The Straw Hats Sail Off | One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 Review
The Musou, or Warriors, franchise has seen it’s fair share of crossover entries. There have been team-ups with a variety of anime series, such as Gundam, Fist of the North Star, and of course, One Piece. The latter being the third installment with One Piece Pirate Warriors 3. For those uninitiated, One Piece started as a manga by author Eiichiro Oda back in 1997. It stars Monkey D. Luffy a very hard-headed, optimistic boy who, after eating a Gum-Gum fruit, is able to stretch his body. During his adventures, he has various people join his pirate crew, known as the Straw Hat Pirates, in their journey to find the illustrious One Piece treasure. The pirate who finds the One Piece treasure is said to become the King of the Pirates, which leads us to the beginning of the story proper.
The game starts at the beginning of the manga and anime, with Luffy helping Zoro escape and continues on till the most recent story arc, the Dressrosa Arc. The game is broken up into 4 different chapters each with several episodes. The story is a very truncated version of what is currently out there, but serves as a very good introduction to the world at large. Though several things are left by the wayside to speed up the pacing. Each arc is made to fit in one episode which features one map. So the story is told via cutscenes. The problem with doing it this way, is that it doesn’t help newcomers to the series, or veterans. The fans of the series who have been following for awhile, already know how the story plays out and just want to get to the new content. The people coming in fresh don’t get much by way of character motivation or why things unfold they way they do. I think a much tighter focus on the newer story arcs with a recap, or an introductory cutscene before playing would have been very beneficial to the whole thing.
Gameplay is a very standard, with regards to a Musou type of game. There are two buttons that determine attack strength, and as the crew levels up, more combos are unlocked. There is also a button that allows the use of a special move and a evade attack. But what’s new in this version of One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is the Kizuna Rush. You build up a meter and when full, you can call another teammate to help you do extra damage in battle. When the Kizuna Rush is active, you can actually get quite a bit of money from defeated enemies using this method. The absolute coolest thing is when the special attack button is pressed whatever character you’re playing as and the teammate called in do a flashy special attack. You can switch between different crew mates before initiating Kizuna Rush, and if you use the attack often with different crew, the attack gets more powerful as more members jump into assist in the special attack. The one thing I was a bit worried about before getting into the game was how redundant each level would seem, but there are enough varied objectives and they change a few times throughout a map to keep things different. The game also lets players call on someone, from the Internet, to help them if they are having problems on a map.
While I’ve had a mostly good time with the game, One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 does have a few things that have irked me. I played the game on the Playstation TV, which is the Vita version, and the visuals were pretty rough. The maps themselves looked fine, very, very little pop-in with the environment, but the enemies suffered from some terrible, terrible pop-in. I’d often go into an enemy stronghold that looked empty, but panned the camera a bit, and then 50 enemies would just show up. It happened very frequently. Another issue I had was with the very labyrinthine maps some of the later levels had. I would just stare at the map in the upper right hand corner of the screen to navigate my way around the environment instead of actually looking at the world. The only other major issue I had was the frustrating camera. It doesn’t follow the character when locked onto an enemy. A lot of times I’ll start winding up a special attack only to hit nothing but air. It feels like the camera often has a mind of its own.
Overall, I enjoyed the game. It is by no means a master work of art, but it’s definitely a lot of fun. The combat is mostly very easy to get into, despite a rather confusing leveling system. For One Piece fans, the game will be a great time being able to play with several different characters across the whole series. For the non-One Piece fans, it is still enjoyable if you like a beat ’em up with very lively characters.
One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is now available on the Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita and PC.