Warriors Orochi 3 review for PS3, Xbox 360

Platform: PlayStation 3
Also On: Xbox 360
Publisher: Tecmo KOEI
Developer: Omega Force
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

If your idea of a typical Dynasty Warriors experience is going through the Yellow Turban Rebellion for the umpteenth time, then Warriors Orochi 3 might come as a surprise to you. While the core gameplay remains largely unchanged from what the series is known for, that being hacking and slashing your way through hordes of unnamed goons in order to take on a handful of named enemy generals, this is probably the most refined Musou experience yet. I?d place this right up there with Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 as my favorite across all of Omega Force?s titles, and I think Musou fans will most likely agree.

Does Izuna Dropping Joan of Arc with Ninja Gaiden?s Ryu Hayabusa sound like a good idea to you? Or maybe you?d rather go one on one against Lu Bu with Greek Hero Achilles instead? Well, those pretty unique scenarios are all possible in Warriors Orochi 3. The Orochi series have been less about the canon events of ancient China, like the main Dynasty Warriors titles, and more about mashing up a variety of characters across Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors for battle against more mystical foes. Orochi 3 doesn?t change that, but gives the game its largest roster to date, pulling characters from the latest in both series, and adding in a few more unique characters from lesser known series like Bladestorm, Warriors of Troy, and Trinity: Souls of O?Zill. Finally, Ryu Hayabusa and Ayane, from both the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive franchises, make their first appearances in a Warriors title, putting to use the merger between Tecmo and KOEI.

The engine and character models are built on the backs of Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends and Samurai Warriors 3 XL as well. If you?ll remember, the only version of Samurai Warriors 3 we saw in the West was on the Nintendo Wii, so it?s nice to see those characters ported over to an HD system. The overall roster is downright massive, and you?ll spend a lot of time unlocking characters, along with weapons, upgrades, and secret missions.

The storyline takes on a time travel motif, which starts off with the end of the game featuring a giant attack by a multi-headed Hydra that?s devastated every kingdom so far. A handful of survivors make it out alive, and together with a time traveling priestess, visit previous battles and events in order to save the lives of their companions, and prepare them for the fight with the upcoming Hydra. This is probably the most interested I?ve been in a storyline for a Musou title before, and while it does suffer from a little too much dialogue like other Warriors titles, I thought the plot was a fun idea and a good way to get all of these characters under one roof.

The game incorporates a number of more recent developments, like the use of a city hub to explore and interact with other characters in between battles. The hub features a weapon dealer that allows you to purchase new weapons and fuse together existing ones. Weapons will occasionally come with slotted abilities that can be added on to new weapons, either replacing or enhancing abilities on the weapons being fused.

There?s also a network hub in the city, where you can connect for some co-op action with other players online. Co-op is pretty seamless, all your character stats and gear carry over regardless of whether you?re jumping into a players game or if they?re joining yours. I had little to no problem getting matches up and running, and lag didn?t seem to be a noticeable issue.

Warriors Orochi 3 also features bonds between characters, which can be upgraded across three levels, either by incorporating characters into your three man teams for battles, or participating in little party events through the city hub. Upgrading the bonds allows for special relationships and bonuses to flourish, and adds even more content to the game in the way of unlockable weapons.

When in battle you?ll choose a team of three fighters, which can be switched between at any time. While only the fighting character earns experience, you?ll also bank a certain number of experience points that can then be distributed to any character you?ve unlocked, regardless of if they are on your team at the time or not. This helps to cut down on some of the typical grinding out of levels found in other Musou titles, and is a great inclusion here that?s been present in other recent Warriors games.

Also worth noting is that the game?s soundtrack is pretty exceptional, with a number of stand-out tracks. There are a number of remixed themes from previous games, with a pretty eclectic mix of styles available. Some might lament the loss of an English dub here, which forces the PS3 release to be digital only, but I?ve never been a huge fan of the dub work in Warriors titles to begin with, so if it had to be cut to bring the game out here, I?m pretty much O.K. with that.

Overall, Warriors Orochi 3 is one of the best examples of a modern Dynasty Warriors title, and something that all fans should definitely check out. It?s not going to do much to sway naysayers and those that don?t care for the repetitive button mashing of the series, as it doesn?t do much to change up the core gameplay, but if you?re at all vested in the series, you should think about picking this up.

Grade: A-