It is time to sharpen your sword and get down with some Samurai fighting action.
The Samurai Shodown series of games has been around for ever. Since the early nineties, SNK Playmore have been releasing new versions of this one on one fighting game, both in the arcades and on the home consoles. Now, Samurai Shodown Sen has arrived on Xbox360. But does this latest entry in the series live up to the quality of the past games? Or does Sen fall flat on its face?
Samurai Shodown Sen bears a strong similarity to the Soul Calibur series of games, in that that combat revolves around the use of weapons, rather than empty hand brawling. The player gets to choose one character from the large roster of unique fighters and then enter into one of the various game modes, such as story or arcade.
One of the problems that I have always had with fighting games, and believe me when I say that I have plenty of problems with them, is the lack of story or campaign. I can understand that the sole purpose of the game is to fight other characters and prove yourself to be the best of the best. But I enjoy a story, or at least a reason for the fighting. Sen has a story mode, although I use the word story in its loosest terms. Some text on the screen is all that this amounts to, explaining why the character in question is fighting and leads from one fight to the next. It really is just a link from one fight to the next and remains quite pointless. realistically, this is no worse than the majority of fighting games out there though.
The controls are a simple affair, with just a couple of slashes, a kick and the special/throw button. Using the buttons in conjunction with the analog stick in various directions gives access to a reasonable collection of combos. Some of these moves can look quite impressive, but seem to lack the polish of other current fighting games. Pulling off specific moves is not as easy as it should be, making the game become more of a button bashing affair than the precision, tactical combat that would perhaps be expected. At first glance, the game feels quite difficult and players may have trouble actually winning matches. But then certain moves are realised and the game becomes a simple matter of repeating these moves over and over.
Where Samurai Shodown Sen really manages to mess up, is in the graphics. The game is in 3D and, as a result, fails to impress, especially in comparison with other 3D fighting games. This series has been known for its sumptuous 2D visual style, and this style has been completely lost in the transition to 3D. The environments in which the warriors fight are dull and unimpressive and the fighters themselves appear to suffer from a lack of movement and, when they do move, the results are uninspiring.
It is not all bad though. There are some really nice finishing moves in the game and the Rage Explosions are a nice touch, allowing the player to glow red and pull off some interesting new moves. But I can’t help feeling that it is too little, too late.
I am not the biggest fan of fighting games to begin with, and Sen has not changed that. Perhaps the hardcore fighter can take the time to learn all of the moves and get more out of this than I. But the casual player of this style of game will find very little here to encourage anything more than a quick look.