Bushido Blade 2
by SquareSoft Reviewed by: Chad Foster
If you've ever dreamed of getting into a swordfight where a small mistake can lead to death or the flick of the wrist at the right moment clinches victory, then enter the world of Bushido Blade 2, one of the most realistic fighting games on the market. The game boasts six main characters interacting in an entertaining storyline of the bitter battle between the Kagami and Sue family as seen from their point of views.
The original Bushido Blade was heavy in depth and had a strong following, which included web sites dedicated to the game, but was unfortunately light on characters. SquareSoft's second offering has vastly improved the game play, created sharper graphics, increased single player option settings and has many more characters to choose from. If the idea of swordfighting has ever intrigued you or you tire of unrealistic characters, then this game is for you.
Like its predecessor, instead of fireballs, lightning bolts or impossibly quick feet/hands, Bushido Blade 2 tries to create a true fighting simulation. The only time SquareSoft strayed from this formula was for the Kagami clan leader, who has some magic powers. I found this a real disappointment and felt they shouldn't have cheapened the realism and uniqueness of this game by including it, but is easily forgiven since this was the only exception. The character and weapon combinations that are available also sets this game apart from the other fighting simulations on the market. In most other games you're stuck with whatever weapon the character comes with, but with BB2 you're able to use any of the weapons, which can completely change how a character fights.
Just as in a real sword fight, there are one-hit kills, which might be a bit too real for some gamers, and instead of life meters there is a body damage system. Arms can still be rendered unusable, leg wounds result in slower movement and hits to the torso cause attack speed to slow down quite a bit. This is a welcome break from the hobbled legs that occurred in BB1, more annoying than fun, especially if both of you ended up hobbled.
Each character also gets a sub-weapon, some deadlier than others. For example the iron fan is a slow moving object that can score a one-hit kill, the Kozuka are throwing knives that can be thrown consecutively and are very fast, while the Kodachi is a secondary sword. There are also some gun-toting enemies that can improve your running skills as you try to hack them down before eating some steel. Each family has a member where the gun is clearly their weapon of choice, but I was shocked when one of the ninja's pulled out a gun as their sub-weapon and drilled a bullet between my eyes.
The controls have been changed and simplified. There are now two attack buttons and no parry button. This is a great change because in BB1 the parry button was too effective and a bit cheesy because you could block with ease. To block attacks now, you simply have to use the opposite attack of your opponent which then parries their weapon. For example, if the opponent attacks with a frontal attack, you have to attack with a reverse attack for a "perfect" defense; otherwise, you lose your balance for a split second. This counter attack/defense system is ultra easy to learn, fair and arguably the best out there. There is also a stance button that rotates between high, middle and low stances and changes the fighting techniques and strategy of every character depending on which stance you're currently in. Unfortunately they took out a lot of the side-step attacks, which is a real disappointment because there are times when you wish you had them at your disposal.
While the six characters are going through the story, they encounter supporting characters that become available to select from the main menu if they survive. When you complete a stage as the support character without dying he'll be unlocked for play in all modes, which can be a lot of fun to then take them through the story mode.
Single player mode got revamped and now includes a first-person perspective view that includes a Punch Out-like green wire frame. Also the story revolves around two feuding families where in each stage you duke it out with a few ninjas before fighting the boss from the opposing family. This is a lot more entertaining than BB1 where you just fought a couple of other characters and a boss or two.
All the characters have been given a makeover and they look a lot sharper. During the cinema cut scenes you can see each character's mouth move, and they were given realistic-looking body movements. What is really cool is that the supporting characters were given their own cinemas, voices and story point of views. Unfortunately, the background doesn't look quite as clean as it did in BB1, but the loss is well worth the better character animations. The sound is pretty good and includes weapon clashes, grunts, screams, strikes and parries. The voice work isn't the greatest I've ever heard, but it isn't hideously terrible either.
This game is a definite winner and will make your blood pressure soar in excitement if you're a gamer who enjoys fighting. The realistic fighting, great graphics and entertaining story line deliver value for its price. This title would make a great Christmas gift for just about anyone.
Review Posted On 16 November 1998.
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