Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny Summoner 2 - sequel to one of the top-selling role-playing adventures on PlayStation 2  @ www.contactmusic.com
Samurai's Destiny Review
Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny is a very good looking cinematic action adventure game with plenty of hack and slash combat and a small amount of puzzle solving thrown in for good measure. Your character Jubei Yagyu will travel through many beautiful scenes and fight hundreds of demonic enemies on his quest to defeat the resurrected warlord Nobunaga. People who enjoyed the first installation of Onimusha will also like the sequel, however some of the drawbacks found in the predecessor are still present in this version. The camera angles can be frustrating and the game is relatively short, plus some dodgy English can interrupt the games fantastic atmosphere.

You will primarily control Jubei throughout the game but he will meet four other warriors during the course of his adventures. Sometimes they will fight along side Jubei and occasionally you will interact with these characters but this interaction will be very limited, offerings of your adventures in reward for something else from one of the four warriors. At times you will even get to control these characters but while they look different and have different fighting styles they basically play the same.

The controls here are just like those in the first Onimusha, left and right will rotate your character respectively and pushing forwards and backwards will move Jubei forwards and backwards. The game does have a fast pace and once you are used to the controls they will seem pretty good. Combat in Onimusha 2 generally consists of nothing more than smashing the square button, but the game will reward carefully timed attacks that can injure multiple enemies at one time. Once enemies have been killed you can absorb their souls which restores Jubei's health and magic power, plus you can upgrade your equipment to more powerful weapons. You will be able to handle a number of great weapons throughout the game and they are mostly interchangeable. You will switch between weapons based on your own personal preference instead of tactical reasons.

This second version of Onimusha has a steadier learning curve than the original and at first the game is very easy, although you'll soon reach some powerful boss monsters that are pretty challenging. If you die a couple of times the game will offer the option of continuing on the easy mode, this is a bit of a shame as most people will and it makes the game very easy, with most players finishing the game without any hard work, provided you don't get stuck on any of the puzzles. The puzzles are mainly pretty simple but they might confuse you for a while. Most of these puzzles aren't compulsory either as they are used to unlock power-ups that can be taken or left behind. Locked doors are not optional though, you will have to track back in the game to find the necessary key. You can end up wondering about an area fighting the same monsters thinking what you're meant to do. The solutions though tend to be obvious and you could end up getting a little annoyed with yourself. Hidden passageways can be difficult to see as the pre-rendered background can become grainy making it difficult to see.

Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny @ www.contactmusic.com
Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny @ www.contactmusic.com
Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny @ www.contactmusic.com
Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny @ www.contactmusic.com
The translation of the written dialogue can at times be terrible, the spoken dialogue during the cut scenes is even worse. You will eventually get used to Jubei's verbal crap but some of the other characters shock you with their voice, they sound just terrible. Times when the story becomes emotional are easily destroyed with the dodgy voiceovers. You will not be able to take these scenes seriously for that reason alone. The games musical score is subtle but very good as are all the sound effects of battle, clashing steel and the spilling of blood really add to intensify the action.

Onimusha 2 has a very intereting and unique look about it and the characters look almost real. You can tell the characters in the game are the only genuine 3D elements on the screen as all the scenery is pre-rendered with some lovely photo realistic textures. Onimusha 2 is a gorgeous looking game and it looks better "in action" than it does on any screen shot. The camera can be bad at times causing detrimental effects to such a point that your view of the enemies can become so obscured that you can't see them.

An experienced Onimusha player should finish the game within 10-11 hours, but those who are new to the series and don't switch to the easy level could find themselves playing Onimusha for much longer than 10 hours. Once you have finished Onimusha 2 you will find that there is a number of special features that have been unlocked including, a "the making of" movie, some mini games and some optional sub quests within the main story mode. This adds some good replay value and with the fast enjoyable action, replaying the game may not seem such a bad idea.

A lot of effort has been put in to Onimusha 2 and graphically it is stunning. The style and characters all add to Onimusha brand atmosphere but unfortunately the translation can destroy the atmosphere like a wrecking ball. Hopefully in the next instalment Onimusha will feature a Japanese language option with subtitles like its predecessor. There are no major faults with Onimusha 2, it's a great game with a fantastic look and style so go out and get yourself a copy and bring on the third and final episode.

8 out of 10