There are lots of things that go well together; peanut butter and jelly, burgers and fries, and of course Jessica Alba and small amounts of clothing. My point being that there really is a niche out there for mixing the old west with the Far East. Whether you are pairing up Jackie Chan with Owen Wilson for some kung fu gunslingin’ or just meshing to ancient cultures that are ripe with legends and lots of bloodshed. The developers of Way of the Samurai felt it was time to bring this to the PS2 in the form of Samurai Western. It’s time to grab your swords and saddle up partners, this ride is gonna be bloody.
You play as Gojiro Kiryuu who sets out to find his older brother who has turned his back on the samurai in favor of gun slinging. The story is certainly not the draw, but it does give a nice backdrop to the action. You basically traverse through 15 different areas leaving trails of arterial spray in behind you. SW never once claims to be anything other than a slaughter fest, which is good because this game is pure action from beginning to end.
While the moves are limited you do have a few surprises up your sleeve, or should I say kimono. You can use the circle button or R1 trigger to dodge enemy attacks and even ricochet them back at your adversary. You can also pick up certain object in the environment to use as either cover or a projectile. Most of the time however you will find yourself pounding away on the square button and watching the blood fly. Kill enough baddies and you can power up your special move, which depending on what stance you are using, will give you such powers as stopping time and even performing instant kills. Sure the combat can get repetitive but like I said at the beginning, this is a straight up action game and it never tries to convince you of any different.
The visuals in SW are also not going to win any awards; most of the environments are hard to differentiate. You will spend most of the time moving from old west looking town to old west looking street simply hacking up anything in front of you. What is nice though is the constantly solid frame rate and the amount of on-screen enemies and bloodshed you can acquire. There is certainly no lack of the human Kool-Aid in this title, in fact sometimes you can lose track of enemies in the sea of blood. There is also a nice filter effect that gives the game a look from old west movies. Sure it’s just for fun, but it is something worth noting.
SW is not going to have you coming back for its in-depth storyline or innovative game play, but it does have something that will have you playing levels over and over for. Collectibles, what is it about collecting absolutely inane objects that we as gamers find so appealing? From coins to stupid looking hats we have always been obsessed with finding every item in the game. SW utilizes this by actually making the items worth while, things like hats will actually add hit points and even magic points in some cases. Each level has a certain criteria to meet for each item and you can check your progress at the level select screen. This certainly keeps the appeal of the game from losing the player within the first few hours.
This is where my main problems come in with this title. You can literally finish this game in one sitting. With only 15 levels to play through you can certainly tear through it on a lonely Saturday afternoon. It’s hard to recommend purchasing a game that most people will blast through in the span of a few hours that said however you do have plenty to come back for in the long run. Tons of unlockables, simple yet effective combat, and enough blood to make the GTA guy cringe keep this game from becoming a lost cause.
In the end if you are fan of spaghetti westerns like I am, or have a simple craving for some fast paced bloody good times then give Samurai Western a try. It never once tries to be something it’s not and has a certain appeal to grasp fans of the niche genre. These are the kinds of games PS2 owners should be proud to call their own as they most likely would have never seen the light of day without it’s massive user base. Being a huge fan of Rising Zan for the PSOne I recommend everyone give SW a shot, or should I say a slice!