Onimusha started life as a PS One game. Eventually, the game progressed onto the PS2 and became an oustanding addition to Capcoms survival horror line. The sequel continued the storyline and fight against the evil Nobunaga. The supposed final game in the Onimusha trilogy began life as PS2 game from the start and became an epic that rivals even the the best movies in Hollywood.
As with all good vs. evil stories, the demon overlord Nobunaga once again tries to take over the world with his demon horde, but ancient Japan just wasn't enough. Thanks to his right hand man, he now has the ability to send his troops through time into the present day. Where else to send them but France? The entire scenic city is overrun by the time the game begins and were introduced to Jaquce Blanc (voiced at times and played by Jean Reno) who gets immediately sucked into the story. Samanouske returns from the previous game and ends up in present day France while Jaquce gets sent back to ancient Japan.
If you have played either of the previous games, you'll feel right at home here. The basic combat remains the same and puzzles remain close to the predeccesor. New combos have been added and the critical hits are spectacular. If your lost as to how to perform any of these manuevers, training zones are available at any save point (which are numerous and always placed within reason from difficult areas). New to the game are cloaks which are found at various points during the game. These give the characters various strengths such as regenerating life, faster soul absorbition, and other powers to make the game easier.
With the time travel aspects firmly in place, it becomes neccesary to solve puzzles across time. Something that may be accesible in one era may not be available in other. Pieces are sent through time at warps (usually next to save points) with with your "tengu" named Ako, a mildly annoying fairy creature who actually plays a large role in the game and storyline. You'll need to think about what items are needed where and know when to send things over. It's an ingenious twist that really pulls the time travel aspect together.
This is a much more action oriented entry to the series, even with the puzzles. Towards the end, you'll find segments of the game that resemble the Dynasty Warrior series from Koei. You'll be in the midst of a huge war zone, battling along other troops and sapping souls at a rate never before seen in the series. Other scenes have another character battling alongside you, slaughtering the evil forces intelligently. They'll occasionaly get in your way and prevent you from moving, but you can push them slowly if your really stuck.
As with any time travel storyline, there are obvious problems that make little sense (there are actually 2 Samanouske's), but ingoring these minor problems doesn't hinder the entire picture. Returning characters from previous games are back to try and stop you in your tracks. Fans of the series will be pleased with the new additions to the roster as well.
Throughout the adventure, you'll control more than just the two main characters. You'll take control of Jacques fiance', Michelle, and take on the demons with some gunplay. This causes some control problems as targeting is mostly automatic and she never seems to be aiming where you want her too. Still, the segements are short compared to the rest of the game and getting through them isn't overly difficult. Otherwise, the controls are tight and pulling off the super-cool 10 hit combos will be instantaneous with practice.
If your a fanboy looking to make a point about the PS2's graphical prowess, you've got your game right here. This is the most impressive, gorgeous, and single greatest looking game to ever appear the console. The pre-rendered backgrounds have been ditched in favor of fully polygonal backdrops that simply must be viewed in motion to be appreciated. The camera is a minor problem only in a few minor segments of the game and does remain stationary for the most part. The infamous "jaggy" graphics that the PS2 is so famous for are certainly a part of the game, but hardly detract from the sightseeing this game provides.
Even with the polygonal backgrounds, the character models look just as sharp as they did before. It's a technological feat on every level. Famous Paris landmarks appear throughout the game and modeled with no detail left out. Notre Dame proves to be a key location and you can almost say you visited even if you've never stepped foot inside.
Even better are the game cinematics. The opening CG is jaw-dropping and light-years ahead of anything you'll see in a theater. Most of the cinematics during play use the games graphics engine and are stunning. The animation here makes it look like the characters are actually acting throughout. Games like this prove there is no need for another generation of game consoles next year.
Likewise, the sound is explosive and just as awesome. The Pro-Logic II support is outstanding and this is the best I've ever heard the format used. It's been a long time since I've said this, but the sound effects are just unbelieveable. The lifelike sounds of gunfire, swat teams moving in (all around the player with the proper equipment), and swords clashing are just flawless. Voice acting is only so-so and unlike the previous games, there is no option for Japanese language. Stranger still, Jean Reno delivers all of his French lines, but someone else does his english talking (Ako has the power to make everyone speak the same language). Can't forget to mention the epic soundtrack either which all recored by an orchestra.
The entire experience will sap about 12 hours of your life the first time around. It could easily be done in about 8 with a guide, maybe sooner. The difficulty level is extremely low, mostly due to the addition of the cloaks. Simply finding an open area and standing still will let you regain life. All the med kits you need will be readily available for the big boss fights.
Beating the game unlocks tons of neat stuff including a sort of "deleted scene." You'll play through a short segment of the game as a 4th character which adds a bit to the story. Added difficulty levels, alternate costumes, making of features, and new weapons all become available as you play through the game more than once. There is a real nice shooting gallery-type mini game as well. Oh, did I mention multiple endings (make sure to watch after the credits)?
Die-hard fans may be dissapointed by the easier difficulty level (I died twice through the entire game and that was within the first two hours), but this could very well be attributed to the near perfect camera as much as it can be blamed on the cloaks. This is the only real detractor the game has, but same may feel it's highly repetive just like beat-em-ups of the past. Those of us who grew up throwing the same four hit combo to the same enemy time and time again will have no problem relating here.
This is an epic trilogy, the video game equivalent to the Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. An entire series is rarely this solid and the 3rd game should never be the best in the series. Here, it happens. The combination of flawless graphics, intense good and evil storytelling, along with the already classic gameplay of the first two games makes this a must play and early contender for game of the year.