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Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper (Wii U) artwork

Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper (Wii U) review

"Properly equipped, your warriors have amazing range and can cleave through hordes of enemy soldiers, even on the Normal difficulty setting. Special moves are also available and they can inflict even more damage, but in general you can save those moves for the more challenging bosses that sometimes storm the field. Those more gifted foes mostly block your slower special attacks unless you wait until theyíre open, so youíll be forced to also block attacks and wait for a limited opening if you want to unleash some real pain."

The Hydra is a fearsome beast with eight heads. You may recognize it from mythology and from the Disney animated feature wherein Hercules rather famously slew the monster and saved the day while Hades watched in disappointment. In Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper, though, there are no Greek demigods volunteering to save the day. The land is being ravaged, and itís clear the Hydra will soon wipe out whatís left of mankind if someone doesnít interfere. Thatís when a helpful mystic grants humanityís last hope the ability to travel backward through time, to a point when more humans were alive and they were all battling each other and the sorceress Da Ji instead of falling in the face of a rampaging demon. The mystic believes the path of history can be changed. Warriors and weapons can be gathered together so that when the time for a final confrontation with the Hydra does happen, the scales will have been tipped in the humansí favor.

Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper is the first game in the series that I have played, so I wasnít quite sure what to expect. I knew in a general sense that it would likely resemble Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors, which were also developed by Koeiís veteran team at Omega Force, but Iíd barely ever touched either of those franchises, either. My lack of exposure meant that I went into the experience fresh, just as I suspect a number of other Wii U owners will do. Some of the plot flew right over my head as a result, Iím sure, but for the most part I found that I was able to follow along rather easily. I didnít have much trouble figuring out how the game in general works, either, which I take as a sign that the series does a terrific job of welcoming newcomers to the fold.

Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper asset

If you strip it down to its core, Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper is a brawler. You have a base where you can purchase and customize weapons or assign experience points so that your favorite warriors increase levels, but the main attraction besides the weapon shop is a portal that takes you to the stage selection screen. There, you can choose from any available battles, with more of them becoming available as you complete earlier challenges. Itís a no-frills approach that works quite well whether you want to practice on familiar ground or advance the story.

Combat is pleasingly simple. You bring three warriors with you as you start any battle, and you can switch between them by pulling on the shoulder triggers (assuming theyíre not in the middle of being pummeled by an enemy combo attack). Your inactive characters are available to sometimes lend their might as part of a one-off special attack, once meters fill, but otherwise theyíll remain inactive and their health will gradually refill until you call on them again. If youíre having a tough time in a stage, itís important to regularly cycle between the characters, so that you donít risk losing any one of your trio (which results in an instant loss and an irritating trip back to the title screen). Another benefit of constantly cycling through characters is that theyíll all level up at a more even rate, though youíre not really penalized for relying on one favorite character (a fact I personally appreciated).

In general, you can defeat most enemies by mashing the same single attack button. Properly equipped, your warriors have amazing range and can cleave through hordes of enemy soldiers, even on the Normal difficulty setting. Special moves are also available and they can inflict even more damage, but in general you can save those moves for the more challenging bosses that sometimes storm the field. Those more gifted foes mostly block your slower special attacks unless you wait until theyíre open, so youíll be forced to also block attacks and wait for a limited opening if you want to unleash some real pain. Unfortunately, the camera doesnít always do a good job of following things if a foe is dancing around you in circles, but an arrow indicator appears to let you know which direction to face if the camera doesnít keep up--and it usually doesnít--so mashing a button and facing the directed way often works quite well.

Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper asset

If you do find yourself losing battles--and you quite likely will, at least at first--youíll most likely be able to blame your defeat on the special objectives that accompany most missions. Various emblems appear on the mini-map, which let you know the location of friendly units (blue) and key objectives (glowing green), while your foes are presented as tiny red and yellow dots (for evil and neutral forces that will try to cut you down) or larger dots for particularly dangerous units. As you hack through the enemy hordes, new objectives often arise. You can lose a fight if an ally halfway across the map falls in battle, or if an important asset is overtaken by the enemyÖ or in some cases, if an enemy flees. The maps mostly do a good job of keeping you apprised, but there are still cases where itís possible to lose without even immediately understanding why, and you donít keep any experience points or items gained in that case. This is especially frustrating in cases where a message was in queue to warn you about a hazard, but first you have to listen to warrior banter and then by the time the game decides to offer the suggestion that you should be heading in a particular direction, youíve already lost.

Even early in the game, the ability to lose a battle that you seem to be winning by a safe margin is quite frustrating, and that never really changes. Some of the later battles feel especially cheap, particularly during moments where you come up against the Hydra. In those instances, you must take control of a weapon, in what you might call a turret sequence. You lose the mission if that weapon is destroyed. At first, such sequences are mildly annoying and relatively easily mastered, but there comes a point where you may find yourself regularly failing due to the turret sequence because its position doesnít really allow you to repel projectiles the way you must, even if youíre otherwise demolishing the enemy army. It can be difficult to summon up the willpower to take another stab at completing such stages, even if you know exactly what to do and how to do it, simply because of the time and tedium involved. Thankfully, such missions happen infrequently.

Another point worth mentioning is that the game suffers from distracting performance issues. When there are a lot of warriors on-screen simultaneously, the action tends to chug. The environments also donít seem to be spectacularly detailed, and yet enemy units frequently pop into sight as if they were beamed down from the U.S.S. Enterprise. Youíll often have to rely on the map to tell you where troops are, and then as you run in that direction youíll suddenly see what should have been plainly visible already. I havenít played the gameís Xbox 360 version, so I donít know if the issue is present there or not. It quite likely is.

Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper asset

Though Iíve spoken mostly about the core campaign up to this point, Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper also features a lot of other content thatís worth at least a quick summary. As you advance through the game, for instance, youíll unlock a slew of character wallpapers. Some of them are quite beautiful. Your characters can also interact back in camp, based on which of the many dozens of characters you team up with on the battlefield, and sometimes that allows you to unlock additional action stages. Itís also possible to play in Duel Mode, either against computer opponents or other players online, and youíll earn special crystals if you manage to emerge victorious. After you clear a battlefield, you can go back to it and edit the map to include a number of tweaks of your choosing. Once you play through that revised map--presumably, to prove that doing so is actually possible--you can upload it and other players can try it online and vote it up to award you additional crystals. You need crystals to unlock some of the best gear.

Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper features a lengthy campaign wherein youíll recruit dozens of characters, many with unique fighting styles. Weapon and character customization are quite enjoyable, and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy once you tire of the core campaign. The end result is a robust package that should definitely appeal to fans of the genre. If youíre looking for old school experiences on Wii U, this is definitely a great starting point. Just know that some of the technical issues and a few of the design choices keep it from being as accessible an experience as one might hope. Itís definitely not for everyone, then, but a certain type of gamer will likely adore it.


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Staff review by Jason Venter (December 29, 2012)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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