefield, Samurai Warriors 4 Empires lets you create your own character, choose a clan in which to grow and place key personnel in positions of importance before you take the battlefield.  Choosing which clan you are going to represent isn’t so easy, however.  You have a good number to choose from and you must choose wisely because in the beginning, different clans have different strengths and weakness.  You must take into consideration troop strength, the amount of resources and money as well as the current situation regarding allies and the location of the clan on the game map.  In addition, each clan will have preset skill-sets such as facilities to produce weapons, gold mines, land to grow food, stables to breed strong horses or dojo’s to train ninjas.  Once you have completed this step, you must then assign the members of your clan to the necessary positions in politics, the military and personnel to ensure that your clan is in a superior position to your enemies.

 

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It’s important to pair individuals that will be able to work well together as can been seen with the little blue emojis next to their names. If one is smiling and one is frowning, those two people hate each other and will be less effective and proposing good directives.

 

The visuals in Samurai Warriors 4 Empires are nothing short of spectacular and are in-line with recent releases in the franchise.  The character designs are brightly colored and very ornamental which adds a sense of uniqueness to each character that you can control as well as the many NPCs that you will come into contact with.  The different armor designs are intricately detailed and are obviously set in the styles of the time period that the game takes place in (1500s Japan).  The castle which will serve as your base of operations and the place where you will plot your political decisions will reflect your prosperity on the battlefield and will change and grow as your clan and its territories grow.  This is a very beautiful game to look at which makes it that much easier to become engrossed in building a clan that is one not to be taken lightly.

 

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The story is very deep and kept me engaged during my play-through.

 

The soundtrack and sound effects in Samurai Warriors 4 Empires are definitely on par with recent releases as well and really adds a touch of authenticity to this title.  Heading out onto the battlefield will conjure up tunes that are upbeat and which complement the tasks at hand which usually involve you conquering a neighboring clan.  At the same time, as you are plotting your clans course to greatness while dealing with your political, military and personnel advisors, the music is more calm and serene so that you can make the best choices for the future of your clan.  The voice-overs are also a plus as the Japanese voice actors really do a great job of bringing the dialogue to life and making the characters fell alive.  Koei Tecmo really does a top-notch job of creating music and effects that leaves you no choice but to become engrossed in their games and that is a fact that you can always bet on.

 

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Battles have time limits and can be shortened or lengthened depending on how much gold and resources you can afford to spend.

 

One issue that I continually have with the Samurai Warriors franchise is their failure to include English voice-overs.  When in battle, you are given English subtitles and often important information is imparted to you while you are facing literally hordes of oncoming enemies and I often found myself missing important info.  While trying to focus on reading what is being spoken, I would end up taking a considerable amount of damage simply because I wasn’t looking at the action going on on-screen.  Other than that issue, this is a game that offers more to the player than just hack-and-slash mayhem.  You have to think about situations like how the people that reside in your territories are going to react when you must levy taxes on them to support your standing armies as well as how well the people that you recruit will work with one another.  Strategy plays an even bigger role in this game in your eventual success or failure so knowing how and when to use diplomacy will help you to gain greatness.

 

 

This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.

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