Pros: Fluid controls, two different characters, lots of weapons, great
Cons: Relatively short, low replay value
It's been a while since we've seen the Samurai warrior Samanosuke
starring in another installation in the Onimusha series. Onimusha:
Warlords, originally a Playstation 2 launch title, was released back in
2001 and was a top selling title around the world. When Onimusha 2 was
released Samanosuke was absent, instead a new character named Jubei took
the lead role. Three years later we finally get to see what has become
of Samanosuke in the conclusion to the Onimusha saga.
The game starts out in an intense battle between Samanosuke and a
horde of demons. Samanosuke is approaching a victory against the demon
forces when he is suddenly thrown through time to 2004. Samanosuke
arrives at the perfect time because Jacques, the other main character,
is being swamped by demons invading Paris. When Samanosuke lends a hand
Jacques is taken back to Samanosuke's era, 1500 AD feudal Japan. Both
are on a quest to eliminate the source of evil and return home.
While Onimusha was originally based on the Resident Evil series,
Onimusha 3 more accurately represents an action game like Devil May Cry.
Instead of the rigid control scheme used by the Resident Evil series,
Onimusha 3 has fluid controls. Moving the analog stick around will
directly move your character, instead of just turning him. Attacks can
be dealt by hitting the square button or the triangle button. The square
button is your primary source of attack, while the triangle button gives
out a cool looking magic combo that takes up some energy. The fluid
control scheme helps Onimusha 3 out a lot. Instead of the game being
another adventure game, it is more fast paced since you can directly
control your character. At the same time Capcom managed to include
puzzles you would normally see in an adventure game. Many of the puzzles
has either Samanosuke or Jacques running around in search of an item.
Although, one of the characters is in the past and can provide some
required assistance to solve puzzles. Capcom's inclusion of time
traveling puzzles adds a unique feel to rather simple puzzles. You have
to rely on using your partner who is stuck in the past to alter the
world of the future to complete a puzzle.
Onimusha 3 isn't all puzzles, although it is a large part of the game
the bulk of the game is hack and slashing. Honestly, what is an action
game with out cool moves? Onimusha 3 has plenty of moves packed into
both Samanosuke and Jacques. When playing as the famous Samurai you have
a simple combo that can be let out by pressing square. If you can knock
an enemy to the ground with a combo you can stab downwards by holding
down and square. This is a useful move that eliminates an enemy and looks
pretty cool. Samanosuke also has a secondary long range weapon, the bow.
The problem with the bow is its both weak and uses arrows. Which means
you won't be using the bow too much, mainly for knocking winged demons
out of the sky. Jacques starts the game out with a gun, that you lose
quickly because there are no bullets in feudal Japan. Instead he comes
across a glowing whip that can be used to pick up boulders to throw at
enemies and to wrap around and grab enemies. The normal moves defiantly
look cool since the character movements are pretty fluid, even when
switching to attack an adjacent opponent. Perhaps the most visually
spectacular moves are the special magic based attacks that can be used
by pressing triangle. These attacks are both a visual treat and are
effective in pushing back a number of enemies. Battling demons using
your special move will take up some of your special meter bar and in
general battling demons means you'll be losing some life. Luckily both
Jacques and Samanosuke come equipped with soul absorbers, which can be
used to absorb life, special meter energy and weapon upgrades. Learning
to absorb souls is a crucial part of the game, since it is the main
source of recovering your character. If these moves aren't enough for
you Onimusha 3 packs in more weapons and each weapon has a different set
of attacks and a different special move. Different weapons have
different ranges too. For instance using a sword will have less range
than blasting away with a gun. Knowing when to use and how to use a
weapon could mean life or death.
While Onimusha 3 isn't exactly a hard game (unless you don't absorb
souls), there are points in the game where you will have to use different weapons. Therefore, it is important to collect more
weapons and get a feel for using them before you encounter a boss enemy. Onimusha
3 gives you plenty of guys to practice against since demons will spawn
instead of being fixated on the map. At times when there are more than a
few opponents on screen you can notice a little slowdown in between
moves, but this is a minor problem. One thing that takes some time to
get used to is the camera switching views during fighting. If you move
too far off the map, or worse get knocked into a different area the
camera could make a completely different angle. At times this obstructs
your view from seeing incoming enemies. While no camera can be perfect
it does take some time to get used to.
Onimusha 3 has another depart from past games. Instead of using flat
2D pre rendered backgrounds Onimusha is completely in 3D. The world is
3D modeled and the characters sprites are too. Honestly speaking, the
visuals are very well done. The sprites are large and have incredible
detail. There is some jaggedness in Samanosuke's hair and a Jacques
coat, but once again it's minor. The backgrounds are equally impressive,
the environments are ripe with scenery. When you're in the forest you
feel like you're in a forest since you're surrounded by trees and other
shrubbery. While the in game graphics are great, the FMVs are even
better. They feature the quality of animation seen in a Square Enix
video. If there was one graphical suggestion that I would make would be
to have a little more variety in the amount of enemies in the game.
Especially at the start of the game you're going to be fighting the same
demons over and over again.
Audio wise Onimusha 3 has some good voice acting. Jacques' French
accent doesn't sound fake, instead it sounds authentic. As do the other
troops in 2004 Paris. There is a little bit of awkward voice acting for
Jacques when he suddenly learns to speak Japanese due to the help of a
black winged fairy. Although a few minutes after he learns Japanese
you'll get used to the slight accent. Samanosuke sounds like he has a
good voice actor, too. You can tell the different emotions he's trying
to convey clearly. However, the voice acting for a domestic release may
change. Remember the blasphemy of voice acting that was in Onimusha 2?
It may be like that again or it may not. Onimusha 3 also takes advantage
of a multi speaker surround sound system. When demons are shouting from
different parts of the screen you can find them just by listening. The
music is a little lacking, for the most part its environmental sound
effects. While its nice in the feudal area it would be nice to have some
actual music in the game.
Onimusha 3's greatest problem is more a problem of the genre. Once
you beat the game its pretty much done with. You can go back for a
second play through to unlock more costumes, but there isn't too much to
do a second time around. For a first time through the game's length
varies around 12-15 hours depending on how quickly you solve puzzles.
Like many other action games, while it may be short its fun to play
Not really on the import friendly side. All of the menus are in
Japanese, which can become a problem if you're trying to locate a
specific item. This is also troublesome for some of the puzzles. The
voice acting and subtitles are in Japanese, too. Which means you'll miss
out on the story.
Onimusha 3 is set to for an American release in May.
The many fans of the series won't hesitate to purchase this game.
Even players who weren't fans of the original Onimusha games will like
this more since its more action oriented.