Friday, 26 October 2012

Review: One Piece: Pirate Warriors (PS3)

The One Piece franchise has been a multi-media juggernaut over the past 15 years; the highest selling manga in Japan since its inception and one of the highest watched TV shows since forever. As everyone knows, a great series deserves a video game tie-in and there have been more than a few in the past, most of which never made it to North America. Truthfully, this has been the first One Piece game that I played that I felt was not only respectful to the source material but actually fun to play.

Purists will grouse on some of the liberties taken by the writers to make a comprehensible game (not all stories translate well into video game mode, which is evidenced by the lack of "Catcher in the Rye" games) however trying to condense this many chapters of manga/anime is a Herculean task and it didn't bother me in the least.

The principle game mode is the "Main Log," which walks you through the major story arcs of the series. Although Main Log features a lot of group combat in the vein of your typical 3rd Person combat game, the addition of puzzle features really helps fill out this mode. The story does an exceptional job of showcasing not only the powers of Luffy, but his inventive nature and odd problem solving technique.

The puzzle portions take some time to figure out but are all logical once you immerse yourself in them; certainly not the kind that will have you jumping online for a walkthrough. Not all of the missions degrade into the typical enemy grinder that you'd expect; the mission with Nami's illness has almost no combat at all; just timed puzzle solving.

The other major game mode is "Another Log": a series of Dynasty Warrior themed missions.

Instead of following the "story" of the Main Log you instead just annihilate baddies while conquering territories and following specific missions that come up. It's a decent homage to Musous, especially when you get to put your super-powered characters into the mix against hordes of unsuspecting victims. Just like the aftermath of a candy-bender post Halloween, I felt that play sessions of Another Log were best kept short and sweet while leaving you wanting more instead of gorging until you never wanted to see this game ever again.

In addition to the 2 main modes, there are some online/multiplayer modes which I found to be a little less enjoyable; just your typical rehash of what you've already done with some random person on PSN… yeah, no thanks.

Visually and aurally the game is awesome; the cell shading animation style for anime-themed games really catches my eye; plus having scores taken from the anime series with the authentic voice acting… PERFECT. You do the early missions and are almost wistful that the start of the original series would have looked and sounded this good.

Negatives? Just like every other Musuo in the past 15 years, some of the camera views are not only awful they actually ruin some stages completely. I ended up having to buy a new controller after one boss fight thanks to the ridiculous forced camera angles. (The trials and tribulations of writing with a deadline). Multiple boss fights are artificially tougher than they need to be; you can either get chewed up once the fight moves to the edges of the map or just take every hit to avoid dodging to the periphery.

Lastly there are a few situations where the camera changes forced perspective during a chase and now your controls are reversed (Seriously? Who does that?). The number of quick time events border on inhumane… you can expect at least 3 quick time sections during each level, add another 2-3 if there's a boss fight at the end of the level. If you hate these like I do, you might want to consider avoiding it.

All in all, I did enjoy playing One Piece: Pirate Warriors there's a lot of love in this title, but some awful too. If you can overlook the warts, you've got a good game.

- Tazman

The Good:
- Original Japanese voice acting!! Yay!
- Interesting fusion of Dynasty Warriors with puzzle dynamics
- Hack and Slash dynamics makes it ideal for those looking for a quick break game

The Bad
- Camera??? Why do you hate me so???
- If you hate quick time games, you may want to skip this game

Score: 7.0 / 10