Game Reviews

Samurai II: Vengeance

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Samurai II: Vengeance

The word 'gritty' is usually reserved for dark, brooding games with photo-realistic graphics and a penchant for rain.

Who would have thought that the mobile market could deliver something that was violent and stylish in the same way, while not being shackled to any philosophy of realism?

Samurai II: Vengeance is realistic neither in form, nor substance. The storyline revolves around ancient Japanese demons and floating fortresses, while the hack ‘n’ slash action is so over the top that at times it’s almost funny.

Ronin it in

Samurai II: Vengeance finds you on a hunt for the demon Orochi and his floating headquarters, after you discover he has been victimising the peasants of the countryside. The ronin you control also has a vendetta against him, which is never really explained to those who haven’t played the first game.

It's a relatively flimsy and thin story, anyway, told in graphic novel-style panels between levels. It doesn’t feel that important and serves mostly as an excuse to chop people up. Which is fine, since that’s what the game is really all about.

Samurai II: Vengeance follows your basic action-slasher formula, with the D-pad controlling movement, and the X and O buttons used for attacks. One is a light attack and the other is heavy, although it is hard to tell the difference between them sometimes. Triangle allows you to roll quickly, dodging enemy katanas by inches.

Using these simple controls, you can perform various combos, often slicing your foes in two down the middle or decapitating them in a slow-motion bloodbath.

Instant Karma!

By collecting ‘karma’ from your fallen foes and from barrels along the way, you can buy new combos or health upgrades. This affords the game a little variety, although arguably not enough.

This is Samurai II: Vengeance’s biggest kink. It doesn't feel like it takes advantage of the Xperia Play’s extensive range of controls. Many buttons go unused, and bashing the same two keys over and over again in different orders can get tiresome.

What’s more, the level design – though lush and visually stunning – is linear and unexciting. Apart from sections with spinning blades and other traps, it’s essentially the same corridor and the same room repeated ad infinitum.

Bloody lovely

None of this really prevents Samurai II: Vengeance from being a great old-fashioned bloodstained lark through waves of enemies (the Dojo survival mode even lets you fight without prancing about and pulling the occasional lever).

Superficially speaking, it’s a beautiful game. The Okami-style visuals are complemented by airy Eastern music wafting through the streets and corridors, providing a great contrast to the brutal combat and bone-crushingly satisfying disembowelment.

And though it's hard not to be disappointed by the game's lack of depth, it does ultimately engage your attention for long periods and quench your virtual bloodthirst.

Samurai II: Vengeance

The solid combat cuts through Samurai II: Vengeance's linear level design, revealing an accomplished action game