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Developer:
Acquire
Publisher: Atlus Software
Platform: PS2
Release Date: June 7, 2005

by Jason Ferguson




Samurai Western is a bit of an underground title that didn’t really pull in much hype upon release. Of course, it’s not every day you come across a samurai hack n' slash set in the old West.


In the West, the railroad business is booming, and settlers are coming from all over in hopes of striking it rich. In these times, criminals, drunks and gunmen run rampant throughout the cities. Oblivious to all of this, Gojiro Kiryu enters, in search of a man he plans to kill. Armed with his sword and his samurai training, Gojiro plans to bring justice to the Old West.


The story is told in bits and pieces throughout cut-scenes at the beginning and end of each stage. There’s nothing amazing in a story here, but it’s enough to tie everything together and give you a reason to play. The characters are a cliché bunch, and I’m sure you won’t really give a care about any of them.


Gameplay is your normal hack n' slash... just swing your sword and kill stuff. There are hordes of enemies to fight, so the action will be pretty constant. Don’t be surprised to see yourself outnumbered 10 to 1 (or worse!). Fortunately, the enemies are about as idiotic as they come, so as long as you can avoid being hit, you should be OK. Although, when surrounded by an army of gun-toting hillbillies, it can be a bit tough to avoid getting shot. By hitting circle you can dodge and deflect bullets. Remember that, because you’ll probably be doing that a lot if you pick this game up.


This brings me to another of the game’s major flaws… the camera. The camera is horrible, and will often cause you to lose track of enemies, run into walls, or miss out on healing items. It doesn’t rotate very well, and will probably get you killed plenty of times.


There are a variety of different weapons that Gojiro can wield, each with different stats and abilities. There are all sorts of different abilities, from double jump to Demon Stare (which freezes your enemies), so choose your weapons wisely. There are also healing items and equipment that can up your stats. As you slay foes, your weapons will gain experience and increase in strength. You’ll also gain points that you are allowed to distribute among your stats however you’d like to increase them. The added RPG elements add some depth to the game, and allow you to customize Gojiro to your liking.


Gojiro can also perform special attacks by filling up a mastery meter. You can use parts of the mastery meter to perform a special attack, or wait until it fills up and perform a SUPER attack. The type of special attack varies depending on the weapon you use. The variety of weapons, abilities and special attacks help to add something new to combat, keeping Samurai Western from getting old too quick. The combat will still get repetitive, and you’ll still get sick of button mashing for hours while Gojiro swings his sword and cuts down enemies… but you’ll probably get some use out of the game before you’re too sick of it.


There really isn’t much strategy in the game. Although you’re equipped with various skills and items, it really all just comes down to hacking at your enemies and killing them. Enemies pop out of nowhere and you’ll be in CONSTANT combat. It gets pretty repetitive. You kill 10 enemies… 10 more appear… you kill 10 more… 10 more appear… this continues until level ends.


Graphically, the game doesn’t look particularly impressive. It does a good job with the whole “Wild West” design, but the bland colors and dull environments will bore you after a few stages. Some of the environments are interactive, which adds some potential for extra carnage, but most of it isn’t. You can occasionally even pick objects up, using them for cover or as a weapon, but more often than not you’ll be left WISHING you could pick an object up. The voice acting and dialog is bad, too, although I’m fairly sure it’s supposed to be cheesy.


Samurai Western is an OK action game with a unique Western theme and some cool RPG depth. Unfortunately, the camera is horribly frustrating, the characters are lame, and the constant button mashing will probably make your hands hurt.


Final Grade: 60%




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