Among those, there are a few other mini-games that include Hanafuda at the gambling den and Poker at the casino. Don’t like gambling? Try your hand at some fishing. You can even own your own dojo and take in pupils while also challenging opponents (strange opponents I might add) who come from rival dojos. My only concern is that challenges can spring up literally one after another by just going to another area. If you don’t act quick enough your pupils will start dying on you. At times it’s better to just leave your dojo unattended in future play throughs as you will start to see the game pushing your limit in this regard.
There is also the “Crossroads Killing”, a PSN mechanic that uploads your character data and sends it to another player’s game world where he/she will appear as an enemy NPC. You can defeat them for their unique custom made swords. At first there were problems and it didn’t seem to work, but after an update I started seeing many characters, and there were times I wished I didn’t run into them; a “trollish” new mechanic if you will. Seeing such diversity of characters on the road make it all the worth while to keep trekking and collect as many swords as possible. More side missions than you can count have been added, the majority of which are a bit unique, and enough benefits that make them not feel like a chore which the previous game suffered greatly from.
Character and Weapon Customization is back in full force, but this time in a greater degree. There are numerous weapon parts throughout the game so you can make the sword that suits your taste. For characters, you don’t have many options in the beginning, but by progressing with the story, buying clothes/accessories at shops or by buying items with “Samurai Points” you can make your character look like another character, or even make him/her look like a giant gourd. A lot of fun to be had here, and you can save up to 5 of these character sets so you can go back to whatever you previously looked like with no problem.
The game carries the series infamous tradition of having so much to do, whilst explaining very little. While I love the fact that they throw you into a world that lets you learn everything it has to offer on your own, many others won’t take this kindly to this. One of my biggest problems with the game is there is no load or “soft-reset” option; only by leaving the town or dying can you load back to a previous save which for this type of game is a MUST HAVE! As the tedium of load times drives me up the wall. The game can also be quite a grind fest as gaining strong weapons is a necessity when playing on harder difficulties; in a way like an RPG so a word of caution, be prepared to be sucked in for hours at a time. This is one game you can’t really expect pick up and play for only 30 minutes to an hour.
Presentation wise… well let’s face it, the game’s visuals will not impress anyone. Sure the visuals have improved over the previous game, but like that game, the game still looks dated; like last-gen dated. Character models are decent, and environments do their job just fine, but the overall quality of it all leaves much to be desired. AI are at a crossroads; at times they can act as they’re supposed to, other times they don’t react at all. Thankfully the city does feel alive on occasions with NPC interaction, with simple conversations, for one to intimidate another, or just straight try to kill each other. The randomness helps with the game’s already weirdness being at an all-time high as you can tell Acquire had a lot of fun with the character designs. Redeem-ably the biggest shock was the game’s soundtrack. Adrenaline pumping, to soft strings, even melancholy melodies that fit with the overall mood and feel of story events, battle, and atmosphere; personal favorites are Little Britain’s map theme, and the climax event battle music.
When it comes to dialogue choices they fit with the mood of the game, and can be gut wrenching at times in the hilarity. All thanks in part to the localization that XSEED Games has done. Everything felt right, every piece of dialog choices that are there for kicks are a joy to read, it was worth it to seek out every bit of them. Nothing feels lost in translation, nothing was censored, all jokes are well thought out. I can feel the game oozed with care, XSEED themselves were probably enjoying this game as much as I did. I commend them for their fantastic work yet again.
Visuals aside, the game suffers from some bugs and glitches. Physics whack out to the point where some bodies got stuck in mid air; on rare occasions I even got stuck on the environment and needed quick travel to get out of those situations. The game also suffers from terrible screen tearing, quite noticeable from the very beginning of the game. There are moments the game lags followed by frame rate issues, slow downs that effect cutscenes which were quite grating as the characters would speak the game then starts chugging, but the game is still trying to carry on with the scene and the subtitles pop in and out very quickly, with me missing out on that piece of dialog. While they aren’t game breaking by any means, Acquire really should have tested this game out a little more before finalizing it.
Obtaining all the endings took me up to 20 hours or more to complete, with an extra 30 for trying do as much as possible, but there is still so much more for me to do. The game can easily clock at 100 hours to do absolutely everything from getting every trophy, to unlocking unlockables; insanity.
Bottom Line: The number of secrets and just overall things to do are staggering. It’s hard to put in words how much the game offers; even now I still find myself learning new things such as charms; finding discoveries one crate smashing at a time. As a huge fan of the series, I’m quite pleased with the overall experience. The game is a barrel of laughs when it contains weapons like a Big Tuna or finding a bodyguard stripped all the way to his boxers, wearing a chef hat with a smoke pipe, who uses boxing gloves as his weapon. It’s random… but so charming.
While this Samurai has his points deducted for a few misconducts; the Samurai easily goes forward with pride and his/her head held up high. Great cast of colorful characters, fantastic localization; it’s a game like no other out there that is neck-deep in content. Way of the Samurai 4 is indeed an improvement in nearly every way. Old fans should take note as this is an entry with quite a bit of depth, while for the new fans who may not have found Way of the Samurai 3 their cup of tea, I recommend you give the series one more try with this one. If you can get past Acquire’s ”Game is broken on purpose” mantra, you will pick this up and never want to let that controller go. Thank you XSEED for localizing yet another great game.
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