Samurai Warriors 4 was my favorite entry amongst Koei Tecmo’s vast brawler lineup. It combined the best aspects of previous Warriors titles, while introducing substantial technical improvements. As with every one of these Warriors titles, it was only a matter of time before a spin-off-semi-sequel-follow up (or whatever you want to call it) was announced. Samurai Warriors 4-II is equivalent to Dynasty warriors’ Empires entries; a broadening of the base game that includes various small refinements, but is ultimately the same game.
As a longtime Warriors fan, I always look forward to Koei Tecmo’s tweaks, regardless of how meager they may seem to those unfamiliar with the series. Samurai Warriors 4-II is a stellar expansion (sequel?), even if its storyline may confuse newcomers. This is undoubtedly an entry designed for fans of the original, but this doesn't mean others can’t enjoy the game’s spectacular action. On the battlefield, Samurai Warriors 4-II is a pure adrenaline rush. The action is smooth, fast and responsive, making it the perfect game when you just want to let off some steam.
If you’re completely new to the Samurai Warriors franchise, you can check out my original SW4 review, which covers the game’s basics and overall structure. Today, I’m focusing on the changes 4-II brings to the series, and whether the new features are enough to warrant the full retail price.
"On the battlefield, Samurai Warriors 4-II is a pure adrenaline rush. The action is smooth, fast and responsive, making it the perfect game when you just want to let off some steam."
If you’re expecting major additions and vast improvements, you’re going to be disappointed. Samurai Warriors 4-II focuses on refining small details that made the original great. As with the predecessor, the story follows events of individual characters instead of clans. This makes it easier to become attached to certain warriors. The narrative is somewhat difficult to follow if you haven’t played Samurai Warriors 4, but it’s a massive leap forward from the convoluted storytelling of past Dynasty Warriors titles. There are thirteen new character-driven chapters, with new downloadable content planned for the near future.
The most notable addition to Samurai Warriors 4-II is the Survival Mode. While simple in premise, I’ve had the most fun here due to the mode’s excellent pacing and structure. You’re thrown into a castle with countless floors and are tasked with clearing as many new levels as possible. Since the action takes place inside and each floor revolves around specific objectives, the fighting is more chaotic and claustrophobic when compared to the open sandbox levels.
"The most notable addition to Samurai Warriors 4-II is the Survival Mode. While simple in premise, I’ve had the most fun here due to the mode’s excellent pacing and structure."
While Samurai Warriors 4-II doesn’t include the predecessor's expansive Chronicle Mode, the Challenge Mode introduces four diverse selections to keep the action fresh: Chamber of Trials, Chamber of Riches, Chamber of Agility and Chamber of Death. Each section brings its own handful of challenges, like collecting a set amount of gold before your opponents or surviving a high-difficulty arena where enemies can kill you with a single hit.
Hyper attacks are back, and they’ve been tuned to be more powerful when ally morale is high. Meanwhile, hyper attacks are useless against officers and bosses, forcing you to wear them down before defeating them with a finisher. AI behavior also seems better balanced. Enemies behave more naturally in relation to your actions, instead of just wobbling around like cardboard cutouts. Your warriors now have something called “Epiphany Skills” that allow your fighters to surpass their limits. When initiated these skills offer unique effects, giving you a quick advantage in battle.
Samurai Warriors 4-II also includes a character editor. Here, you can create your own custom warrior that can be used in Free Mode and Endless Castle Mode. The editor is relatively detailed, but it’s a shame that your custom hero can’t partake in the story mode, even as a non-essential side character. Mounts can now receive upgrades too, although the benefits are rarely impactful during combat.
"However, Tecmo Koei really needs to start kicking things up a notch if they want to keep their fans satisfied throughout another generation of Warriors games."
Overall, Samurai Warriors 4-II is undoubtedly the definitive version of Samurai Warriors 4. However, Tecmo Koei really needs to start kicking things up a notch if they want to keep their fans satisfied throughout another generation of Warriors games. And I’m not just talking about the need for major gameplay changes. I reviewed my SW 4-II copy on the PC, and I expected at least some extra graphics options over the console version. But, in the end, 4-II on the PC is identical across all platforms. This just feels lazy on Koei Tecmo’s part.
Nevertheless, I can’t deny that I had an absolute blast with Samurai Warriors 4-II. It remains my favorite entry in the Warriors lineup, and I only hope future installments bring more to the series than a few combat tweaks and new modes. If you haven’t played the original Samurai Warriors 4, this is the version to get, but if you own the original, wait for the inevitable sale a few months from now.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC