Way of the Samurai
Game Info
Playstation 2
bam! entertainment
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Animated Blood, Violence
The Good

• Excellent environments
• Lots of choice and variety
• Battle system easy to pick up
• Unlockable Battle Mode

The Bad

• Weak NPC AI
• Way too short
• Music/sound effects are repetitive.


19th Century Japan. The Koruo and Akadama clans are in the middle of a turf war in the Rokkotsu Pass. As the ronin (masterless samurai) Kenji, you wander into the pass and become another piece of the story. During the next two days, you can either join one clan or the other, or neither. You can choose to fight everyone in the pass or no one at all. That's what makes Way of the Samurai so unique.

Gameplay: Once you take control of your samurai, you can walk around locations looking for people to talk, and then possibly fight, with. Cutscenes and conversations often allow you multiple responses, which will affect how NPC characters act towards you. Once you begin a fight, you can choose between blocking, light or hard attacks. But, just knowing how to attack is not enough. You also need to learn how to parry or sidestep attacks or make your enemies unbalanced. When you defeat an enemy, you can take their swords, even though you can only carry three and most are fairly plain. Each sword has different button combos you can learn and even have different attack styles. And then there's the durability gauge to take into consideration. When you make attacks that get blocked, your blade takes wear on the gauge. When the gauge fills, the blade loses a notch in the gauge and when the gauge runs out, the sword breaks. To prevent this, you need to cease attacking until the gauge empties. You can also upgrade your blades at the local swordsmith. When you finish the game, you gain points and a grade for your efforts. Get enough points and you unlock Battle Mode, a fighting game when you can play as a one player or two player, which on it's own can be quite fun and challenging.

Graphics: As a whole, the game looks pretty good. The environments and visual effects add a nice touch that makes the locales draw you into the game. The whole time you're playing through the game, you really get a visual sense that this is a real location recreated for a videogame. While character models may look blocky in structure, the texture maps and facial features give them enough detail to look good. One of the weakest spots in the game is the water, which looks almost nonexistent unless you splash into it, and then it looks like it was made for the Playstation a few years ago.

Audio: Way of the Samurai starts off fairly well, with nice sound effects and fairly good music, but it tends to grow old quick. About an hour into the game, you've basically heard all of the sound effects and music there is in the game. The battle theme will grow tiresome after about the third or fourth battle.

The Bad: While the in-game camera can be moved around in most areas, it tends to be static in some areas, making combat more difficult in those locales than it needs to be. The NPC AI in battles is somewhat weak: if you tend to get into a fight with multiple enemies and allies, you need to steer clear of your own ally, unless you like to get hit. And, if you manage to get into a fight with two other forces and manage to kill people from both sides, whoever wins up and leaves, no matter how many of them you killed.

And, then there's the shortness. Way of the Samurai manages to last around 2-3 hours. But, considering that there are multiple endings and multiple ways to play through, you'll most likely play this one multiple times through before you're done. Think of Way of the Samurai as the Japanese samurai flick you can make all your own.

- - Kinderfeld

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