Onimusha: Blade Warriors review

Samanosuke and Jubei Yagyu - together at last. But no Jean Reno yet, finds PSM2

First, a warning: this isn't Onimusha 3, despite the fact that the first thing it shows you when it loads up is a huge, incredibly exciting trailer full of Jean Reno. Instead, it's a sort of stopgap featuring all of the best characters so far in a series of duels against more-or-less static backdrops.

Comparisons to Power Stone are inevitable, but they aren't exactly fair. Okay, so the Versus matches tend to be four-way tussles where finding Power-Up crates is just as important as hitting people, but rather than a free-roaming 'ring', combat's restricted to a 2D plane. Complexity's provided by all the enhancements on offer, from special attacks to rubber-duck confusion bombs. Adding to the frantic action, characters spurt energy when they're hit, which can be collected - as in the other games - by holding down X. If two or more characters try this energy-suck at once, it turns into a tug of war, which is where tactical positioning and quick reactions become crucial.

If it still seems a touch simplistic, that's probably because you're unfamiliar with Onimusha's system of parries, counters and critical hits. With practice, it's possible to trounce a whole legion of demon scumbags with barely a scratch to yourself. In solo play you'll smack up half a dozen demons at once, but multiplayer forces you to watch your back and hop around the environment to survive. Special moves reward aggression, but defensive play's equally important thanks to weapons like the shuriken and flame-thrower.

As a way of keeping your Onimusha interest up, Blade Warriors is a moon-mile better than Gun Survivor, but still not as good as a full-fledged sequel. It doesn't exactly ruin the Onimusha name, but it isn't going to totally satisfy your bloodlust either. And with an upgrade system that makes no sense unless you're at least vaguely familiar with Japanese, you're probably better hanging on for part three.

Onimusha: Blade Warriors is out now in Japan and will be released in the UK later this year

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