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Way of the Samurai

Developer: Acquire | Publisher: BAM Entertainment
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 05/31/02 | Genre: Action

When I was younger, I read a lot of books. Now I'm lucky if I read an instruction manual. My favorite books that I used to read were the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Books. Now, for those of you who don't know what I am talking about, a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book was simply that a book where you decided what was gonna happen next. By you choosing which way to go or what to do, you alter the story. This made for a fun read that you could read it over and over without getting tired of it. Well, imagine my thrill when I found a game that actually had the same qualities! And to even make it better, the hero in this "story" is none other then one of the coolest people in the world... the Samurai!

This game comes from a real up-and-coming video game publisher called Bam Entertainment. And after playing this title you will see why I call it that. But before we dive right into the review, let's set up the story. Way of the Samurai is set in the year 1878. The collapse of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the rise of the Meiji Restoration Era have brought an end to the Age of Samurai. For centuries, Japan had remained untouched and separate from other cultures. But now Westerners have finally arrived on the island nation, rocking a culture that had developed in seclusion over hundreds of years. Born to a time that no longer needs or welcomes them, these Samurai are a far cry from the heroes and legends that preceded them. This is a story of the way of the Samurai in their final days.

This game is an action/adventure game--but it's hard for me to tell you which it's more like. The action comes from the sword-flying, fast-paced Samurai action and the adventure comes from the choices you make that affect the story. Just to give you an idea on what I'm talking about, imagine you are walking across a bridge when you spot this good-looking honey on the other side of the bridge. All of a sudden some mean, half-naked Samurai runs up behind her, picks her up, and starts running away with her. Now here is where the choices begin. Do you (A.) ask him what the heck he is doing? (B.) just ignore it and say, "Hmmmm she probably deserves it" or (C.) just walk up to him with your bad-ass Samurai sword and handle your business? Any and every decision you make will affect the story and the outcome of the game, giving it incredible depth. You not only have to fight but you must also block and think when it is safe to go in for an attack. But don't worry, there is a great tutorial at the beginning of the game that will help you be the great Samurai you have always wanted to be!

Graphically this is one of the best-looking PS2 games available. Backgrounds and characters are very detailed and look very good. There are two ways to look at the sound. First, the music behind the game is perfect. If you heard this music, you would automatically think Samurai, so it is truly great. Second, the characters' voices -- well, they aren't really voices, they're more like grunts and groans which, to be honest, at first bothered me, but after playing the game for a while I think I would rather have it that way than some really bad voice actors. Since this game was originally released in Japan I really don't think you could get quality voice actors to play these rolls. In other words, I am glad that it's the way it is!

Just like any action/adventure game the camera angles at times are bad but you can move the camera view with your joystick. In addition, you can save a game BUT if you do it the next time you play, that newly-saved game will erase your previously saved game. If you forget and bite the big one, you're out of luck. But for you thinkers out there (like me--I'm a thinker), if you copy your saved game to another memory card you'll be in good shape! Just remember, you will have to do that every time you save a new game.

The game is action-filled, absolutely gorgeous, and best of all, deep--what else do you need? It is rated M for Mature by the ESRB for Blood and Violence (but, come on, any true Samurai knows there must be a little bloodshed). I enjoyed this game thoroughly and with all the different choice it will surely be a part of what I do for a while. And did I mention you get to be a SAMURAI??? How sweet is that?

By Kaleb Rutherford - 07/12/02
ESRB Details: Blood, Violence

Screenshots for Way of the Samurai

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