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Oct 16, 07 at 7:29am ^Samurai Warriors 2 level 3 skills
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The Empires series is a bit different than the rest of the series because of how it handles the combat and what it adds to gameplay. At the heart of the game is a pretty heavy strategic level where you can do all sorts of things to make money, align yourself with other clans, keep your people happy, hire generals and lieutenants and raise troops. While the strategic level is interesting it isn't the real focus of the game. As you expect from a KOEI game, SW2 Empires is really all about combat. But the new tools at your disposal and the interesting strategic layer make for something that feels somewhere in between the game whose name it bears and Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
You'll begin the game by choosing one of Japan's greatest Samurai as a lord - and if you have played the previous Empire title you know the choices thrown at you are vast (there are hundreds to choose from). From there you are given five other characters - two more generals (your lead character is a general) and three lieutenants. As you expand your character's territories and capture other officers you can have Fiefs that have their own armies (up to six offers per region) and can even provide a small amount of relief on the battlefield. The ultimate goal, just like DW5 Empires and all the other KOEI titles, is to reunite the territories under one rule.
As each you try to subjugate these areas you have your usual large scale battles where you try to take your enemy's home base camp while defending your own. Like the last Empires game you can give all of your leaders orders and these orders are then carried out to the best of their ability. Depending on who you have under your command, these officers will in turn have their own troops to command as well. As you clear each area, it will turn blue and you'll subjugate the camps and dispatch the enemy either by making them retreat or by capturing their officers. The gameplay here is pretty familiar and hasn't changed all that much since the last Empires game. There are however some new ways in which certain elements are handled and some new gameplay elements altogether. The most noteworthy are Tactics and Formation.
Formation lets you put your army in a certain formation that has real battlefield consequences. This could include giving your army speed, regeneration, better defense and more. If you or your enemy has another formation that is weaker then that army is point at a disadvantage which makes the battle easier or harder. It's a nice gameplay element that can make some situations a lot more challenging.
The other element is Tactics, which are special cards that make things happen on the battlefield to directly affect both your troops or the enemy. This could include the ability to cause the enemy to want to defect to your side, give you a defense bonus or even force the enemy to have an even force. Having magic as a key element of these games has always been a hallmark of KOEI's approach to things and SW2 Empires is no exception.
The other subtle changes in this Empires game and the series in general include changes to your mount and the way weapons are upgraded. Now you can use the strategic phase to hunt for a mount, or buy one in a store if a fief happens to have one. Mounts now also earn experience that is automatically used to upgrade their stats. While the affect is limited it does give you some incentive to find the very best mount and use them regularly. The way weapons are handled is now different as well. Instead of finding 3 or 4 weapons in a battle and having to choose which one is best, now you get "spoils of war." Spoils of War, quite simply gives players stats that can be added to their weapon. This could include an elemental effect like fire or ice, or stats like defense +2 or Speed +4. This new system for handling weapons upgrades is much more streamlined and does give player more control in what their weapons are capable of doing.
The hardest part of the game is the strategy or planning phase, mainly due to the hundreds of activities that you can partake in that affect your game. The first phase of the game allows you to do everything from gathering allies to making coin for your war chest and all stops in between. At first this can be a bit tricky, but once you get the hang of it it starts to make some seems. There's the Consult section which lets you consult your officers on a myriad of topics. Usually you'll have three officers to choose from and each has a special strategic skills that you can take advantage of to make your situation in the region easier. There's also a more open ended strategy layer that lets you choose any officer you want to get things done, though figuring out just what that is can be tricky. There's also a phase that gives you a myriad of choices for trade, negotiation, taxes and prestige that mixes in well with the rest of the game. After you've done all that you can in that phase you can move on to shuffling your troops to the best possible mix for an invasion. After you have shuffled your troop numbers to Fiefs that need them you can begin the war planning phase. This is where you can decide to help any allies you have by jointly attacking or defending. If you have a go it alone policy you can simply attack your neighbors and take their land with ease or (if you are under attack) defend your territories from attacks.
While I've kind of watered down my explanation of the game on all fronts, that doesn't take away from the fact that SW2 Empires can be as easy or as complex as you want it to be. You can use all the various game elements to their fullest, along with alliances to make the game go quickly or drag on as you see fit. And that's the beauty of the game. It's pretty open ended and allows strategy fans to have some fun playing games with their subjects' lives. The strategic layer, if anything, is a lot deeper than what was in Dynasty Warriors 5 Empires.
As usual, SW2 Empires offers Free Mode, Empire Mode, an encyclopedia and art gallery and more. Like DW5 Empires, you can also create your own character, selecting your favorite model, uniform, weapon and special attacks and abilities. While the choices are still pretty limited it is pretty easy to see why gamers may have an easier time going through the game utilizing a custom made Ronin.
There isn't much of a difference between the Xbox 360 and PS2 versions of the game, save enhanced graphics and achievements. The Xbox 360 version support 420p and 720p resolutions - which admittedly looks better than the PS2 version. The real advantage for Ps2 owners is that the game caries a lighter price tag - though both titles are cheaper than other games for these systems. Both support two-player split-screen cooperative mode, but neither is online capable.
We're pretty impressed with what Samurai Warriors 2 Empires delivers this year. Sure there's not too many changes from last year's Empires game but what has been thrown into the mix is fun. As is the case with these games, it's still an experience that only hardcore, die-hard fans will enjoy. For those folks, Samurai Warriors 2 Empires is probably a no-brainer purchase. We'll have a full review of the game when it comes out later this month. - James Fudge.
This information came from a [link name=NeoPortal]http://dynastywarriors.neoseeker.com/archive.php?storyid=3952[/link]
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