When I reviewed Warriors Orochi 2 on the Xbox 360, I wasn't merficul. In fact, it got a 2.0 thanks to the terrible state in which the final retail copy shipped, marred by such horrendous framerate and slowdown issues that it was practically unplayable. That was on the Xbox 360.
The PSP version, small though the system's resources are when compared to the 360, runs absolutely fine. In fact, it runs better than the 360 version did even after a patch. Quite how this is possible when the PSP release crams in 96 playable characters (more than any other Warriors game), more game modes and full-sized maps with only minimal compromises in graphics and sound, I cannot fathom. Either way, the PSP version is better than the Xbox 360 version, and that's kind of ridiculous.
If you're into these things, feel free to read on as we review Warriors Orochi 2 on the PSP. If you're not into these things ... well, don't.
Warriors Orochi 2 (PSP)
Developer: Omega Force
Released: August 25, 2009
Warriors Orochi 2 is the second of Koei's big crossover titles, merging characters from Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors with an incredibly contrived storyline. The premise sees a powerful demon called Orochi bend space and time to bring together soldiers from the Three Kingdoms era of China and the Feudalistic era of Japan, for no reason other than for his own personal amusement. For something that involves demons and time travel, the story isn't actually very epic, being quite standard and dull. But this is a Warriors game, so that's to be expected.
To its credit, Warriors Orochi 2 boasts 96 playable characters, two of which are exclusive to the PSP version. As well as five different Musou (story) modes, there are also a selection of one-off "Dream" stages, and a versus mode that two players can partake in via ad-hoc.
The impressive thing about this game is that, like the original Warriors Orochi, Omega Force has managed to cram the entire game onto a UMD. This is no mean feat. None of the 96 playable characters are clones of each other, and the maps that players fight on are considerably large. There is an incredible amount of content on the disc, and the only real limitations imposed on the game is the removal of a few repetitive voice clips and slightly reduced graphics.
The only real negative side to Warriors Orochi 2 on the PSP is that it can be quite painful. While not as crippling as some games out there (like DS FPS games), button mashing on a PSP can cause considerable discomfort after extended periods of time. It's also really difficult to get the camera in a good position, and constantly needing a thumb on the analog nub is irritating. These are always big downsides whenever developers try and bring a console experience to the PSP. The system can handle it on a technical level, but the practicality often isn't up to scratch.
One must also account for the fact that the first Warriors Orochi has already shown us this game can be done on handhelds, and a repeat performance really isn't as stunning. Warriors Orochi 2 was one of the least necessary games Koei ever published. The original Warriors Orochi was a perfect swan song for Warriors games on the PS2, and the sequel may have added new characters, but did nothing else of note. Much of the content consists of assets from the first Warriors Orochi, a game that itself is a mish-mash of assets from previous Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors games. I am one of the most forgiving people in the world when it comes to Koei's approach to sequels, but Warriors Orochi 2 was just one sequel too far, the straw that broke the camel's back. It's a decent game on its own, but if you have the first Warriors Orochi, you don't need this one at all.
Nevertheless, it's still an impressive feat technically and I'd recommend the PSP version of the game over and above the console version, and not just because of the Xbox 360 slowdown issues. The PSP version has extra content and there's just something about the portable format that makes the Warriors games much more palatabla and acceptable. Button mashing on a handheld seems to work better on a PSP than it does on a home console, to the point where even a handful of cynics might find the series more enjoyable. Only a handful, though.
This is more of a mini-review, really, since all that we need to focus on is how the PSP version stacks up against the console version, and we've pretty much just done that. So, the final word is that the PSP release should be considered the superior one, running so much more smoothly than is console-based predecessor, packing more content, and feeling at home on a system more suited to its gameplay, despite the fact that playing for too long isn't recommended if you don't like pain in your fingers.
Score: 6.5 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)
reviewed by Jim Sterling