The experience is set in 16th-century Japan, a fantastical era in which warlords clash for control of the country. As the samurai Samanosuke, players volunteer to rescue the kidnapped princess Yuki. No surprise that the ultimate goal (and the entire story line, for that matter) falls by the wayside as hordes of demons converge on the player hour after hour. The weapons system benefits from the flashy graphics--as players discover and add gems to a gauntlet, weapon upgrades increase firepower with increasingly dramatic effects.
Graphically, the game is stunning. Carving through the levels--forests, tunnels, and the requisite dark, dank castle environment--isn't anything less than a spectacular experience, thanks much in part to the game's unusually high production values. Character models are built from up to 10,000 polygons each--high detail, even for a PS2 game. Subtle environmental effects--the wind flowing through the trees, for instance, ripples the fabric in characters' clothes--furthers the game's realism. The game's backgrounds are painstakingly detailed and nicely enhanced by dynamic lighting effects.
The talent behind the aural effects is just as impressive. Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro lent his voice to the main character, and a 200-piece orchestra delivers a dramatic score.
Call over any PS2 skeptics in your neighborhood, then load up Onimusha: Warlords. A few minutes with this game may turn any zombie gamer into a next-generation gaming system fan. --Eric Twelker
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