Samurai Warriors 2 Xtreme Legends «

Upon firing up your first mission in Samurai Warriors 2: Xtreme Legends — either on PS2 or downloadable on Xbox 360 — you’ll find yourself asking all-too-familiar questions like “Haven’t I done this before?” or “Why am I doing this again?” The scenario is painfully familiar: Random warrior (it really doesn’t matter which one) is standing in the middle of a primarily brown battlefield, surrounded by men with spears and bows, with the occasional rider cruising by on horseback. The maps, the setup screens, the strategy: It’s all the same. The thing that the Samurai Warriors series has done, mostly, has been to provide a slightly different spin on Koei’s successful but tired Dynasty Warriors formula — that of massive battles and massive repetition.

[Click the image above to check out all Samurai Warriors 2 Xtreme Legends screens.]

In all fairness, people who buy this expansion pack (either for $29.99 on PS2 or 2,400 XBL points) know what they’re getting into. It’s an expansion to a game that bears all of the same dubious “features” as those listed above, so it’s not surprising that it’s more of the same. Where the real crime occurs is in Koei’s endless mining and wallet-gouging of its fan base. When the publisher first unveiled the Xtreme Legends series as a value-priced add-on to the main games, it was almost fun — a way to while away the hours in between the true sequels. But now that the fan base has revealed itself to be tolerant of this, it’s become a bona fide business model. That’s a damn shame, because the only reasons to even consider this game are the extra characters, the remixed features, and other additions (like raising the level cap and adding more difficulties) that the Xtreme Legends pack tacks onto the original game. Seriously, it’s not like they’re releasing the contents that just couldn’t fit in the previous iteration at a value price. Koei is proactively partitioning off a specific and deliberate amount of content that could easily have been included in the original game, which highlights just about everything that’s wrong with this industry.

Imagine, for a moment, if Electronic Arts were to ship the year’s annual Madden minus the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Imagine, every year, buying Madden 200X: Xtreme Legends to remix your teams with a fifth cornerback, much in the way Samurai/Dynasty Warriors gives you a fifth weapon with which to arm your generic and archetypical selection of characters (the handsome warrior, the burly fighter, the effeminate swordsman, the young-n-perky warrior princess, the jokey character). Really? A fifth weapon? Xtreme Legends also adds new difficulty levels, in case the last 40 games of this nature haven’t been enough for you, and adds zero innovation, unless you count charge attacks as innovative.

[Click the image above to check out all Samurai Warriors 2 Xtreme Legends screens.]

The reality is that Samurai Warriors 2: Xtreme Legends is a perfectly serviceable game, of adequate playability and decent variety, provided you’ve never played this game — in any of its myriad variations — before. But assuming you have dipped your feet in the pool of endlessly-recycled Dynasty Warriors backwash, it’s almost absurd at this point to have to pay 30 bucks for either the PS2 or Xbox 360 flavor of what is barely more than preconceived, half-assed, tacked-on downloadable content.


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