GAMES - Article
15:00 - 28th September 2015, by Matt Kamen

Third Piece

If anything truly defines One Piece, it’s the frenzied, high-energy battles that fill the pages of Eiichiro Oda’s enduringly popular manga and the colourful, over-the-top anime adaptation alike. Short of finding one of the mythical Devil Fruit that bestow outrageous powers on so many of the cast, though, the best way to experience that fast-paced combat yourself has to be diving into the games – and with Pirate Warriors 3, you’ve never been closer to joining Luffy’s crew.

Journey to the New World

Like its predecessors, Pirate Warriors 3 is developed by Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors team, Omega Force. Once again, it takes the familiar gameplay of the ‘musou’ genre, where hundreds of enemies fill the screen awaiting a super-powered pirate beat down, but it throws everything into overdrive.

It’s able to do that in part because of the leap to PlayStation 4. More power means more enemies on screen, bigger bosses, and more detailed environments. Visually, the series has never looked better, perfectly capturing the essence of the animated One Piece with perfect representations of the expansive cast and their bizarre world. You’ve never seen a One Piece game that looks as good as this.

Fans of the series will be also delighted by the massively expanded roster of playable characters appearing in Pirate Warriors 3. Along with the likes of Luffy, Zoro, and Chopper come more obscure faces. Luffy’s inspiration Red Hair Shanks, Marine admiral Fujitora, and even the nefarious Doflamingo can be controlled in battle, each wielding their unique attacks and powers, and all are presented in as brilliantly outrageous fashion as in the anime. All told, there will be 37 characters in the final game – and that’s only counting the roster announced to date! Any secret characters or possible DLC additions may bump that over 40, promising a frankly ridiculous amount of replay value.

Joining the Crew

Packing the screen with enemies and looking pretty while doing it is all well and good, but how does it play? Rather well, as it happens. NEO’s hands-on session involved a mission set during the Fishman Island arc of the series, placing it around the events of episodes 523-574 of the anime. While that’s about 300 episodes ahead of Manga’s UK DVD releases, fear not – the full game will span from the earliest days in Fuchsia Village right up to the currently running Dressrosa arc. The game also does great job of catching players up on events they may be unfamiliar with, using manga-style “pages” as story cutscenes.

While the historically influenced Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series keep things vaguely grounded in reality, there’s no such restriction for One Piece. Although the similarities are clear, entering areas and taking control of territory by defeating waves of foes, the sheer range of abilities of the One Piece cast spice things up far beyond mere hacking and slashing.

Three basic attacks – light, heavy, and super – saw mermen swatted away like flies, a hugely satisfying feeling. Haki, a form of spiritual energy in the One Piece universe, can be used to further enhance attacks or chain into greater combos. The sense of power on the field is immense, and the new ‘Kizuna Rush’ – a team-up move where up to four other characters can join in on combo attacks – almost makes us feel sorry for the bad guys.

With its staggering number of playable characters, thrilling battles, and stunningly accurate anime visuals, Pirate Warriors 3 may be not only the best One Piece game but one of the best musou games, full stop. Look for the full version on PS4, PS3, PS Vita, and PC on 28 August!

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