Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Review: "Samurai Legend: Musashi"

Looking through my old PS2 game pouch, I chanced upon a game that I have actually completed. So I wanted to write a review, but I can't remember anything about the game other than being very tiring. I decided to find out and slotted the DVD into the PS2.

Samurai Legend: Musashi is in many ways alike to it's PS1 predecessor, Brave Fencer Musashi, although both stories does not interlink. It is an action/adventure game.

The game kicked off in a rather good start. You will see a really overdone cell-shading effect as the game's overall graphical direction, making the game rather colorful and outstanding. At the time this game was released, it was beautiful. Story is a bit lacking. Upon watching the first introduction scene, you can easily guess the whole story already. It's the traditional girl-gets-kidnapped-hero-come-to-rescue plot. Even worse, the story involves going to 5 different-themed elemental dungeons. But look at the bright side, at least the voice acting is quite decent.

Overdone but beautiful cell-shading

Basically, the whole town (which is actually a floating whale or something) was attacked by baddies and everyone evacuated all over the world. One of your side-jobs (albeit an important one) is to find the citizens of the town, who were trapped in crystals and you must break them open (and they call these crystals "escape pods"). Rescuing them will make them appear at the town and most of them will offer various services like the Arena, General Store, Appraisal, Item Combine, etc. If you have played RPGs long enough, you will actually know what all of them do without even a explanation.

Combat mechanics is actually quite interesting...on paper. The key feature of this game's combat system is that Musashi can unlock abilities for himself. By holding "R1", Musashi will lock onto a target and charge his 'focus' gauge. When it is full, you'll have to wait for the target to unleash a specific attack on you, in which the game will temporary freeze. During the freeze time, you press the Square button and follow the instructions stated. Upon doing so, you will learn the ability. Some costs mana. Some doesn't. And with so many abilities to learn, it isn't surprising that most of them becomes obsolete after some time.

That's about the most interesting mechanic there is in the game. Combat overall feels horribly dull and grindish. All the enemies can be defeated the same way: Square, Square, Square, Square, Square - which is actually the first move you learn in the game. It is probably the fastest way to level up your character, other than spamming the overdrive move which costs like half your mana. By the way, the X-spamming move is actually rather slow, espacially towards the end. Since the game uses this move as its staple bread and butter combo to defeat foes, combat ended up being quite slow. Don't worry though, foes are quite slow, predictable and dumb too so you can actually keep mashing until you see something coming, then stop and defend.

I learnt the best move in the game!

Boss fights may seem quite cinematic (as they should), but even though they are different in looks and attacks, they are still fundamentally the same. Somewhere in between, they will throw out an attack that leaves them vulnerable, and then you attack. Nothing much to comment on here.

Oh yes, not forgetting a key 'feature' to the game - "Carrying". Some of the people needs to be rescued, but due to some silly excuse ("My leg fell asleep!"), Musashi have to end up carrying them, limitating your attacks. One attack that can be noted is the spin attack done by throwing the victim up and pressing "Square". That attack is quite powerful and is worthy to note, but otherwise, "Carrying" is to create yet another limitation to your already limited movesets.

That's all there is to the game. It is actually a pretty long game, considering that there seemed to be endless amount of enemies to be defeated (the same way over and over). Despite my tone in this review, this game is still worthy of a runthrough. Like I mentioned, the graphics are great, the voice acting is also pretty decent. Music and sound are also done nicely, making fighting (or grinding) mobs at least a bit more tolerable. A small little effect that did that I actually enjoyed was the way mobs are defeated. Depending on the way Musashi swings his sword, when the opponent dies of that hit, he will freeze and be sliced at the exactly way the sword sliced him.

Here a small gameplay video:

Overally, great graphics and sounds, average mechanics, boring combat. Still worth a chance.

- Great graphics
- Good sound and music
- Good art direction
- Decent RPG mechanics
- Learning abilities is actually quite fun and cool to watch.
- Good voice acting

- Boring Combat
- Learned abilities become obsolete fast.
- Draggy overall experience
- Bad story filled with an incredible load of 'cliche'
- Did I say 'Boring combat'?

NeetGeek gives "Samurai Legend: Musashi": 6.5/10

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