The holiday season is quickly approaching and it's time to get thinking about the gamer in your life, or at least what to buy yourself with all of those gift cards. Here are three of Tecmo's biggest franchises, all of which have seen fresh new releases this year.
This last September saw the release of Dynasty Warriors 8 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The latest entry in this long running hack and slash franchise continues the story of the three kingdoms, allowing players to choose between the Wei, Wu, Shu and Jin campaigns. Interestingly, this game strays a bit from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, offering hypothetical situations that increase the game's replay value. Some new faces have been added, giving this game a roster of over 70 playable characters.
While the eighth main installment in the series certainly doesn't redefine the genre, it does a great job at building upon what was already established in the previous entries. Characters play similarly to how they did in seven, but fans will notice that 'clones' are gone. Every character now has access to their own special weapon, making them all feel unique in battle.
The new 'rampage' meter adds some more chaos to the fray, allowing players to unleash an unstoppable fury upon their enemies once its filled. This leads to some insane combos, which is saying something for a series that already throws enemies to the slaughter by the dozens. Unfortunately, having so many enemies onscreen at once occasionally leads to a bit of slowdown. These moments never lasted too long, and weren't as frequent as some of the past games in the series.
There's also the addition of the new Ambition mode, which expands upon the earlier Legend mode. Here, players work to build up a settlement in hopes of impressing the Emperor. Players will have to fight successive battles in order to find resources and healing is limited. It doesn't take long for this mode to become challenging, but the random events and resources may be enough to make it all worth it.
Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate
Tecmo initially stated that they would not be releasing additional characters for the standard version of Dead or Alive 5. They have instead decided upon this expanded version, which features five new characters in its roster. These include Ninja Gaiden's Momiji, Virtua Fighter's Jacky Bryant, Leon, Ein and Rachel. These additions bring the total number of playable characters up to 29.
The latest entry in the franchise centers around the newly rebuilt DOATEC, which is now under the control of Helena Douglas. She soon announces the fifth Dead or Alive tournament, which draws the series' characters together, along with two new ones. These include Mila, an aspiring MMA fighter, and Rig, a friend and co-worker of Bass. The plot itself is conveyed through non-linear but interconnecting chapters, with each section focusing on a different character. While the emphasis on storytelling was great to see, it never took too long to get back into the action.
Ultimate feels a lot like its predecessor, which certainly isn't a bad thing. The graphics and animation are top notch. It's apparent that a lot of time was spent reworking each character's techniques, with every character feeling snappy and easy to control. The franchise is also known for its destructible stages, which have also been kicked up a notch with the fifth game. Players are now able to prevent themselves from being thrown over the edge in multilayer stages by completing a quick time event. Granted, there's still a rather large possibility that your opponent can block your efforts, causing some serious damage.
Dead or Alive 5 aimed to revamp the fighting game genre, focusing more on pure entertainment than other franchises. The game certainly achieved it with its over-the-top characters and interactive stages. The Ultimate version rounds out the roster and is now available for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The Plus version of the game was released earlier in the year for the PS Vita, and includes an exclusive feature that utilizes the handheld's touchscreen.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge
Originally released as a Wii U exclusive, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge made its way to Sony and Microsoft's current platforms in April of this year. While this game received mixed reviews upon its release, this enhanced version has improved upon the original quite a bit, taking several elements from Ninja Gaiden 2.
The story begins when an unknown terrorist group gets a hold of the British Prime Minister and his family. Ryu Hayabusa is quickly dispatched in order to save him, but it doesn't take long before things go awry. A masked foe manages to place a curse on Ryu before sending a worldwide message that every country must comply with his terms of surrender within seven days, or meet the same fate as London.
Those who are new to the series, but may have heard of the franchise's unflinching challenge, can select the “Hero” difficulty in order to jump right into the game. While initially simplistic in its design, unlockable techniques make for some interesting customization. Players are once again able to dismember enemies, a feature that was noticeably lacking in the original version. As for the enemies themselves, their AI has been greatly improved, making them more aggressive than before. They're also more prone for suicide attacks, which makes for some pretty nerve wracking fights.
Razor's Edge also features Ayane as a playable character, giving her a couple of new chapters as well as an increased role within the game's plot. The new Chapter Challenge mode allows players to use her, as well as DLC characters like Kasumi and Momiji, throughout the game.
Overall, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge still isn't a perfect game, but the added content and improved combat make it worth the $40 investment. It is currently available for the Wii U, PS3 and Xbox 360.
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