Samurai II: Vengeance
Spill blood and chop off heads in this gorgeous but slightly repetitive adventure.
Samurai: Way of the Warrior is a good hack-an-slash adventure marred by repetitive combat and an average control scheme. The improved sequel, Samurai II: Vengeance, bests its predecessor with a wider variety of moves, universal support for all iOS devices and role-playing elements. All of this makes slaughtering waves of bad guys (and chopping off their limbs) more entertaining.
In it, hero (and wandering samurai) Daisuke sets off on a dangerous quest to find and kill his archenemy, Orochi. As expected, gangs of thugs want to make his life unpleasant, so you'll need to take them down with rapid sword slashes that result in decapitations and lots of blood.
For the most, Vengeance is little more than a button masher, but it's a good one. Instead of swiping the screen to attack, you guide Daisuke with a virtual analog stick and unleash his blade using visible buttons. You also have the opportunity to purchase new abilities via the shop, which let you destroy enemies with devastating combos. In addition, the game throws various traps your way, including spiked logs and other obstructions that you must skillfully avoid. Not the most original stuff, but it works.
The graphics, however, steal the show. Madfinger Games' Unity 3D 3.0 engine allows the designers to create these gorgeous environments inspired by feudal Japan, with architecture ripped from the time period, complimented by spinning windmills and various contraptions with moving parts. There's a ton of detail to admire, and we love the use of color throughout. Everything pops off the screen, especially on the iPhone 4.
Meanwhile, the story is told through comic book panels that add personality to the experience. If anything, we wish they were longer.
On the downside, the combat quickly grows repetitive. Despite the arsenal of maneuvers, everything boils down to rapidly pressing buttons and dodging arrows to clear a section of a level, which then lets you walk into another area that plays exactly like the previous one.
Thankfully, Samurai II: Vengeance has more good qualities than bad, and at $2.99, you won't regret the purchase. If anything, it may inspire you to buy the original to see how it all began.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.
What's Hot: Eye-popping graphics, universal support, satisfying hack-an-slash combat, comic book panels, virtual controls, learning new moves, dismembering enemies.
What's Not: Extremely repetitive.