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Samurai Warriors 2: Xtreme Legends

There are certain inevitabilities in life, such as death and taxes. There is also a real good chance that just about everyone will get laid at least once. From a larger perspective, war in one form or another is going to happen regardless of the peacekeeping efforts. On that note, another inevitability is a new installment in Koei’s Warriors series. There have been a staggering number of sequels, spin-offs and stand-alone expansion packs. Samurai Warriors 2: Xtreme Legends is yet another one of these expansion packs. Like the others, it doesn’t do enough new things to justify the thirty dollar price tag.

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Like Dynasty Warriors 2-6 and its ilk, you’ll spend a majority of the game dashing from one end of a massive battlefield to the other, killing everything in your path. After all these years, there’s still fun to be had by hacking and slashing through dozens of soldiers at a time. The excitement doesn’t last too long. Despite some basic tactics involved in winning the battle, the core of the game is hammering the square button repeatedly, while occasionally throwing in a powerful triangle button attack. Even though you control just one of many officers on the field, the others on your side are mostly useless. Almost everyone needs to be taken out by your own hand. There is no shortage of enemies on each battlefield since the final K.O. count is typically in the hundreds.

“The additions in Xtreme Legends do little to spice up the series.”The repetitive nature is worsened by the horrendous pop-up that makes approaching enemies a surprise, especially when speeding around on a horse. It’s even worse on the co-operative mode. This has been a problem that has plagued all the other PlayStation 2 incarnations of the series, and nothing is done to remedy this. Another annoyance are the missions that fellow officers give you. Far too often they involved speeding to another side of the map. No matter how many enemies are being cut down, if these missions are neglected, it will often lead to a game over.

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The old problems in the game aren’t fixed, and the additions in Xtreme Legends do little to spice up the series. There are six new characters that each have their own campaign and incoherent storyline. The huge cast of characters from Samurai Warrior 2 is only available in other modes and not in the story-based campaigns. With the original game, save data can be uploaded in order to grant some bonuses, such as the character level cap being raised from 50 to 70. There is also a new all-powerful weapon for each character. Without the original game, the options are limited.

The inclusion of these bonuses will surely interest people who have spent an ungodly amount of time strengthening the characters in Samurai Warriors 2 , but it feels like a cheeky move to charge for all this. Why wasn’t the level cap 70 in the original game? Why weren’t the strongest weapons included? Just because The Sims 2 gets away with an overload of average expansion packs doesn’t make this practice acceptable. The additions are too insubstantial for what costs just a little less than the price of the full game.

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“By all means go wild with this light expansion pack.”There are some new levels to play through, but the biggest addition is the Mercenary mode. Any of the characters can be used in this mode, which basically streamlines the battles to make them over much quickly. By completing simplistic objectives – such as protecting peasants or escorting a general – gems are earned. These are used open up new stages and hire new vassals. Despite this new level of character growth, you’re still mindlessly hacking and slashing through the same enemies. It’s just more of the same.

Worst of all, this mode is a little broken. I chose one of the new characters, who was only at level 1, to start my first foray in the mode. The character was far too weak and every fight was an absolute struggle. I couldn’t beat a single stage. I had another go as the as the iconic Nobunaga Oda, who I became quite familiar with in Nobunaga’s Ambition: Rise to Power. He was a slightly stronger at a meager level 7, but even on the default difficulty the game was absurdly easy. I’m aware that he’s a powerful dude, but I was completing levels in a matter of minutes without a scratch. Because of this, I was able to level up and obtain vassals in such a ridiculously quick amount of time.

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With such monotonous gameplay, the excellent RPG elements used to pimp out characters proves to be useless. Numerous skills affecting character growth and the strength of attacks are available from the shop and by defeating officers, but it still does little to alleviate the problems in the Warriors series. The lack of engaging content in Samurai Warriors 2: Xtreme Legends doesn’t help much either. If the idea of a handful of new characters, a lackluster mode and the ability to strengthen up the fighters a tad sound truly compelling, then by all means go wild with this light expansion pack.

5 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003. Get in touch on Twitter @akarge.

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