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One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 Review: Straw Hats, Ahoy!

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Title: One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2
Price: $49.99
System(s): PS3
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Namco Bandai (Tecmo Koei, Omega Force)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for Violence, Blood, Suggestive Themes, Alcohol Reference, Mild Language, Crude Humor, and Use of Tobacco

There’s a certain comfort in the Musou series of games. They’re formulaic, yes, but as long as you enjoy that formula and its trappings, you’re ensured an entertaining experience, even if the Musou game you’re playing isn’t from a series you normally follow. Which is what makes the One Piece: Pirate Warriors installments so enjoyable. Yes, they’re mainly for followers of the anime and manga series, but they also work as stand alone games, making every entry something anyone can enjoy. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 is no exception and, aside from the obvious assertion that it’s once again rehashing gameplay mechanics, is a strong, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable affair.

one piece pirate warriors 2

The Straw Hats are in disarray!

One Piece: Pirate Warriors is set after the series’ time skip, when Luffy and his Straw Hat Pirates are exploring the new world. The adventure begins with Luffy and his crew facing off against the Marines, then suddenly taking to Eneru’s fortress in Skypiea to bring the beat down. Luffy successfully takes him out, but then finds the Marines, lead by Smoker, are on their tail.

The group sets down on an island to fight the marines, and discover a strange laboratory. There, the pirates and marines discover an unusual formula. It creates this gas that turns friends against one another. Only Luffy and Nami escape the fumes, leaving the rest of the crew to turn against them, even hunting them down on the island.

Oddly enough, Smoker and the Marines turn out to be Luffy and Nami’s salvation. The gas is influencing everyone who breathes it, causing them to turn against people they normally love and respect. Luffy and Nami are then “captured” by Smoker, forced to cooperate with him and the Marines if they hope to save their crew.

one piece pirate warriors 2

The formula’s the same, and still works well.

If you’ve ever played a Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, or Warriors Orochi game before, you’ll be right at home with One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2. Each mission has the player choosing one of the playable Straw Hat pirate or occasional extra character (like Smoker). Once he or she has been chosen, it’s time to launch into about a 10-15 mission on a map, in the hopes of completing each objective until a boss shows up or an event has been cleared. Typical actions involve getting from point a to point b, defeating certain enemy characters, or protecting ally characters.

Gameplay is familiar as well. Players basically button-mash to victory, occasionally switching up combinations of buttons to make character perform special moves. If a gauge is filled, special attacks can be used, and a player’s pirate can also team with other pirates. Naturally, the player’s character is far stronger than the basic minions, and even most of the named characters, which means feeling the satisfaction that can come from tearing through hundreds of enemies, one after another. Bosses are more difficult, especially since some can guard, but all player characters do gain experience and level up from battles, meaning people can grow stronger and even use coins earned from completing stages to improve characters.

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 also offers the multiplayer options Musou fans expect. There is local cooperative multiplayer, which allows two people to fight through the same mission together. If you’re online and alone, you can either ask for a “rescue” if a mission is too difficult, or answer someone else’s call for help to get bonus points. Getting these collectible coins is crucial, as making a character hold them boosts their strength, while applying them to a Bingo card gives them new passive skills.

I think One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2‘s strongest asset is its story and characters. Everyone is bright, colorful, and weird. Normally, people say things go over-the-top. Well, this even goes beyond that. Take Smoker, for example. He’s my absolute favorite playable character of the game, simply because this dude is so tough, he wears a duster and smokes two cigars at once. Absolutely every character is delightfully ridiculous, and it makes the game as a whole more entertaining. That, paired with a story that isn’t considered canon and is just an excuse to have all of these One Piece characters playable or on-screen at once, makes it even better.

However, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 has the classic Musou flaw. It’s repetitive by nature, and to improve characters to ensure bosses are beatable, players are going to have to keep returning to already beaten missions. Perhaps it’s just me, but I can’t play more than three or four missions in any Musou game before needing a break, if only because my fingers have just gotten too tired. The original Pirate Warriors attempted to alleviate this with special abilities to reach new areas and quick-time-events, but Pirate Warriors 2 is a standard installment with no special hallmarks. In a way, it’s good, because there’s no fear of messing up events or missing anything, but it also makes for a game that feels like it can only be played in short bursts.

one piece pirate warriors 2

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 is satisfying in small doses.

Though my knowledge of One Piece is rudimentary, and I never even experienced the original One Piece: Pirate Warriors, I’ve found One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 to be an engrossing experience. It’s true that it may follow a bit too close to the Musou series formula at time, guaranteeing success to anyone who simply follows the onscreen indicators and attacks only named opponents, it differentiates itself by offering an entertaining story, assortment of playable characters and polished experience. If you need the satisfaction of completing a colorful story by conquering legions, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 should be on your radar.

Site [Namco Bandai]

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