Game: Arslan: The Warriors of Legend
Consoles: Xbox One, PS4 (reviewed), PC
Publisher: Koei Tecmo America
Developer: Omega Force
There’s been a recent trend developing within the action, beat ’em up genre. Popular manga/anime properties have been handed over to Omega Force (the development team that spawned the Dynasty Warriors series), who mashes them up with their familiar button mashing mechanics. Hiromu Arakawa’s famed The Heroic Legend of Arslan is the newest series to blend in with the large scale battlefields seen in most Omega Force’s games. The final product is surprisingly competent thanks to its impressive art design, strong storytelling and deep battle mechanics.
Arslan: The Warriors of Legend throws fans and newcomers right into the harrowing journey of Arslan, a young prince who wishes to liberate his kingdom of Pars. For those who are completely new to this franchise, there’s a lot to appreciate here plot wise. Arslan must come to terms with the turncoat that once fought for his army, befriend a band of characters with rich personalities, come to terms with the harsh reality of slavery etc. Before each large scale encounter, the game’s wonderfully animated cutscenes detail the coming conflict at hand. Arslan is a caring prince and his allies are just as commendable and memorable. Every scenario will cause you to care more about the political strife occurring within Arslan’s vast world. The constant jokes from the more lighthearted characters thankfully lightens up the mood.
When it’s finally time to head into battle, you’ll do so by combining light and heavy melee attacks. This should come as no surprise to anyone who’s extensively played Dynasty/Samurai Warriors. What makes this rendition of the well worn gameplay a little bit deeper is the powerful Mardan Rush. Throughout each battle, you’ll truly feel like a commanding officer as you push hard against several nameless soldiers and crash through barriers. Wiping out hundreds of baddies with your allied forces never gets old. Along with that cool feature, each character can switch up their carried weapon mid-combo. Upgrading their stats is implemented due to the Skill Cards system, which also manages to give players an extra element to take advantage of.
After making your way through the extensive Story Mode, there’s not much left to do but hop into previously unlocked missions on your own or with a buddy. That familiar sense of “been there, done that” soon sets in, which has always been a legacy problem with the Warriors games. That sneaking sense of repetition will eventually take over and cause you to be less thrilled about replaying the same missions over and over. The 15 war heroes you’ll attain are fun to keep upgrading, but you might not have the same sense of urgency to keep fighting with them in Free Mode. An additional map clearing mode like the one seen in One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 would have given us and everyone else more of a reason to return to this release.
Graphically, Arslan’s cel-shaded illustrations are most impressive on the cast of characters. It’s easy to see that a lot of care was taken with adapting this manga/anime and sticking to the art style it’s most known for. What’s less impressive though is the wide battlefields themselves. The dreary landscapes you’ll explore don’t look quite as good as the characters fighting within them. The frame rate tends to drop at random intervals, plus environmental pop-in issues happen more often than not. These complications aren’t huge problems, but they’re bothersome nonetheless.
Arslan: The Warriors of Legend continues the welcome trend of Omega Force’s Warriors spinoff releases. This manga/anime’s grand tale is told perfectly by the game’s Story Mode. With a lovable cast of characters, mature themes and amazing cutscenes to enjoy, players will easily get sucked into Arslan’s epic struggle. The gameplay itself is a bit stronger thanks to the awesome Mardan Rush maneuver, weapon switching system and character upgrading Skill Cards. But like most Warriors games, that repetitive feeling will soon creep in. Those aforementioned graphical problems also pop up and hamper the admirable art design. This latest button masher still stands strong though and is a nice introduction to Arslan’s long-running adventure.
- The Story Mode features several endearing characters, which will cause you to care about the conflict at hand
- The cel-shaded visuals offer up a great representation of the manga/anime
- Utilizing the Mardan Rush, pulling off multi-weapon combos and maximizing the use of Skill Cards adds more to the button mashing formula
- A lot of the environments don’t shine as well as the character models
- Like most of Omega Force’s beat-em up’s, this one does get quite repetitive