has become one of the PlayStation 2's most highly anticipated
games, promising a worthy offering from the “survival horror”
genre for which Capcom is noted. It has already become the highest
selling PS2 game in Japan, and now with its North American release,
can it live up to the high standards gamers expect from it? Or
will it be horribly bashed on like Squaresoft's The Bouncer?
Well, let's just say I came away very pleased when playing this
Boy, are they a doozey! The game is set on top of beautifully
pre-rendered backgrounds, with highly detailed character models.
The characters move realistically, through extensive motion capturing
by Capcom, and it definitely shows. The fluency of each slash
from your katana is truly a wonder; add in the glowing saber effects,
and blood splashing from each hit, and you got yourself a keeper!
The in-game cut scenes are extremely detailed, since most of the
power of the PS2 is spent on rendering the polygonal characters,
rather than the high-resolution backgrounds. The faces of Samanosuke
and Kaede scream quality, and are the most realistic depiction
of a fictional character I have ever seen. The amazing thing is
that despite being done with pre-rendered backgrounds, Capcom
has managed to add wonderful particle and lighting effects (a
real time flame on a pre-rendered torch) seamlessly into the game.
It's much easier to appreciate this when you have six enemies
attacking you with no slowdown to the game whatsoever.
Artistically, the game is beautiful. Set in feudal Japan, you
get to view the serenity of Japanese architecture and forest settings.
Of course, this all balances when you see the nice disfigured
samurai demons with their flesh falling off and their ribcages
exposed. Though it isn't as bad as Resident Evil, it still
isn't for the weak at heart. The direction of the game has a very
Resident Evil feel to it as well, with the camera angles
giving it a survival horror feel.
And of course, there are the magnificently directed and animated
FMVs. Capcom sure didn't spare any expenses for the movies in
this game, as you may well know after seeing just the epic battle
sequence in the beginning. The amount of detail and sheer scale
of the battle is amazing, truly a thing to behold. The motion
capture of each character is easily mistakable for a real person,
and the direction of the movies gives an incredibly epic feel
to the game. Like the back of the game box says, the game is "a
true cinematic gaming experience!"
In a way, Capcom really hasn't strayed too much from their previous
games. Movement is controlled from a first person perspective,
so moving forward would require you to push up, no matter what
angle you see the game at, a la Resident Evil. As stated
before, the game also uses several camera angles to give you a
survival horror feel, and at many times things just plunge out
of nowhere at you.
And though the idea and structure of the game is very similar
to that of the RE series, its differences change the game greatly.
Instead of the slow paced action within the RE series, Onimusha
focuses much more on action, and would place the game under more
of a "survival action" sub-sub-genre. And as it should be, the
action is quick and smooth.
The simple press of the Square button controls attack. Pressing
Square in succession will unleash a barrage of slashing attacks
on a foe. The great thing is that there is very little recovery
time between each chain of slashes, so even if four enemies barrage
you at once, you will easily be able to get out of the pinch.
Now of course, there are times when your trusty slashes won't
get you out of a trap, so you'll have to use the special magical
attacks of your sword. Depending on which sword you have (lightning,
fire, wind), you will be able to pull off a special attack of
that element at the cost of some of your magical bar.
Now, for all you RE fans, you're probably asking 'what about the
R1 button?' which has always been used to attack. In Onimusha,
R1 plays a big part, as it automatically aims you towards the
closest enemy, and puts you in a duel position. Moving left and
right in this mode will cause you to strafe around the target,
making it easier to dodge attacks, and get around the enemy. Pushing
up or down while in R1 mode will also cause you to hop toward
or away from the targeted enemy, making approaching and fleeing
much easier. Also, R1 in conjunction with a well-timed Square
at the moment of the enemy’s attack will cause Samanosuke to do
a quick dodge and powerful counter-attack. I've managed to hit
three demons with one counter-attack, killing them all (teaches
them to mess with me!). The gameplay in Onimusha is very
simple to use, yet takes a long time and much dexterity and quickness
After every kill, a demon's body will decompose away, and their
soul/s will start floating away. Throughout the game you will
need to collect these souls, which happen to come in three flavors
(red/cherry, yellow/pear, and blue/blueberry). Ok, so they don't
really come in those flavors, but they come in those colors. Red
souls are added to your Gauntlet, which is given to you by mysterious
spirits called Ogres to combat the demons, and spent at save points
to upgrade your weapons, orbs (which open sealed doors), and items
(no more mixing herbs!). Yellow souls refill your life bar, and
blue souls reveal your magic. Of course, red souls are the most
abundant as you will be spending them a lot, while yellow and
blue souls are relatively hard to find.
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