Onimusha 3: Demon Siege [Import - JPN]
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
Capcom
Developer
Capcom
Genre
Action/Survival Horror
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Awesome graphics
• Two distinct main characters
• Great battle system
• Detailed story
• Likeness of Takeshi Kaneshiro and Jean Reno
• Well balanced mix of puzzles and action
• Longer than the previous two
• Many reasons to replay the game
• Training missions
• Choice between 2D and Classic controls
• More Phantom realms, with multiple paths

The Bad

• The JP version is somewhat easy
• Itís hard to bid farewell to the Onimusha series

 
Grade
A+

It would be an utter understatement to say that Capcom has an immense amount of experience in making sequels. But that doesn't mean that everything they throw our way in the form of a sequel is pure gold. Capcom mostly makes sequels which are either almost the same as the original or sequels which humiliate the legacy of the original by being a heap of crap. But, rarely, they also do something completely out of their nature and make a perfect sequel. A sequel where the franchise takes many steps forward and not a single one back. A sequel which retains the best of the original and adds more good things to the core. Onimusha 3 is that sequel. It is the sequel.

GRAPHICS - Onimusha started it's journey 3 years ago on the PS2 as a game which mixed genres to give a satisfying experience. One of the most distinct of its features was its great looks. It featured pre-rendered backgrounds, high-poly characters, smooth animation and awesome special effects. The sequel that came out in 2002 retained most of this. The pre-rendered backgrounds were juiced up along with the character renders and animation. Then Capcom dropped a bomb. ''The third Onimusha is going to feature real-time backgrounds.'' Many of the fans were worried. Will the game retain it's high quality graphics in the wake of this big change, they asked. The trailers along with gameplay footage that Capcom showed the gamers reinforced a sense of security. But until you play through this game firsthand you will not be able to truly appreciate it's beauty.

Onimusha 3 features some of the best graphics ever seen on the PS2. The real-time backgrounds feature as much detail as the pre-rendered backgrounds in the previous games. Real-time backgrounds also allow for things such as more destructible objects in the game, better background animation and of course, it also helps in solving and alleviating camera issues prevalent in the previous games. The backgrounds also feature an insane amount of draw distance in the open areas, which is quite an achievement for this type of game which features a fixed camera. The stunning backgrounds come in various flavors, like the picturesque and accurately portrayed Notre Dame, a beautiful rain soaked zoo, a water temple featuring wonderful water effects and even the Eiffel Tower. The character renders are highly detailed. Samanosuke has never looked so good. As before, the characters feature enough detail to be used extensively in real-time cutscenes, which are great to look at. The Genma too feature a large amount of detail and variety. The amazing graphics engine developed by Inafuneís team allows for a much greater on-screen enemy count this time around, as much as twenty. The game also has some very good lighting and visual effects which breathe life into every cutscene, battle and location. The animation is silky smooth and the game runs at a solid 60 FPS, extremely rarely succumbing to slowdown.

PRESENTATION - Onimusha 3 carries on the previous games' legacy of outstanding opening FMVs. This time the guys at ROBOT have truly outdone themselves. The opening FMV is an absolute gem. The game features the choreography of legendary Hong Kong martial arts choreographer Donnie Yen. This makes Samanosuke come to life in the movie like never before. And no, I wonít spoil the intro for you. You have to see it for yourself. This FMV is good enough to challenge the FMVs found in the likes of the recent Final Fantasies and even Onimusha 3ís gargantuan rival, Ninja Gaiden. Like Onimusha: Warlords, this game features the likeness of Japanese superstar Takeshi Kaneshiro. Onimusha 3 also features the likeness of international actor and French superstar Jean Reno. Thanks to the graphics engine, the cutscenes and the overall game are thus lent a feel of an epic movie. The menus are barebone simple, like in all other Capcom games in this genre. This is the only thing which seems to be lacking, because a menu in the vein of DMC would've been a much better choice. But the on-screen display is nicely done.

SOUND/MUSIC - Like it's predecessors, Onimusha 3 stays away from the standard techno/metal music that is found in these type of games in favor of a harmonious mix of orchestral music, traditional Japanese music and fast paced percussion based themes. The music always matches the action/cutscene on screen, giving it a nice movie feel. The background score maintains an atmospheric low key during the exploration sections, but the music picks up instantly during battles. Boss battle themes are very nicely done too. The voice acting is definitely above par here, at least in the Japanese version of the game. The French spoken by various characters in the game is exceedingly convincing. Although it is dumped quite early in the game in favor of Japanese, it's still a nice touch. Hopefully the US version of the game will retain this quality of VA.

Sound effects in the game are very convincing. Ranging from the sonorous clang of metal clashing to the tapping of your characterís feet on a wooden floor or a shallow stream, these realistic sounds really uplift the whole experience. The game also features Dolby Digital ProLogic II for audiophiles, with an interesting addition of orienting the sound either according the camera or the character himself. In the latter case, the sound is oriented as if you are the playable character and not just watching the action. This can be both good and bad. It helps you to hear enemies which are out of frame and find their location with greater ease. But it can be slightly disorienting, however, with every camera change the sound orientation will not change, unlike in the other option, which actually makes it slightly less disorienting. It really depends on what you are more comfortable with.

STORY - The basic premise of the game is that Samanosuke confronts Nobunaga Oda again and tries to kill him, but lo and behold, when he faces Oda he is transported 422 years into the future through a portal which lands him smack in the middle of Paris where the Genma forces are wreaking havoc. In the midst of the chaos in Paris paramilitary forces are fighting a futile battle against the Genma. Jacques Blanc is one of these men. Despite being able to hold off the Genma for a while, he finally runs out of bullets. Tsk tsk, bullets are for wimps anyway. Samanosuke comes to Jacques' rescue, who is then transported to medieval Japan courtesy of a portal similar to the one which transported Samanosuke. As it stands, Nobunaga has surpassed the very fabric of time in his attempts to sate his thirst for power, with help from his chief scientist Guildenstern. And as the story progresses it becomes crystal clear that these two culturally and temporally displaced heroes must stop Nobunaga's evil plan or everything will be lost. Along the way you will meet many interesting characters who will either help you in your quest or try their best to thwart it. The story has it's twists and turns which work out extremely well in conjunction with the time travel plot. The characters are quite well fleshed out as well. The game has two endings. Not bad and good, but good and uber good.

GAMEPLAY- I've said it before and I'll say it again. Gameplay is the core of a game. If a game has weak gameplay, nothing can save that game. But that is not the case here. The visuals, sound, music and story are complemented by equally impressive gameplay. The gameplay is as close to perfection as it's possible. The game now features a more action-oriented feel. You'll be fighting through hordes of enemies as you move from puzzle to puzzle. That's not a bad thing because the battle is fun, as it was before. Your weapons/armor/gauntlet can still be upgraded by expending the souls absorbed. You still gain elemental weapons along the way to Oda which look cool as hell. Onimusha 3 features two main characters and the action switches back and forth very smoothly with cutscenes acting as interludes.

Samanosuke:
Like in Onimusha 2, you can charge an elemental weapon for big hits. One of the major changes is the addition of a bow to your standard equipment. This allows you to shoot arrows at enemies at any time, given that you have arrows. Don't be fooled into thinking that these arrows will cause major amounts of damage to your enemies. These arrows are mostly either to bring down aerial enemies for a good whacking with your melee weapon or to achieve a strategic upper hand while fighting strong enemies. There is a variety of arrows in the game, allowing you a choice of types such as normal, lightning and ice among others.

Jacques:
Jacques is a slightly different story from Sam. As it is, Jacques will be wielding whip like weapons throughout the game. This allows for a different battle mechanic. Jacques can use his weapons very deftly and by charging the weapon he can use a versatile grab attack. Jacques can also use his weapon for other actions such as picking and throwing specific objects and grabbing onto glide points like in Rygar. Although Jacques does retain his handgun from the initial onslaught in Paris, he only uses it with the main weapon and not as a standalone projectile weapon. The handgun has unlimited ammo.

Sub-character:
There is one playable sub-character in the game, in the form of a beautiful French paramilitary soldier, who uses guns instead of melee weapons, along with the occasional grenade. The guns are ďDante brandĒ, meaning that they have infinite ammo. That's all I can say without unintentionally spoiling the story for you. You meet her quite early on in the game, so youíll get a preview of her abilities.

Common:
They might play a little differently, but the fundamentals are common. All of the playable characters can absorb souls. And all of them can perform Issens. Both the main characters can use elemental magic attacks and both can transform into their respective Oni forms. Another major change in the gameplay is the ability to call upon your Oni form at will, unlike in Samurai's Destiny. This is done by a simple press of R3. This makes it easy to save your Oni form for a boss battle. The Oni form is also called forth when you die and have all five Oni souls with you. Also, both the characters can attempt training missions at save points, which when accomplished give forth awards. And both can visit unique Phantom Realms.

Ako:
Ako is a fairy who will be at your side almost throughout the game. She can assist you in many ways depending on what she is wearing. Throughout the game you will be able to find clothing for Ako which gives her special abilities to assist you in battles. She can also travel through time, thus helping in the completion of puzzles which require the cooperation of both of your characters. Furthermore, during battle she will pick up the occasional spoil of war for you and help you to either locate or pick up out of reach chests/treasures. And, she will also act as a targeting reticule, by hovering over the targeted enemy. This is extremely helpful when using arrows or guns. It also helps you to easily pinpoint and bring down aerial enemies and annoying archers.

Controls:
Finally, the developers have opted to give us 2D/Analog control like that found in games such as DMC and the MGS games. Those of you who loved DMC and its way of pulling off moves will love this control scheme. But, that doesn't mean that those of you who love the classic RE style control and felt like fish out of water with DMC will have to suffer. The directional pad still works as it did before. Even the R2 button retains itís usage as the 180 spin button when used with the D-pad. Can we say fanservice? The game uses almost every button on the controller to provide full control over your character. The basic controls are retained, but now souls are absorbed by the X button (at least in the JPN version), arrows (Samanosuke) and whip actions (Jacques) are fired/performed by holding R1 and pressing O. As said before, transformation to Oni for is done by pressing R3. The map function is displaced to L2, which must be held for a while to bring up the map.

DIFFICULTY - I'll tell you this honestly, Onimusha 3 isn't really very difficult, especially if you are a veteran. The puzzles are easy enough. The only places where you might face a big challenge are in the Phantom realms, a few bosses and a few Issen related training missions. But Inafune has promised that the US version will have greater difficulty level. Iím looking forward to that.

REPLAY VALUE - This is a very subjective category. It depends on whether you like the game or not. If you didn't like the first time through then the game doesn't have a lot to offer you for a second playthrough.

If you do like the game and it's predecessors you will be hooked on to this game for quite a while as you try to unlock and upgrade your way to satisfaction. There are a few Phantom realms which are only available on Hard mode, which is only unlocked after finishing the game once. You might also skip some of the Issen related training missions on your first run, which you will definitely want to complete later on to get a complete sense of contentment, along with a few hard earned rewards. The game also features a few fun unlockable mini-games including a story add-on mission, along with the standard addition of difficulty modes and extra costumes and weapons.

OVERALL - Once you will run this game in your PS2 and view the opening FMV you will first estimate, then realize and finally appreciate the epic scale of this game. This is the perfect sequel. It also has everything a great action/adventure game needs. Fast and smooth action, multiple characters, well thought of puzzles, well fleshed out characters, a good story and kickass graphics and sound to boot.

A swan song is the beautiful legendary song sung by a swan only once in itís lifetime, as it is dying. Onimusha 3 is that song. It is undeniably beautiful and harmonious, but you canít keep your mind off the fact that this is the last one. Itís going to be a bittersweet farewell, but Onimusha 3 will live on in the memories of gamers worldwide as one of the best action/adventure games ever to grace the world.

I suggest that you import this game if you can bear missing the story, because May seems very far away, especially to a fan. The puzzles might give you some problems, but if you are observant enough they wonít give you too much of a headache. And the occasional look at a FAQ or a message board wonít hurt your dignity too much, will it?

- - Rise of the Phoenix

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