Warrior Orochi 3 Ultimate (PSVita/PS3) is the enriched version of Warrior Orochi Hyper on WiiU, which itself had several additions compared to the PS3 version. A large part of the game is common to all those versions : WO3 is an immense cross-over uniting famous warriors taken from Chinese dynasties, Japanese Sengoku era, characters from Ninja Gaiden or unexpected guests such as Achille (!) or Jeanne of Arc (!!). The story begins with the tragic defeat of the last remaining heroes against Orochi, a gigantic Hydra. Luckily, the fleeing heroes will meet a priestess who has the ability of sending them back into the past.
As convenient as this setting may seem, it brings fairly interesting situations. For example, after having powerlessly witnessed the fall one of your comrades as you were rushing to save him, you will later get the opportunity to change the past and redo the battle in different conditions, to finally avoid the tragedy. You control a group of 3 characters between which you can switch freely, or have them all on the field. The various missions are varied and you’ll have to attack, defend, escort, or fly to the rescue of your beleaguered pals. This is the crucial point of the gameplay : your party fight along other “generals” (as they are called) controlled by the IA to face the enemy generals and their army. You literally have to be everywhere at once in order to help them, as every rescue raises the morale of your side. This makes the missions crazily heated, because some generals will have to be protected at all costs, or else it’s game over. Consequently, you will often have to run across the map, desperate to break the enemy lines before the time runs out. The Orochi Warrior series is famous for throwing dozens of enemies at you, even though you wipe them out without much resistance.
To do all that, you have quite a lot of possibilities of action. Each of the 145 characters has half a dozen of combos and a special move. You can also attack with your 3 characters at once with 2 types of combined attacks of colossal power, have they can also relay themselves to perform more effective combos. You will indeed need all that to take on the merciless bosses that await you at the end of the map. It’s actually the big problem with WO3U : the bosses are far more powerful than the average general, and it’s not uncommon to get beaten in seconds. Seeing the game over screen having 20 minutes of effort is not pleasant. Fortunately, WO3U allows you to choose your difficulty before every mission, so that beginners can familiarize themselves with the game mechanics.
Let’s now focus on graphics and sound. Having dozens of characters on screen is nice, but it comes at a cost. WO3U suffers from an intense clipping and can’t display ennemies farer than 5 meters… Too bad but it remains managable thanks to the dynamic mini-map. On the other hand, the framerate holds surprisingly well : I don’t recall more than 2 drops in several dozens of hours! Backgrounds are poor and the rendering of the water primitive. The good thing is that great care has been taken in character modeling, who are as neat as on PS3. Animations and special effects are also pretty decent and classy. Omega Force (the developer) has made appreciable efforts to be as historically precise as possible : Date Masamune wears his legendary armor and Mitsunari has his famous emblem embroidered on his kimono. The guests characters are no less impressive, Sterk from the Atelier series is just perfect. Sophitia and Kasumi also come in, and I shall stress that the latter is NEVER coming to WiiU. The OST is also quite good, and the (surprising) rock an’ roll make the battles even more dynamic. The Japanese dubs are fantastic and immersive : the characters constantly express their joy, determination or distress. Even the background music during dialog parts make you dive into the story. Cherry on the cake, you can choose your favorite track when you redo missions.
Adding to the (already extremely long) story mode, several game modes of unequal interest are offered. The duel mode was underwhelming, as control aren’t very precise and the card system complicated. Free mission and Shin Musô make it possible for the player to create their own missions (a bit like in Dissidia Duodecim). The Unlimited mode is a parallel story with larger and random maps. You can have up to five characters in your party, and you’ll know soon enough why : the battle are brutally difficulty and only a team of maxed characters will be able to go through the nightmarish fights. A good mode for completionists. All those can be played in multiplayer via local or internet. A quick word about the gallery mode with which you can make very fine Vita screens.
I should have dived well before in this series. It’s action-packed, it includes a pokemonish number of characters, it’s incredibly long and its gameplay is addicting. A unique action game intense played with passion.