When Namco announced they’d be bringing the first One Piece Pirate Warriors to the States, it felt like a Christmas miracle. And although they say lightning never strikes a Christmas miracle twice (they say that, right?), apparently it does, because they’ve released a sequel.
Although the first game broke the typical Dynasty Warriors mold a bit with the platforming elements, this one sticks to the tried-and-true formula. And that’s not a bad thing. There’s a reason there are eight Dynasty Warriors games and numerous spin offs—people like playing them!
Why? These games are the best hand-to-hand massive battle simulators on the market. There’s just something undeniably entertaining about being in the midst of a huge battle, plowing through wave after wave of bad guys, beating sub-bosses to claim territory, then taking on tougher bosses until you fight the final one.
The chaos, the bodies flying everywhere, the insane over-the-top super moves, the huge battlefields, the yelling, the combos, the dramatic cutscenes, even the repetitiveness becomes part of the charm as you slog your way through entire armies. It’s all part of the winning formula that has made this franchise such a success.
Now take that, and add One Piece characters. It’s pretty much a match made in heaven.
For instance, One Piece has a ton of super-powered characters perfect for the DW game style. And you can play A LOT of them in this game. And they all come with moves right out of the anime and manga. When playing through the story mode, you can pick anyone you’ve unlocked. And you’ll unlock them fast. Each character has a very different playing style, so I’d suggest giving them all a try and not just sticking to Luffy. I fell in love with Chopper. He’s really good in this game and makes funny noises when he attacks, which is important to me. I also used Smoker a lot, and as you could already guess, he totally tears it up. But if you really want to get through the game, Ace will burn right through it. Heh-heh. No really, he is insanely powerful and his moves hit a ton of people at once.
And you don’t have to worry about leveling up new characters as you unlock them, because you can pay Beli to level them up. And there’s plenty of Beli in the form of treasure chests on each level. The chests also contain coins that you can set to give your characters a boost to their stats. And if you line up certain coins that have connections to each other, you’ll get even further bonuses. Personally, I found the coins a bit complicated and just tried to guestimate which ones were best. But it’s not super important, as the game is pretty forgiving. Chests also have power-ups and food to restore health. And you’ll need the food later in the game as the bosses get a little harder.
The game is full of epic battlegrounds from the anime. Because the last game covered so much of the story, there isn’t enough leftover to make a new game. So they did the next best thing and came up with the Dream Story idea, which is a made-up story involving Dials from Skypiea that pits Luffy against his own teammates. This is rather genius, because it makes for some amazing match-ups that wouldn't have been possible if they followed the regular story. It also means you can go anywhere that's ever been in the story, so you'll be bouncing around from Punk Hazard to the Baratie to Impel Down to Thriller Bark and a ton of other places. Some of these levels blew me away, visually. There was definitely some talented folks working on this game. This is not the usual "phoning it in" treatment a lot of games based on an anime get.
Speaking of fighting, combat has been upgraded and now players have a Haki Mode to help them in battle. The Haki attack knocks opponents in your vicinity temporily unconcious, letting you have your way with them. Also, when you activate your Haki and use your Style attack, you can actually control your teammate (not co-op teammate, the teammate you pick before battle) for a bit and really put the hurt on the bad guys. Essentially if done correctly, you can unleash your super attack, control them and unleash their super attack, then go back to your character for one more super attack. And that will take major life off of just about any enemy’s health bar. And the big attacks are also quite an eyeful. It’s very satisfying to unleash a crazy attack from the anime, and then see a bunch of bad guys go flying through the air.
You can go it alone in the game, but playing with two players makes the game a whole lot easier. Some of these battlefields are huge, and if you don’t have someone with you online or on the couch, you’ll be running everywhere trying to save the NPC players in fights. In fact, that’s the only way I lost battles. I just couldn’t get to the character fast enough. Maybe it was Chopper’s short little legs. And trust me, you don't want to have to do these battles over, because some of them are quite long, especially with one person.
The game has some cool online features. You can play two-player online by joining someone else’s adventure, or inviting them to yours. You can also send out an SOS request if you’re having trouble on a certain level. And you can see the top 100 players in the world so you can see just how bad you are at the game.
And if you want a break from the main storyline, you can play the Character Logs. These are like a simplified version of the game where the goal is to gain territory by defeating rooms full of baddies, then the sub-bosses. Eventually, you’ll face the main character, then after besting them move on to the next Character Log.
I have to say, seeing the One Piece characters 3D rendered is a real treat. I never get tired of it. You see them the manga in 2D and mostly black-and-white. Then you see them in the anime, moving and in color. And when they make the jump to video games, you have a sense of three dimensions. It just kind of makes your eyes smile.
What else can I say, this is game is a blast. The One Piece characters are a perfect match for the Dynasty Warriors game style. I know they’ve mixed other properties with DW, but I don't think any of them worked this well. If you’re a One Piece fan, this game is a no-brainer. It’ll provide hours and hours of entertainment—especially if you have a good crewmember by your side.
Hint: Characters better suited for certain levels will have a "recommended" icon on them. We recommend you play the recommended characters.
by Urian Brown