Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kamen Rider: Battaride War (PS3) Review

As a fan of Dynasty Warriors games and of Kamen Rider, I was very anxious to get my hands on Kamen Rider: Battride War for the PS3.  Yes, this is from Japan.  Thankfully, the PS3 is region-free for most games, because this game isn't coming out here.  Was it worth the cost to get an import copy?  Ride with me and let's find out... it's showtime!

The riders and the enemies look good.  They are both represented faithfully, which is a surprised considering how many models they have on the screen with no slowdown.  By faithfully, I mean the riders look exactly how they should, and even have their mannerisms (Faiz's hand twitch, for example) intact.  The enemies are destroyed in their own unique way, such as the worms exploding in green flame or the OOO enemies turning into coins.  In short, all of the things in the game are legit.  Maybe a little too legit, since the still pictures of the riders actually look like photos of the actors in the suit.  Regardless, there's lots of good detail that fans of the shows should appreciate.

The music in the game is decent.  It seems fitting to the story parts and different parts of the stages, such as when you have to rush to a certain location or something dramatic is happening.  It's disappointing that only the "premium sound version" has the theme songs of the different riders, and that apparently they will play when fighting the boss of the stage.  As far as I can tell, and have read, the riders and characters are voiced by their actual voice actors, which is awesome.  Although, I was a bit disappointed that the Kuuga in the game is the Decade version of Kuuga and not the original.

The combat in the game is reminiscent of Dynasty Warriors, or more specifically like Sengoku Basara or Bleach: Soul Resurreccion.  The square button is your standard attack string, while the triangle and circle buttons are your special attacks.  Pressing both the triangle and circle buttons together is usually a character or forms' finishing attack, which you must do to the bosses to finish them.  That in particular, while sometimes annoying, is really fun since it is so accurate to the show.  The last main attack is square and X together.  Like an EX move from Street Fighter, it takes some meter, but is a stronger attack that also shrugs off hits.  It can be useful to use to escape a combo, but I rarely used it.

Pressing the R1 button will usually cycle through the forms (or cards) available for your character, while holding it down will activate said form or card.  L1 is the block button, useful for, well, blocking.  L2 will summon and mount your rider's motorcycle.  This can be useful to get to farther places on the stage in a hurry, or to collect the point rings in some stages, but the bikes can be pretty unwieldy.  After getting used to them, as they all behave a little differently, I can say that riding the bike is best used sparingly.  When the meter under your health is full, pressing R2 will activate your super move and put you in your super form.  The super form only lasts as long as you have meter left, so use it wisely for big combos or to finish the bosses in style.  Overall, the controls work fine and I had no trouble with combat.  The biggest issues are controlling the bike, and sometimes I would press the button for the bike and try to quickly accelerate... only to have it not register the L2.  That meant that instead of accelerating the motorcyle, I used my super move.  I'm not sure if it's an issue with the game, the controller, or muscle memory, but I know it's happened to at least one other person.

One of the less impressive parts of the game is the different stages.  There are basically seven locations, the warehouse district, the quarry, the mountain forest, the city, the school/moon base, the snowy area and the underground.  The last two are very small, but they are in fact different, so I counted them.  You will see each of these locations multiple times throughout the different levels in the game.  While this feels accurate to the show (they always seem to fight in a warehouse or at an abandoned quarry), more locations, or different variations of the ones presented would have been nice.

While there is a less than impressive array of stages, the opposite is true for characters.  The latest 14 main riders are all present, along with their different forms.  Most forms are unlocked with enough levels, or attained for a limited time after filling your meter and activating your super attack.  Several of them change the standard combo and special attacks completely, so they are almost new characters.  It's really cool that each character can change so much, since you technically have lots of different characters to use and have fun with.  Although I would love to play as more of the secondary riders that are actually present in this game, and some of the pre-Kuuga riders (Showa Era), the character selection is really good and done right.

You can also equip up to three figures on each character, providing different bonuses like increased attack strength, heath regeneration, earning more shop points, etc.  Most figures are unlocked by buying them in the store, and there are a few that have overlapping effects.  The figures available are good choices, since some are from the different forms, secondary riders and other things not usable in this game.  I'd advise looking up a list of the different figures, then get the best ones (increased shop points and experience) as early as possible.

The story mode is 50 stages and can take about 20 or more hours to get through.  Once you finish the first few stages, you can freely choose to start the next three chapters in any order you want.  The basic structure for the first half of the game is to do a stage where you defeat a rider and the secondary rider from a show, then the next stage has you play as that rider, and defeat their featured villain.  Completing this second stage then unlocks the rider for play.  After unlocking 4-5 riders in a chapter, you will have a final stage that furthers the plot.  The second half of story mode is continuing the plot to its resolution.  The language barrier might not prevent me from the menus or equipment, but it did prevent me from understanding most of the story.  I could piece together some of it, but I'm betting some of it just passed me by.

The other main section of the game is Rider Road.  You will be tasked with completing three preset stages (listed beforehand) with no healing in between, but you get stat boosts once they are done.  They use the same stages as story mode, complete with cut scenes.  It's a little lazy, but getting stat boosts makes up for it.  You can also replay any stage in Free Mode, which is nice for grinding experience, shop points, or driving distance.

There are two DLC characters for the game.  They are free, but require you to create a Japanese PSN account if you don't already have one.  You will have to navigate the Japanese PSN store to find them, but it's worth the trouble.  Most of the trophies for the game will be earned by completing the story and rider road sections of the game.  After that, the ones most likely left are the grind heavy ones, namely acquiring all the figures, driving a total of 555km, and having over 100,000 combo hits total.  The first two in particular will take awhile, since there are some expensive figures and you don't drive very far in the different stages.

I really like Kamen Rider: Battride War.  It's a good Kamen Rider game, and is even a decent hack and slash, more so if you know who most of these people are.  It's fairly import-friendly, since it is on the PS3 and the menus and such aren't too hard to figure out.  My only complaints are the lack of stages, and having more playable secondary riders or the riders from before 2000's Kuuga.  If they continue to add more riders in subsequent games, like Dynasty Warriors, I will gladly look forward to more of these games being released.  Clock over!

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