Review: Samurai Shodown Sen


I’ve read a few reviews over the past few weeks and I thought that when I do my review, it definately needs to be different from the others. Now, I know everyone has there own opinion and I respect that to the fullest, but it doesn’t mean that I agree with them, so when I read the reviews that said that Samurai Shodown Sen by Rising Star Games wasn’t upto much, I definately had to disagree with them.

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The Samurai Shodown series is back, and with its first mainstream console 3D entry being introduced on the Xbox 360, this great game will take you to a whole new dimension to battle in, which brings with it two dozen fighters to battle with. Thirteen of which are classic fighters from past Samurai Shodown games, but eleven of them are totally new, and they fit in extremely well with the older ones. Now the Samurai Shodown series was a personal favourite in the early ‘90s, it was easily the best-playing 2D weapons-based fighter on the market, and the first two games have held up etremely well over time.

Samurai Shodown Sen still provides players with a very enjoyable game, but this 3D incarnation just doesn’t play as smoothly as the previous 2D entries did. The back-and-forth weapons-based combat is still very fast, but its still no way as smooth as it was in prior games. I also found that the characters didn’t jump as well as what I had eagerly expected, unlike other fighting games, you can’t jump forward and do an attack as easily as what you would like, and no matter what character you use, you still can’t jump very high, which is quite annoying when you start battling it out in the later stages. You can control your character with either the d-pad or left stick, which I found quite easy to use, although the left stick is more arcade-ish and feels a little more natural to use. The controls are also very simple, consisting of the traditional vertical and horizontal slashes with some of the special moves being executed by simply tapping the triggers and bumpers. There is also a special button, but the core experience really feels more like a button masher and less strategically inclined. This is readily apparent when playing against another player as skill rarely plays a part in the matches.

One of the biggest drawbacks of the game is having to elaborate unblockable moves, these moves are also readily available with the push of one button, which can very easily kill the game for new players. Another major change is heavy attacks being able to drop opponents in just a few shots, while they do take forever to execute, and leave you open to attack if you miss, when they do hit you, it is awesomely satisfying. This addition of a Bushido Blade-esque gameplay setup, where a few perfectly-landed shots at just the right time in the right part of the body that can kill in three hits, certainly is a change from the norm for the series. If you’re in the final round, doing this will also make your opponent lose a limb, which is quite amusing to watch, especially seeing as this is the first Samurai Shodown game to actually have so much violence and gore involved in it.

Now while i’m on the subject of losing limbs, Samurai Shodown Sen is rated ‘M’ for a very good reason, and if you thought that other fighting games were gruesome, wait until you see what you can do here, not only can you slice of your opponents arms, legs and hands, you can also slice of there heads, feeling queazy yet? Well what if I told you that once you have severed a limb, the details of he game will delve even further by showing you the actual wound caused to the body, so instead of just seeing the wound, you can actually see inside the arm that is still attached to the body. It’s quite grotesque, and for some reason seems alot more disturbing when it’s done to the female characters, but it definitely fits the game well and it doesn‘t make the ‘M’ rating seem too harsh.

I spent most of my time battling the CPU because the online community was quite scarce at the time, and I’m not sure if it will see much growth really, simply because the offline modes available are very challenging. The modes include Story, Versus, Survival, and Practice. The single player game consists of a series of opponents with some bewildering cut scenes and eccentric dialogue in between them, and if you don’t mind long loading times between th ematches, then this is the mode for you. There are literally several screens showcasing various items that all take way too long to load, and you can have upwards of 30 seconds of downtime between matches. Even after installing the game to the hard drive the loading times were entirely unacceptable for a game that focuses so much on fast-paced action.

Of course the only real reason to finish the story mode is to earn the Achievements associated with beating it with each character, or to unlock the hidden characters. When you bump up the difficulty prepare to be in for a world of frustration as the AI is not intended to lose at all on Expert, which makes the game really difficult to master. I however have to admit, I did find it very hard, so I tried focusing on just one character at a time. Hanzo, was my favourite player of choice for most of the game, although each character is readily available from the start for any of the game modes. As you are in the menu and you hover over each character, you are given a very brief description of them along with a single word that describes their style of fighting — be it Power, Speed, Skill, or Tricky as in the case of Hanzo due to his ability to teleport and his swift kicks.

On the whole Samurai Shodown: Sen was very interesting to play, although difficult at times, it did make me want to continue and play more, and once I got into it, I did find it very difficult to put the controller down. Samurai Showdown: Sen is not a terrible game, but it’s also not a fantastic game. Although I have to admit I did enjoy the kick-back to old-school design and simplistic gameplay. There is a however a severe lack of polish here and it certainly does show. But still if you love fighting games, and have been a massive fan of the series I highly recommend that you give a try.

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