Let’s face it: there's something gratifying about cutting through hundreds of enemy warriors like they weren’t even there, and Samurai Warriors: State of War definitely delivers in that respect. Anyone familiar with the series' PS2 releases or its based-in-old-China counterpart Dynasty Warriors will know that the point of these games is simple: to beat the living hell out of entire armies of enemies. As such, elements like story and character development take a backseat to shoving your blades into one foe after another, pausing only to fry them up with the occasional magic attack.
Essentially a port of the console Samurai Warriors games, State of War lets players fight historical battles across 22 new maps created just for the PSP. You can play as 19 different generals, ranging from typical samurai and ninja operatives to a gunman who spews fire magic and a maiden known as "The Venomous Flower." Additionally, players can unlock up to 200 non-playable "subofficers," who will join up once they've been defeated or once certain stages have been cleared. Also, while the PSP port of Dynasty Warriors suffered from slowdown during battles, State of War fixes the problem, enabling frenzied fights with dozens of soldiers at once. The camera sometimes responds slowly to changes in direction, which is disorienting, but it's a minor annoyance.
The game also enables the player and computer-controlled commanders to use "charms" before entering battle. These affect the tide of battle by damaging your opponent's forces, healing your allies or flooding parts of the battlefield, forcing your opponent to change his tactics. These charms make the downtime between battles more entertaining and force you to move your army intelligently to avoid getting slaughtered. Upping the difficulty setting makes the enemy commanders use much smarter strategies, offering you a more intellectual challenge. However, your allies aren't nearly so clever, consistently making poor decisions and refusing to use any charms of their own. If you get tired of computer-controlled opponents, you can match wits with up to three other players and pit your armies against each other using the PSP's Ad Hoc wireless feature.
State of War doesn't offer much variety in terms of gameplay, but it does offer up a fun hack-and-slash game that can be picked up and played for a few minutes or a few hours. Adding some cool new elements to an already-excellent port of the PS2 Samurai Warriors games, State of War is a worthy addition to the series.