Onimusha 2 PS2
Review by Matt Paprocki Capcom Adventure
Graphics: 10 Sound: 6 Gameplay: 9 Overall: 9

There's a reason that the first Onimusha is in Sony's Greatest Hits line. Plain and simple, it's one hell of a game. It's almost scary when the sequel was announced. Knowing how sequels usually turn out, it's shocking to play a sequel that may not only be up for game of the year, but become arguably one of the best games for the console thus far.

The plot follows a lone samurai up against the demonic forces of Nobunaga trying to take over medieval Japan. Early in the game, friends will be made and they will help Jubei, the lead character, along the way. While the story is pretty straight forward and linear, the gameplay is so strong, that the story takes a backseat. Plus, once the game is beaten, you'll be allowed to play any parts of the game you missed during the games 10 hour play time. While the gameplay won't set the world on fire with it's originality, it's just solid in all areas. Very little has changed since the first installment, but the age old quote "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies here.

Taking control of Jubei is relatively simple.  Much like an amped up version of Golden Axe, you'll hack and slash hundereds of enemies with a variety of attacks and weapons. Depending on how you play the game, you'll also take control of other charcters for breif periods of time, breaking up the what could be viewed as monotonus gameplay. The puzzles are simple and far between which may dissapoint survival-horror fanatics, but make action hungry gamers cry tears of joy. A new "gift" system has been implemented and this is mostly what affects what characters join you in your struggle against Nobunaga. Throughout your adventure, you find "gifts" which can only be given to other people who in turn give you something back, depending on how well they like your present. The more pleased you make a person, the more likely and more often they'll join you, making otherwise inaccesable areas accesible.

Even with better hardware on the market, Onimusha 2 easily ranks stacks up to the competition as far as graphics are concerned. In fact, this is arguably the best looking game on the console. With all of the backgrounds being pre-rendered, all of the PS2's polygon pushing power is used on the character models. Incredible facial expressions allow you to read what the characters are feeling just by looking. The backgrounds feature superb animation, including some crystal clear videos (such as the water flowing onto the beach late in the game) that interact flawlessly with the characters. The CGI cut scenes deserve a ton of credit as there better than anything Hollywood could produce. Some even outshine Square's Final Fantasy movie! As with any game with pre-rendered backgrounds however, this can lead to numerous issues with the camera, especially during boss fights, a minor issue in what is otherwise a flawless package.

Resident Evil started it, and Onimusha 2 continues the Capcom tradition. The voice acting here is downright disgraceful. Not only is the acting bad, but the grating voices are the icing on the cake. You'll be hitting start more than a few times to skip some of the more aggravating cinemas. The soundtrack features a wonderful score that fits the games dark plot entirely, but the acting almost sets a comedic mood. For those who think Kung Fu movies are badly dubbed will have a new appreciation for them after watching a few of the cut scenes in this game.

It may be somewhat short, have bad dubbing, and somewhat monotonus gameplay, but the game is simply engrossing. It's almost impossible to tell what it is, but something just reaches out of the screen and grabs the player and it won't let go. Be prepared to give extened playing sessions to this one so make sure you can call off work. Even after you beat it, the option to replay scenes you missed, get hidden videos, and view artwork add to the games play time. The worst part of the game? The teaser trailer for the third installment is included on the disc (if you can find it). This reviewer simply can't take the wait.


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Last updated: Sunday, June 08, 2003 12:00 AM