One Piece: Pirate Warriors Review
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One Piece: Pirate Warriors is a gorgeous game oozing with production value. There's plenty of content on offer, and while gameplay fails to differentiate from the Dynasty Warriors formula, it's hard not to enjoy such a mechanically sound, visually impressive adaptation.
- Amazing presentation, graphics, story, voice acting
- Epic boss fights in awesome settings
- Addictive EXP gain and coin collection
- Basic battles become boring over time
- Removal of the ability to jump in favor of unnecessary "unique actions"
- Recycled Dynasty Warriors content with a new face
Do you love the wacky adventures of Straw Hat Pirates Monkey D. Luffy? Do you enjoy pummeling wave after wave of mindless enemy soldiers in Dynasty Warriors? Namco Bandai and Tecmo Koei have teamed up to combine the two and give you a beautiful anime beat-em-up with this PSN release. Though it's an extremely popular series, One Piece games are somewhat rare in every territory but Japan, so it's nice to see an adaptation show up with such excellent production values and graphical polish. It's a shame that the excellent source material and beautiful paint job can't save the game from being a Dynasty Warriors derivation with very little change or fresh ideas, but there's still plenty of fun content for you to enjoy.
The story follows that of the popular manga and anime. Luffy, founder and leader of the Straw Hat Pirates, serves as our protagonist. His unique ability to stretch his limbs to ridiculous proportions was given to him after he ate a demon "Gum-Gum Fruit". His dream to find the legendary "One Piece" treasure, left by the world's greatest pirate, is the motivation that sets the story in motion. This is also the goal of many of the villains in the series. "Main Log" is the game's main story mode, where Luffy is your frequent main character (playable pals pick up the slack during certain boss fights). If you're a fan of the manga, you'll know what it means to say this mode starts just before Luffy meets Nami and progresses from there. It isn't the longest campaign, but manages to cover just about every important event in the saga. After playing the first chapter of Main Log, players are allowed to select "Another Log", which allows you to choose from characters that have been unlocked and play through other minor story episodes. Though I'm new to the series, I enjoyed the chapters, and I imagine a player already into the lore would absolutely love it.
The visuals in Pirate Warriors are absolutely astounding, and as a PlayStation 3-exclusive title, this is one to brag about. From the view of the sea and sky, to the perfect recreation of every character, textures are smooth and detailed, while colors positively pop off the screen. The game has excellent cutscenes that tell the story of One Piece, often accompanied by quick-time-events that allow you to play out some of the actions in them. If you're opposed to that idea, don't fret; they don't happen too often, and they're usually only used to finish off a boss in dramatic fashion. After exposition scenes, the game usually cuts to a manga-like perspective and has head shots of characters appear while they converse. All of these are still beautifully done, and that visual flair also extends to the environments. Battle stages are very interesting and stylish, but as beautiful as the world is, it'd be nice to see more exploration or something of the sort - battling and small bouts of platforming are the most you'll do in these gorgeous settings.
On par with visuals is the voice acting, which is excellent. Emotion is conveyed well, and comedic lines are delivered with great timing. However, if you're not a fan of subtitles, beware - there is no English voice option to be found. The battle music is jazzy and extremely catchy, though you can still find some Dynasty Warriors-esque cheesy guitar riffs. It sets the tone for the over-the-top, hilarious battles you'll find yourself in. On the flip side, the menu music sounds both epic and calm, and perfectly fits the setting of sailing on the ocean in search of the ultimate treasure. The sound effects in battle are also commendable, and seem as though they've been pulled directly from the anime.
Unfortunately, gameplay is not similarly impressive, and borrows too much from Dynasty Warriors to be comfortable. All of the creative attacks (including Luffy's basic stretch punches and roundhouse kicks) are smoothly animated and fun to use, but after you've slayed 300 mindless opponents with the same 5 or so combinations, those combinations lose their charm. Bosses seem to be the only foes with any sort of decent AI. It's worth saying that the action is enjoyable, and taking out waves of enemies with your elastic limbs feels ... (continued on next page)
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