It has been a long time since any of publisher Koei's Warriors games have felt new. No matter what the setting (this series is in Japan instead of the usual China), you’re still pretty much hacking hundreds of identical dudes into little pieces. Samurai Warriors 2: Xtreme Legends is now the second expansion release for Samurai Warriors 2 (the first being SW2: Empires) and offers even more bonus content for the hackers and the slashers out there. Despite the subtitle’s idea that the new content is "xtreme", it’s pretty average.
You get six new characters with accompanying story modes and two new battlefields, as well as a fifth weapon (apparently it has the most power). Additionally, in an MMO-ish move, the level cap on the characters has been increased from 50 to 70, which is only really useful to the true fanatics who have somehow played SW2 slavishly enough to actually reach the previous level maximum with several of the characters. The game still plays the same as it always has and you probably know by now if you like it or not. Constantly chopping up hundreds of soldiers, using a small amount of strategy in deciding where to go, and choosing the order in which to fight enemy officers is still what it's all about.
Though the ability to level up or get gold and new weapons spices things up a little, if you just keep pressing the square button, use a tiny part of your brain, and try to stay awake, you will no doubt finish every mission. This kind of gameplay may cause a repetitive stress injury in your right thumb, but it's still some fun, for the first few hours anyway.
Even players who don't have SW2 saves on their memory card will find something worth playing. You can experience the full story modes for all six of the new characters as well as go through Free mode and all of the old battlefields using the original characters from the core game. Sure, Free mode lacks the engrossing plots of story mode, but it's no big loss. Of the new characters, only half are any fun to plays as, and Gracia, with her useless bracelets and intentionally annoying personality, is the low point of the group.
At its value price, Xtreme Legends is a fair buy (especially if a PS2 is as current a console as you've got), even if you don't have SW2. In fact, for casual Warriors players, it may even be better to have not played the first game, as the main game probably will make you less likely to want to play the new, but not all that different, content. But really, this game is made for the truest of Samurai Warriors fans looking for some extra content after they played through the same mission for the 30th time. And to them, we offer our pity.
Mar 24, 2008