One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: Action
 
Rating: M15+
 
Release Date: 27/03/2020
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
3.5/5


User Rating
1 total rating

 

Positives


- Flashy and bombastic combat
- Plenty of content to jump into
- Character models are great representations of the source art

Negatives


- Story is truncated and loses the magic of the source material
- Environments are repetitive
- Music and voice acting are forgettable


Posted April 14, 2020 by

 
Full Article
 
 

It always surprises me just how long One Piece has been around for.  We’re coming into the twenty fourth year of the manga’s existence and yet it still feels like the end is nowhere in sight. I started reading and watching One Piece when I was in high school 15 years ago, and it’s one of the large reasons I got into manga as a whole (along with Naruto and Bleach). Because of this connection, I love to check out the series video game adaptions (in fact, this will be my third One Piece game review after One Piece Unlimited Cruise Red – Deluxe Edition and One Piece: World Seeker) and see how well they translate the story and characters I love into an interactive format. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is the latest One Piece game and the fourth Dynasty Warriors style game from Omega Force. The destructive and chaotic action of Dynasty Warriors marries perfectly with the power-fuelled nature of One Piece’s characters, but many of the trappings of Pirate Warriors 4 fail to engage.

If you’ve somehow never heard of One Piece, let me give you a quick crash course in the series. It takes place years after a famous pirate by the name of Gold D. Roger announces to the world that he hid his treasure (called, you guessed it, One Piece­) in the Grand Line. Ever since, pirates from across the World have been trying to make their way to find his treasure, often clashing with the Navy and World Government. Many of these pirates have special powers bestowed upon them by things called Devil Fruit which have given them what are basically superpowers, but have a downside – making them sink in water. This lays the groundwork for some amazing fight scenes, as characters’ powers gradually escalate to greater and greater heights the further into the story you get.

Sounds like a perfect match for a Dynasty Warriors game focused on wiping out thousands of enemies, right? Well, you’re perfectly correct. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 brings a bombast and pizzazz to the formulas combat in a way that many of the other games and adaptations don’t. Whether you’re using Luffy’s rubber abilities, Sanji’s kicks or someone flashier like Sabo and his flame abilities, combat is always filled with far reaching special attacks that simply decimate the waves of grunts in front of you. Combat feels extremely fluid and responsive as well, with dodges flowing perfectly into attacks (and vice-versa), and special attacks being a simple 2 button combo to trigger. Everything gets a little more difficult as you move into boss battles, where you’ll need to employ some strategy to focus on breaking your enemy’s guard before being able to do any meaningful damage. Pirate Warriors 4 easily has the best feeling combat of any One Piece or Dynasty Warriors game I’ve played, even if the camera pretty constantly gets itself into awkward positions that make it hard to follow.

One Piece itself follows Monkey D. Luffy, an affable idiot, as he gathers friends around him and makes his way to claim the title of King of the Pirates. Overall, Luffy’s constant positivity and focus on friendship bring an energy to the series that stops it from being your run of the mill action story. With twenty-four years’ worth of story, there’s a wealth of storylines and sequences to choose from, and this is where Pirate Warriors falls over for the first time. The game focuses in on 5 specific arcs of the series, significantly reducing the overall scope of the story. While it would be unreasonable to expect the full story of the series here, heaps of incredibly integral and meaningful moments are relegated to minute long exposition dumps between cutscenes, while others are wrapped into in-mission storytelling. What this means is that much of the impact and tone of the source material is completely lost, replaced with a story that randomly jumps forwards in time and gives you little to form a connection to. While the story in One Piece: World Seeker wasn’t amazing, maybe focusing on an original story would have been a better option here, instead of using such a truncated version of the source material.

As you progress through the story (titled Drama Log), and the subsequent combat-filled missions that come with it, you’ll be rewarded with a range of items and experience, as well as unlocking more characters that you can use in the game’s other modes. Currencies can be turned in on a series of game-wide and character specific growth boards, increasing stats and unlocking new combat skills and moves that can be used. As you unlock more characters, you’ll also get access to more episodes in the game’s Treasure Log mode. Treasure Log can be played solo, or with up to four players online, and features sets of missions and episodes you can complete to unlock rewards, with the difficult increasing with each episode. Together, the character growth progression and Treasure Log give you a great reason to stick with the game outside of the Drama Log, offering a bunch of extra content to jump into.

One Piece has an extremely distinct art-style, for better or worse, and One Piece: Pirates Warriors 4 is a fantastic representation of it. Characters look like fantastic 3D renditions of their original 2D art (although they’re not quite as high quality as the models in One Piece World Seeker) and are instantly recognisable, while the enemies you face look perfectly at home in that style. Outside of the game’s characters however, the environments of Pirate Warriors 4 are much less engaging. While they’re relatively detailed, assets and textures are repeated ad-nauseum, quickly growing boring and disengaging as you spend 15 minutes in a mission running through 5 different plazas and 15 different walkways that all look the same. A similar thing can be said for the game’s music and voice-acting, which are by no means terrible, but are simply forgettable.

In the end, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is a game I would recommend to One Piece or Dynasty Warriors stalwarts. Fans of either will find more of what they love, with engaging and bombastic combat, and plenty of content to keep them entertained for hours. Newcomers to One Piece will likely walk away wondering why anybody would love the series thanks to the game’s incredibly truncated and disengaging story, while if you haven’t enjoyed a Dynasty Warriors game in the past, this isn’t likely to change your mind.


Andrew Cathie

 
Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.