Onimusha Review

For PlayStation 2

By Contributing Writer Jimmy Payne

Rating: Good
   Onimusha is one of the top ten games that have arrived on the PS2 since 
its launch, but that's not saying much.  Resident Evil with swords is a 
concept that has a decent amount of potential, but not when the accompanying 
game offers very few improvements to the survival horror genre.
   Capcom created a big sense of hype for Onimusha by displaying the game's 
opening movie at various retail locations throughout the country.  If the 
game itself had any resemblance to this impressive cinema, Capcom might 
actually have a new hit series on its hands.  The intro sequence shows an 
excellently-rendered battle in progress, despite the fact that there are no 
such battles in the actual game.  If you go back and watch the opening movie 
again after you've played the game for several hours, it seems downright 
silly.  On a system where the games are supposed to "look like cut scenes,"
there's no excuse for making the cut scenes this deceptive.
   Onimusha's graphics appear to be splendid at first, but they seem more and 
more artificial as you play the game more.  The characters and their 
animations are so life-like that it's almost scary, but when you place these 
characters in front of static backgrounds, it takes away from the overall 
picture.  Pre-rendered backgrounds are fine for PlayStation 1 games, but I 
have come to expect a little more from the PlayStation 2 (especially when 
polygonal backgrounds were achieved over a year ago on the vastly inferior 
hardware of the Sega Dreamcast).
   Voice acting plays a minimal role in Onimusha due to the low amount of 
cut scenes, but when it is present, it only serves to detract from the game.
Extra emphasis is not placed on the appropriate words according to the 
natural flow of the English language, but is instead placed on a seemingly 
random word in each sentence.  This was funny in Resident Evil 1, but 
without lovable characters like Barry Burton to make it seem intentional, 
it's just plain bad in Onimusha.
   The few cut scenes that are in this game don't offer much in the way of a
sophisticated story line.  A soldier's female companion is kidnapped, at 
which point the soldier goes on an adventure to save her and meets new 
characters along the way.  This basic story line foundation stays predictable
from the beginning of the game to the end.
   Capcom went in the wrong direction when they decided to make all of the 
enemies demonic creatures.  Besides the fact that you're fighting regular 
humans in the opening movie, the demonic enemies lead the player to believe 
that the game is going to be scary.  I don't know about you, but I don't 
think there's anything scary about a bunch of demons running around in an 
open space waiting to be killed.  None of the enemies are particularly
intimidating, which is a major liability in this kind of game.
   The biggest redeeming aspect of Onimusha is quite a doozy.  The innovative
control system and the emphasis on swordplay combine to turn an otherwise 
boring game into one that can be mindlessly addictive for long periods of 
time.  It feels surprisingly fresh to use swords rather than guns against 
the enemies, and it's also nice that you can use your sword in a variety of 
different ways.  It's a heck of a lot more fun than simply holding down the 
R1 button to draw your gun and repeatedly pressing X to fire...
   Onimusha has a fair amount of flaws from top to bottom, but Capcom nailed
the combat aspects of the game right on the head.  It's too short and 
limited in scope to be worth buying, but Onimusha will still manage to 
entertain you for the entire duration of any weekend rental period.

Send your thoughts on this review to jimmy@mastergamer.com

      

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