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One Piece: Pirate Warriors (PS3)

One Piece: Pirate Warriors (PS3) - Review

by Brent Galietti , posted on 22 October 2012 / 4,379 Views

Let's rock the boat!

Did you know that One Piece is the best selling manga in Japan, by an absurdly wide margin? No? Many people do not realize this because One Piece never took off in the west like Naruto or Dragonball did, thanks to one of the most reviled dubs in history. As such, previous One Piece games have missed U.S. releases entirely, to the disappointment of the American fans. But One Piece: Pirate Warriors bucks this trend. Namco Bandai has brought over Tecmo Koei’s Dynasty Warriors/One Piece mashup to the U.S. through the PlayStation Network, thrilling fans on this side of the Atlantic.

These are the faces of thrill.
While reviewing this, I am looking to answer one main question: Should someone who isn’t a One Piece fan buy this? Those already invested in the series definitely should get Pirate Warriors, but what about those on the fence? Let’s talk about that.

First off, boot up the game and you will immediately notice how great Pirate Warriors looks. The game has captured the aesthetic and feel of One Piece perfectly; it’s not a stretch to say that it brings the anime to life. Certain scenes from the anime are re-enacted using the 3D game models and it looks ridiculously gorgeous and true to form. The menus are all One Piece themed, the music sounds like it belongs in the anime, and the Japanese voice actors from the anime do a great job of putting emotion into the scenes. There is no option to use the FUNimation English dubs, unfortunately, but there are subtitles to translate the Japanese. No shortcuts were taken in making this look and feel like One Piece.

Kick everything that moves!
Fighting in Pirate Warriors is handled mostly by the Square and Triangle buttons. Each of the game's 13 playable characters has moves assigned to these buttons. Pushing them in different patterns will combo them into bigger, better moves. A full list of combos can be found in the pause menu at any time. Some moves work best in close range and others have a wider radius. Attacks can be charged by holding the relevant button. You'll likely find a few moves that work well for each character and use them as your bread and butter. The Circle button unleashes signature moves for each character that can do tons of damage, such as Luffy's Gear 2nd and Gear 3rd modes. The X button is the evade button, which offers a quick dash out of trouble. The D-Pad changes special attacks, which can then be activated with R1. Finally, if you have teammates nearby, press L2 for a comrade attack, which lets you briefly take over the other character and perform a combo.

One Piece: Pirate Warriors follows the One Piece story from Luffy’s humble beginnings up to the two-year timeskip in Main Log mode. The vast majority of this mode is played as Luffy, but there are occasional battles played as the other Straw Hat pirates. Each chapter of Main Log takes you through levels and battles, fighting thousands of puny Marines and minions, taking down leaders, and fighting famous One Piece adversaries. Main Log takes you through all of the One Piece story except for Skypeia and Thriller Bark, which are strangely absent (and Brook gets made fun of by the game for his arc not appearing in the game).

Main Log includes the fighting you expect from a Dynasty Warriors-esque title and also includes exploration and (sort of) platforming elements. Between fights, Luffy explores different areas en route to his next battle. Some of these areas involve solving puzzles, but many are just Luffy running to the next fight, responding to button prompts to jump platforms and climb and stretch around objects. The first few times this happens, the cinematic angles of the experience are really cool and enjoyable. After a while, however, this gets repetitive. As the game progresses, these exploration segments get longer and more complicated. It left me just begging for the game to get me back into combat instead of continuing to play a sequence of quick time events. I get that Koei wanted something to prevent fighting from becoming monotonous, but exploration became monotonous itself.

Stop, in the name of love!
Another Log is a new series of missions that can be played as any character unlocked through Main Log. Most of these levels are "Musou" levels, which are large, multi-territory locations each filled with battles. The main goal is to capture each territory, but often there are additional goals in each level, such as preventing a Marine Leader from reaching the end of the level. These levels have more fighting than Main Log and allow the use of any character, which makes them a more engaging experience than Main Log. These stages can also be played in co-op, offline and online, and beating up enemies in tandem with friends is always a fun experience.

Clearing levels in Pirate Warriors increases a character's level and stats. The more you play as a character, the stronger they will get. Additionally, coins are awarded at the end of each level. When equipped, they grant added effects, such as increased stats or increased strength to certain attacks. Pairing up certain coins will activate a special, strong effect - the Straw Hat pirate coins combine, as do members of CP9 and Arlong's crew. I found the coins to have a minor effect, so you can mix and match whatever you desire without risking crippling yourself in a later level.

Finally, Challenge mode pits the player against endless waves of enemies, including boss enemies. Scores in Challenge mode can be compared on online leaderboards. Main Log will likely take no more than ten hours to beat. Another Log has many more levels which can be mixed and matched with any character, so it will last players a long time if they're ready to try out the full roster of 13 characters. Leaderboards will also keep competitive players challenged, and multiplayer will help break up the quiet monotony of alone time beatdowns. 

Ok, don't cry, I'll wrap it up.
So, in the end, will you like One Piece: Pirate Warriors? Most likely. If you're a One Piece fan you will love the game. If you cannot stand Dynasty Warriors gameplay for even five minutes, drop my score by three points - this game is not for you. If you fall in-between, Pirate Warriors is a good game that, although sometimes repetitive, is engaging and action-packed and certainly worth a play.

This review is based on a PlayStation 3 copy of One Piece: Pirate Warriors, provided by the publisher.

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