Published on August 31st, 2012 | by thoseguyspodcast0
Way Of The Samurai 4 Review
As a long-time fan of the series the wait for WOTS4 to be imported to North America was a long one. Finally WOTS4 has been translated and is available for download on PSN for 39 dollars. The game takes place in a small town called Amihama in Japan during the time its borders were forced open by foreigners. The game is modelled almost like a choose your own adventure book, you play through the events that transpire over 5 days choosing dialogue options and making choices that completely change the storyline and ending of the game. There are 10 endings in all and each one takes about 2 hours to complete on a speed run.
Gameplay: WOTS4 gameplay is well varied with the ability to use swords, spears, guns and even hand to hand martial arts. Weapons in the game all have different stats such as strength that adds damage and durability before a weapon will break. There are over 100 different weapons in the game and they are all satisfying to use. In the previous installments of the series moves were contingent on the weapon but in WOTS4 you get styles from gaining scrolls which control the moves list. Instead of a sword having a top stance and certain moves you may now use any sword style with any sword, a very welcome addition. Leveling up your sword styles and learning new moves is fun and addicting, it is highly improved from WOTS3. Combat has also been greatly improved by a new super move called spring harvest, when your gauge is full you may unleash a lightning fast barrage of moves while everything else is slow motion, when you are done simply sheath your weapon and your enemies will fall to pieces. Spring Harvest gives the game much needed longevity to the combat and makes you feel like a badass. Mini games such as fishing and gambling all work well enough and are simplistic, revolving mostly around quick time events and simple cursor controls. The best addition to WOTS however is the utterly superb online component. With online enabled other players samurai will appear at random throughout your world as computer controlled AI with their weapons and unique character creations. If you defeat another players avatar you gain there weapon with their gamer tag inscribed in it. This feature is beyond awesome and adds some much needed modern additions to a very old school game.
Graphics: WOTS series started on ps2, and it seems the developers have not moved on from that. The graphics are terrible with dated visuals, huge frame rate drops in high trafficked fights and lack of texture detail. To make matters even worse WOTS4 suffers from some of the worst screen tearing in recent memory, you get used to it eventually but it’s extremely jarring at first. This is made only passable due to my nostalgia growing up playing these games on ps2, WOTS4 makes no attempts to modernize its gameplay or graphics leaving a distinctly old school Japanese action game feel. This sticking to tradition is great for gameplay but there is no reason in 2012 a game should look like it’s on ps2.
Story: The story in WOTS has always been one of its strong suits, the cleverly thought out intersecting storylines is really quite a site to see. You can choose to side with the British, the Shogunate or the Prajnas Isolationists and get to see the story from different perspectives. Events in the Prajnas storyline I found puzzling all became very clear when I played on the Shogunate side in a game plus play though, When I finally figured out how they were able to ambush us I literally had my jaw on the floor and suddenly the entire plot made 1000 times more sense, it is truly amazing how well the stories intersect once you have the complete picture.
Criticisms and praises: It is hard for me to complain about this game, I grew up on WOTS games and it had a deep impact on me. This is a strictly niche game, if you have played Japanese style games like the yakuza series or dynasty warriors and loved them like I do this is right up your alley. If you despise games that refuse to evolve and stick to ps2 generation style gameplay and controls you will hate it. To me it is a loving throw back to the last generation. I have sunk 30 hours into WOTS4 doing jobs, joining different factions, collecting swords and leveling up my fighting styles and I cannot get enough. I spent 5 hours alone doing jobs and spending all the money on improving my katana at the blacksmith. I cannot wait to hop back on and find more players avatars to cut down. I can totally understand why most gaming publications have been so negative on this game, dated visuals with old school controls that don’t meet today’s expectations. To me however this is the charm of WOTS4. I no more criticize it for being old school and dated than I would serious Sam 3, that’s the very point of the game. The one thing I cannot forgive is the terrible graphics and poor performance of WOTS4 that really takes you out of the experience. To me WOTS4 is a 9 with the graphics keeping it from a perfect 10 but a lot of that is nostalgia.