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     " Get off the dead puppy, pick up some of Laurell K. Hamilton’s "Anita Blake" books, and give us a story worth a damn. "

      Title: Onimusha: Warlords by Capcom

      Format: PS2 Action Game

      Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult

      The Hype: The people who brought you the fantastic, but way over sequeled, epic Resident Evil think you’re not quite done with the horror action drama. This time up, you get to battle your way through the standard demons, zombies, and ghouls as a soul-stealing samurai. But, is it enough to drop yet another hard earned two bits on? Read on, my Monkeys…Read on.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: With out a doubt, this game is aesthetically pleasing. Vibrant colors (which is always a plus in a "dark" game), beautifully painted backgrounds, and fluid characters make it all none to hard on the eyes. What’s more, the cut scenes are some of the absolute best I’ve ever seen. For quite some time we’ve been waiting for a good example of the touted DVD output in CGI and Capcom has finally delivered. We have to keep it from the coveted "5", though, for the complete lack of proper interacting of characters from the background…I mean, really…haven’t we come past the "my feet run 500 steps to move half a yard," phase? Or, even better is the "advancing really slowly means I’m literally sliding in a crouch." It’s pretty sad- but I suppose forgivable when you realize what else they offer up. 4 out of 5

      Sound: There are a few true staples in the horror genre. Zombies hiss, demons scream, and anything decayed should make a "splooshing" sound when it walks. For all these, I am happy to report, Onimusha ranks in at, or above, average. Unfortunately, average is definitely the adjective that rides all the rest of the effects this game pumps out, nice, average…even trite, sword swinging and combat sounds, simple but not unappealing music. And, of course, piss poor voice acting (again…Why…WHY are there no good voice actors in video games). In the end, the sound neither giveth, nor taketh away. 3 out of 5

      Game Play: Okay…I want you to remember playing Resident Evil. Remember the jerky movement style combined with piss poor camera angles? Remember the awkwardness of trying to track all of the enemies and attacking the right one? Remember being attacked by enemies you couldn’t see hiding behind a blind corner you didn’t know was there? You do? Good. Now I want you to imagine you’re doing it with a sword and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what playing Onimusha is like. Far too rigid to be a fighting game (despite the lack of constant combat), it was definitely designed playability last.
           The overall playing premise is that you will run up to an enemy, hack at him with a Katana (which is pretty straight forward button mashing) until he’s ready to hit you back, then you’ll hold down on the block button until he’s done, and then you’ll hack him some more until he’s dead. It’s really nothing complex. The only exotic element added is the presence of a gauntlet on your left arm, which sucks in the soul energy from the baddies you slay. This energy is then used in all of the ways you’d expect- including healing you, leveling up your weapon to give it better special attacks, and replenishing the special attack juice it needs, all very, very standard and completely unoriginal.
           That is not to say, however, that it’s unplayable or even overly unpleasant…you’ll definitely get used to it and/or look past it eventually- but you’ll always wish there was more to it. 3 out of 5

      Level and Environment Designs: Mostly composed of "find the key and double back until you find the door you needed the key for" (again, an reminiscent of Resident Evil?) the levels are certainly made by their beauty and ambiance rather than their ingenuity. Layout wise, there is absolutely nothing you haven’t seen a hundred times before. On the plus side, though, aesthetically they are great. Pretty, layered, and- most importantly, incredibly creepy…you’ll be happy to gawk as you walk past horror after horror. 3.5 out of 5

      Multiplayer: There isn’t any…And I’m not going to dink them for it since the combat system ain’t nearly cool enough to make you want to actually take anyone else on.

      Replayability: Again, harking back to what game…that’s right…Resident Evil…The only reason to replay this game at all is so you can make sure to get more of the little hidden items. Which, quite frankly, don’t affect shit unless you get them all- in which case you get an Easter egg that’s hardly worth getting. Needless to say, I didn’t feel the need to give it a second glance once I trounced it. 2 out of 5

      Story/Dramatics: Oooh…The evil bad guys have kidnapped the fair and helpless princess and for some unknown reason you’re the only samurai with balls enough to go after her. So, again, it’s one guy against the armies of the undead to rescue the girl. *Yawn* Oh, no…Wait…That’s not entirely true. There’s also a girl who you play through an alternate story line because you, for absolutely no particular reason, feel the need to split up rather than doing what any two people in their right mind would do…Stick together. Hmm…It’s almost as though we’ve seen this all before…Where could that have been?
          As for the story itself, it’s amusing though not particularly interesting. There’s demons who were raised because some schmuck thought he could control them or because some person accidentally tripped on the sacred stone keeping the baddies at bay or because it’s the third cycle of the fourth moon and evil’s chance to rule a millennium or…Shit…I don’t actually remember. That’s because it was more of the same trite drivel we always get from horror games.
          Game writers…here’s a tip. There are hundreds…Nay, THOUSANDS of great books and movies out there with plots more interesting and stories more frightening than what y’all keep pumping out. Get off the dead puppy, pick up some of Laurell K. Hamilton’s "Anita Blake" books, and give us a story worth a damn.
          Oh well…At least the cut scenes are very, very pretty. 3 out of 5

      Instructions and Learning Curve: The learning curve was a little steeper than I might have hoped and that’s entirely because of the awkwardness of the controls vs. the world layout and camera angles. But, still, it didn’t truly suck. 3 out of 5

      Installation and Real System Requirements: Good use of some of the PS2’s higher end functions and relatively low load times keep this in the higher 4 out of 5.

      The Verdict:

       Overall, Onimusha is fun but nothing ground breaking…or even overly interesting. Absolutely, by all means, pick this up as a 5-day rental so you can jam on some fun zombie hacking and puzzle solving but don’t expect to be blown away- or even wowed.

      The Good: It’s like Resident Evil…But with a sword!

      The Bad: It’s just like Resident Evil…Just with swords.

      The Overall Ugly: Pick it up, play it, enjoy the pretty pictures…Just don’t spend too much money on it.

      What it's Worth: A good 5-day rental.

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