Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 is not the usual kind of game I would choose to play a on handheld. This isn't to say that it's bad, but it certainly doesn't suit a small screen or the shorter play sessions that usually accompany a handheld console.
Anyone familiar with Tecmo Koei's Dynasty Warriors
style of game will be right at home in SWC3
. For those who have never touched this type of game before the gist is this - you create a player character and choose a default weapon type. Your character is then thrust on to a battlefield consisting of multiple regions, each region has objectives to accomplish (usually in the form of an enemy officer/commander to kill).
Besides the main objectives you have to fight your way through hordes of enemies whilst being aided by your own horde of soldiers. These hordes can have hundreds of individual combatants at a time. You win by capturing the map and defeating the commander of the opposing faction (or by reaching an objective, but more often than not it is about defeating the enemy).
If I'm going to be entirely honest I stopped paying attention to the story after three or four conversations that seemed to be primarily generals posturing, threatening one another and harping on about honour. Veterans of the franchise may get more out of the story than I did. What I can tell you is that it pulls from actual history and offers 'what if' scenarios to present alternate stories - what if a general managed to reach a besieged city instead of getting caught in a mountain pass and arriving days too late to save his liege lord? Japan's history is full of small but intense wars and suits this style of game marvellously.
I just wish the presentation wasn't quite so dry. There are sparks of humour and some interesting characters, but not enough to prevent me from skipping merrily though the conversations skim reading to get to the next battle.
Actual combat is a fun, manic mix of button mashing to get through the normal enemies and slightly less manic, more thought-out use of skills against the boss characters. The whole point of combat in these games is to make you feel all-powerful, and it manages that well, even on the PS Vita. You have attacks that vary in strength and effect and can swap between multiple characters around the maps to add variety to the type of combat you experience.
The Japanese voice acting is exactly what you'd expect. There's everything from gruff-voiced generals who sound like they're on the verge of shouting even when they are happily agreeing to a cup of frothy green tea, to wheedling politicians who could be voiced by elderly women even if they are supposed to be males, to the female characters who come in squeaky school girl or throaty seductress flavours. The full cheesey gamut is present and correct (mostly).
As is typical with a game developed by W-Force Omega the enjoyment you get out of it will highly depend on whether you genuinely enjoy the gameplay that they specialise in or your tolerance for repetition. I always struggle to finish one of their games because despite enjoying the gameplay I burn out on it fast. The exception to this rule has been Toukiden Kiwami
. That was in part due to the brevity of missions that game sends you on - they last ten to fifteen minutes. Some maps in Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3
can take over an hour and by that time I just want to move on to something else.
If you are a fan of the franchise and own a PS Vita (or a 3DS) then this is a no-brainer, buy it and you'll love it. If you are new to the franchise or genre as a whole there are much better entry points from Koei's catalogue of games.
+ Performs well and looks gorgeous on Ps Vita.
+ Excellent gameplay, if typical of the genre.
+ In-depth character customisation.
+ Great sounding Japanese voice cast...
- ...marred by dry, dull dialogue.
- No one will be clamouring for the soundtrack
- Required gameplay sessions can be too long for commuters/staring at a tiny screen.
SPOnG Score 7/10