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Capcom brings the sequel to life, can it stand the test of time?
Raise your swords warriors!! The time has come to battle the forces of darkness in part two of the all powerful Oriental Evil Dead game!! And all I have to say is...groovy! Onimusha 2 takes place a good while after the first game. After the death of the demon king Fortinbras at the hands of Samanosuke, Nobunaga Oda takes the throne and begins to finish what he started years ago. The game places you in the bamboo shoes of Jubei Yagyu, a young chief of the prestigious demon slaying Yagyu clan that has been wiped out by Nobunaga. After over viewing the aftermath, and fighting a number of Nobunaga's troops, Jubei finds a woman floating over a pond. (The Lady of the Lake perhaps?...No) She tells him who destroyed the village and tells him of the legacy of the Oni clan; incidentally his descendants. She explains the legacy of five orbs that were formed to fight the demons and the importance of finding them. Then she gives him the power to absorb souls through a crest in the palm of his left hand. Nope....no upgradeable Ogre Gauntlet, just a little crest (which I'll get into the gameplay aspect of it momentarily) Jubei now is on a quest to kill Nobunaga and avenge the death of his people...but not alone...you will meet up with four other people, all involved with the situation at hand and willing to lend you one...
Graphics and Sound
The graphics are astounding...the beginning FMV sequence made me cry it was so beautiful. The character sprites are very detailed, but are kind of tacky in some places when up close. The movements and physics of the game are delectable. The backgrounds are gorgeous, near life-like on the PS2 so only God knows knows how good everything will look on The Box! The sound is crisp and on-time. The voice-overs however, are another story where the will hit the mark sometimes, or miss it completely. Especially Jubei's...most of his voice-acting consisted of grunts more than speech...But the voice-overs are completely overshadowed by the almighty music score, ah...the music was a beautiful oriental orchestration that made you want to stand up and do samurai poses in its greatness. I highly recommend you to play the game in surround sound, or at least with the volume up, it's perfect...
This game has so much new stuff in it that you'd think they got it from the retail section of gaming and polished it up. The controls are the same...exactly the same...which ain't too bad for those gamers that mastered the controls of the previous game (Me included). But the fighting has gotten a little mo' interesting, with the ability to charge your weapon and unleash a mini-combo, or to just carry out your basic sword controls with a little more power (This requires the need to acquire scrolls to increase the ability to increase the power of the charge; 3 levels max). Also, if you acquire other scrolls, you can pull off a combo with your particular weapon, and you can link your basic combo with the weapon's combo (which will add the aspect of favoritism off weapon usage). There are now four, count 'em, four weapons to aid you in the destruction of those naughty little buggers. A thundering katana, a freezing spear, a windy double sword, and an earthly maul (a big ol' hammer). This time, involving the enhancements, you can upgrade the weapons and your armor! This armor includes your suit (defense), arm bracers (charge time and attack speed), and leg bracers (mobility). This time though...it's gonna take more than a few souls to upgrade...it'll probably take about 30-35 units of souls to upgrade your weapon to it's MAX!! You think that isn't much...well...just play the game and you'll see.
Anywho, on the subject of the four people. I would tell you their names and a little something about them, but it would be better to find out yourself, so I'll tell you the gameplay involvement. Between these people you can, interestingly enough, trade items with them...(Hey, if Final Fantasty 8 & 9 had a card game...why not?) But through this, you can get all kinda of goodies, like power jewels, healing items, ammo, and [most importantly] funny replies. How you average in the game is partially influenced by the relationship between Jubei and the others, so be wary of this. But occasionally them will jump into the fray with you when things get messy in the dungeons. And in some cases, you play as them, which is a cool change of pace. Another new concept in this game is the ability to transform into the Onimusha (the question is...what is [the] Onimusha...I don't know and I don't care). When you collect five Oni souls you transform into the Onimusha, and invincible ass-whompin demi-human. But the pros and cons of this is that right when you collect five you transform...so either you transform in a heated battle, or you transform arter you kill everyone.
The cons of the gameplay aren't too bad but they are noticeable. Since there are no camera angles you can't always see what you're doing, which is very annoying in most cases when your getting ganged-up on (and you WILL get ganged-up on) and you need to see where you are. Another con is the auto-attack deal. You could be fighting to ninjas and knock one of them down, you go over to stab him, and Jubei swings at the other one! This gets very annoying after a while when fighting large groups of demons, and also detracts from the skill that could have been placed in the game, cause I'd rather slash at air than at the wrong damn monster! And finally, the soul absorbsion...In the previous game, you could upgrade your Ogre Gauntlet which let you absorb souls faster...nuh uh....not in this game my friends (which is reasonable, cause it would be stupid to be able to upgrade your friggin hand!). Soul suckin' stays the same, which is a bitch when trying to absorb the Oni souls that take forever to aquire, and when in battle you might need a health boost, but that damn yellow soul is over there==> and your over here <==and you don't have any healing items!! But after you toil through this tough game, you become rewarded by the game's groovylicious replay value, with tons of new junk and new difficulties to play.
All in all, this game exceeds it predecessor by miles, but bears the same weaknesses. Great sound, music, graphics, slightly flawed gameplay, and good replay value, Onimusha 2 is definitely a game to be tried out by the action lovers. Now pick up your sword and give evil the spanking it deserves a second time!! Get yo demon slaying face on...