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PSP Fanboy review: Warriors Orochi

What can we say? Koei likes their Warriors formula. There's something different about Warriors Orochi though. Even though we've sifted through similar games, nay, almost identical games in the past, this title stands out. Perhaps it's the fact it's not lifted from the pages of history. Perhaps it's the sheer size of the character roster. Maybe we were just bored. Still, for Warriors fans, Warriors Orochi is the best of the franchise on the PSP, but everyone else will find the game repetitive and just like the others.

Gallery: Warriors Orochi

The story is simple: evil demon Orochi uses his "mystical abilities" to bend time and space, forcing the characters from Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors to fight one another and against the Orochi Army. The plot is threadbare, but it's interesting to see the game take a different approach than historical battles from China and Japan. In this game, you start with a small force in either the Wu, Wei, Shu, or Samurai Warriors camp and go on to find and rescue your comrades while making friends along the way. A total of 77 friends. The roster is impressive, but everyone plays essentially the same -- we'd really like to see why they labeled the characters with different "classes" when it doesn't really matter.

See, each character is either a "Speed", "Tech", or "Power" fighter. It doesn't matter or mean anything, apparently, as levels are just as easy regardless of your character lineup. You can choose to take three warriors with you for each mission and switch between them on the fly. Again, it doesn't really matter other than for chaining together Musou Attacks, which are horribly less valuable than other iterations in the franchise. So long as you don't care who's on your team, there are 77 characters with the ability to choose 3 at a time. We forget the formula to figure out how many potential combinations that gives you, but it's a lot. Other than the character roster, a few other bits of the game deserve mentioning: the maps and customization.

Why are we mentioning the maps? Because unlike other handheld Warriors games, this one actually gives you an entire battlefield to run around on instead of blocking it off into chunks. There are quite a few maps, as well. The only problem is you can't see very far on them and there's essentially no detail in the maps at all: a poop brown road against a dim blue sky is more or less what you'll see. Granted, the locales are varied, but there's nothing really to write home about from a technical standpoint. What deserves our accolade, though, is the very fact this game feels at home on the PSP. This rendition just ... works. It's hard to explain, but holding something so epic and giant in your hands is pretty cool. Not many other games have created such a giant world to destroy enemies in other than, like, Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron. This is why we say for Warriors fans, Orochi is the definitive handheld experience.

Customization also makes this game a pretty fun journey. Across 77 different people (did we mention that already?) you can customize what abilities you have (increased speed, defense, et cetera) but you have a very intense weapon customization system. As you gain weapons in battle, you'll notice some have abilities attached to them like a fire element or increased attack range. After battle, you can use the growth points you gained from the fight to fuse weapons together. This allows you to increase the number of slots available for you to equip the aforementioned abilities as well as the weapon's base attack. It can get pretty intense, but while this is really cool, it's something we've seen before. Ever play the first Parasite Eve? The customization system is somewhat like that, but easier. If you don't customize your weapons, the game won't punish you. It's not necessary by any means, but it's a waste if you don't.

Overall, the game has great customization options, a large number of maps and missions, a huge character roster, but ultimately falls to the curse of the Warriors franchise. A weak story, repetitive gameplay, and completely generic and replaceable characters. The PSP fits this game really well and it feels quite epic to have in the palm(s) of your hand(s), so in a way, we kind of hope Koei leaves the tired Warriors formula on the PSP and uses consoles to try something fresh. This is a fun diversion, but doesn't bring anything new to the table. Veterans, you'll enjoy. Everyone else can give it a shot, enjoy it briefly, but ultimately forget about it. We liked it, but the point of this review is to be objective, right? It's good. Not great, but good.

PSP Fanboy Score: 6.5

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