Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny

Capcom's Onimusha series is their sixth biggest franchise behind Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Mega Man, Monster Hunter, and Devil May Cry, selling 7.9 million copies to date, with the main installments earning decent critical reception, nicely combining survival horror elements with hack-and-slash gameplay. While the first installment, Onimusha: Warlords, saw PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions, its sequel Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny, was a PS2-exlusive title, providing an experience on par with its predecessor.

Combat largely remains the same as in the original game, with the new protagonist, Jubei Yagyu, able to hack away at enemies with four different weapons he acquires throughout the game, including a sword, a spear, a double-bladed sword, and a giant hammer. The player executes normal attacks with the X button, and MP-consuming magic attacks with the triangle button; interestingly, like in the first game, Jubei's different weapons have their own MP gauges, and it's usually a good idea to spam magic attacks against bosses before resorting to normal attacks. Jubei can also charge his current weapon (up to several letters with certain items found in the game) with the R1 button and execute a charged attack with the X button afterward, although enemies can interrupt the charging process.

Killing enemies, like in the original game, causes them to emit different kinds of souls, red souls the player can use to strengthen Jubei's weapons and armor, yellow souls that recover his HP, blue souls that recover his MP, and new to the sequel, special souls that allow him to transform briefly into the Onimusha if he collects five. However, the player can't reserve Onimusha powers for boss battles, since the transformation occurs automatically upon obtaining the fifth soul, although some bosses may give these special souls as Jubei attacks them. There are points in the game where the player may control characters other than Jubei, though luckily, they receive special bracelets allowing them to absorb souls that they give to Jubei when they control him again.

Ultimately, the battle system works well, although the sequel unfortunately retains the tank movement system of its predecessor that takes some getting used to, but luckily, Jubei can sidestep to avoid enemy attacks if necessary. Although money is available early on in the game, the player can only buy items to trade with three different characters to get trading items in return or even healing items. Furthermore, if the player dies enough times, the Easy mode is unlocked for less skilled players, and the player receives a few supplemental healing items. Movement system aside, the gameplay is largely solid.

The movement system, and to a lesser extent the presence of save points (though their spacing is decent), are the only real flaws in control, what with easy menus, a general good direction on how to advance, and so forth.

The story is a step above the first game's, with the protagonist having decent development that's relevant to the plot, and the main characters the player can potentially control having some semblance of development as well. There are also numerous pot branches throughout the game, with a tracker accessible after beating the game keeping track of these branches. Granted, the player doesn't see many scenes involving the villains' backstory, and the translation does have some flagrant punctuation errors, but otherwise, the narrative is a decent driving factor and enhances replay value.

The music is also solid, not to mention the voice acting, in spite of some occasional silent areas. The graphics are similar to the first game, having three-dimensional character models and prerendered scenery, with the occasional superb-looking FMV. Overall, a great looking and sounding game.

Finally, the sequel is short like its predecessor, taking a little less than ten hours to complete, though fortunately, the story and its branches add replay value. Overall, Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny is a largely solid sequel that hits most of the right notes and doesn't leave too much room for improvement, what with things going for it such as its solid hack-and-slash gameplay, control, branching storyline, music, and graphics, although it certainly has its flaws such as the movement system and spotty localization. Given the decent reception, the second installment would naturally see more sequels and even a few spinoff titles.

The Good:
+Solid hack-and-slash gameplay and control.
+Decent story with plot branches.
+Great music and graphics.
+Superb replay value.

The Bad:
-The movement system.
-Plenty of punctuation errors in the script.

The Bottom Line:
A solid sequel.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation 2
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 9/10
Story: 8/10
Music/Sound: 8/10
Graphics: 9/10
Localization: 7/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: Less than 20 Hours

Overall: 8.5/10

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