Hands on with Warriors Orochi on PSP

Prepare for tired thumbs and loose buttons

Hands on with Warriors Orochi on PSP
| Warriors Orochi

Warriors Orochi is as unabashed as hack 'n' slash action games get. And if we may continue to be as blunt as that opening, Warriors Orochi is a poorly-veiled excuse for combining Koei's Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warrior franchises into a single game. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but don't expect anything wildly new.

You control three characters as they attempt to return to their ancient home worlds. Of course, the road home is lined with the bodies of countless soldiers felled by the mashing of your PSP's buttons. No, really – a hands-on play of the first mission confirmed our suspicions that this is as pure an experience of this type as this genre can possibly get.

As the story goes, the demon lord Orochi has transported the fabled warriors of ancient China and Japan to an alternative dimension, forcing them to fight against an onslaught of enemies. It's like a who's-who of ancient East Asia, bringing together notable figures from history to answer your button-mashing calls.

The central Campaign mode has you working through a series of stages, customising your warriors along the way with new weapons and experience. Although we didn't witness it firsthand, we're told the PSP version features ad-hoc cooperative play through the Campaign for two.

New characters become available as you complete specific stages, which can then be used during missions. In an amazing act of diplomacy, we joined noted Japanese isolationist Ieyasu Tokugawa with Chinese warlord Sun Ce, along with Hanzo Hattori for a mission. Entitled 'Battle of Mount Ding Jun', the mission demanded that we hack up wave after wave of enemy soldiers. Captains – denoted by their name and large health bar situated above their head – patrolling specific areas of the battlefield put forth a more challenging fight than the basic archers and swordsmen.

Tapping left or right on the D-pad enables you to switch between your trio of warriors on the fly. Each character possesses a distinct attack style and the ability to equip specific weapons. Normal attacks can be levelled with a press of the Square button, while stronger charge attacks are triggered via Triangle. Most of our time with the game consisted of mashing these two buttons.

As is typical in these games, successful strikes charge up the Musou gauge, which equates to a special attack that deals massive damage when filled.

Experience is rewarded for each enemy slain, although character development is minimal at best. The focus really lands on combat with much of it performed through taps of the face buttons. Attacks take precedence over defensive manoeuvres, although you're free to guard against incoming hits by holding down the L button.

Amazingly, Warriors Orochi distils the PlayStation 2 version with little degradation to visual quality. Fewer enemies appear onscreen at any given moment due to processing constraints, but the detailing in characters and environments is quite good.

Loading breaks are likely to be a problem, however. Just sliding through the various menus we had to sit through a couple brief loading screens; additionally, loading up missions took a noticeably extended amount of time. The hacking 'n' slashing was certainly entertaining, though, so we're keen to see these pauses reduced before the game hits stores later this month.