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Onimusha 3: Demon Siege

In Demon Siege, Samanosuke is once again after the Genma, the demon monsters that gave him and Jubei Yagyu some tiny problems in the previous installments. Nobunaga is back and Samanosuke must face, once again, his evil nemesis. But the invasion of the demons is not limited to 16th century Japan: an army of Genma arrives from the sky in modern day Paris, guided by Nobunaga's lieutenant and demon scientist Guildestern, and it starts to savagely slaughter the poor people peacefully relaxing at the Cafes of the most beautiful city in the world. Sucked into a mysterious time passage, Samanosuke is brought to modern day Paris; things go even worse for Jacques Blanc, the new sturdy hero of the game, who is taken from modern day Paris to Samanosuke's fancy 16th century Japan infested by the same demons he has seen in Paris. Luckily for both our heroes, things will immediately start to make sense after their first steps into the adventure.

Capcom decided to change the pre-rendered backgrounds for this final chapter introducing fully 3D environments. In my opinion this makes Onimusha 3 look a more solid game than the preceding installments. The player can't change the camera angle, but the camera now nicely follows the characters through the very well detailed environments, with well-directed movements that give the game a cinematographic feel.Honestly, the 3D environments didn't make me regret the good-looking pre-rendered backgrounds of the previous games and I have been a fan since the first one and have beaten all of them. The environments in Onimusha 3 look more and more striking as you progress in the game, with some fine effects used to breathe life into them. Water effects, fire effects, dust floating in the humid air of the wooden houses of ancient Japan, together with the interest given to lighting help making of Demon Siege one of the finest looking games on the system. Obviously, the game also features a greater variety of environments than its predecessors, and this is another factor that keeps the pace of the adventure high. Of course, the way from pre-rendered background to 3D environments came with its consequences.  Onimusha 3 has character models with fewer polygons and less refined textures than those in the preceding games anyhow, the animations are definitely the best in the series, with an endless amount of movements motion captured for each character. Jean Reno's impressive feature and peculiar step, and Takeshi Kaneshiro's elegant movements are beautifully recreated in the game; the faces are also extremely detailed and realistic, more than in the previous chapters of the series. And the last thing I want to say about the graphics in this game is the opening cg movie which stays true to the tradition of the series by delivering a breathtaking example of finest cg animated art. Simply put, Onimusha 3 has probably the most spectacular introductory sequence you could ever dream of and is one of my favorite cg. Watch it, and you'll understand what I'm saying and I can guarantee you will be blown away.

The soundtrack of Onimusha 3: Demon Siege has classic themes usually accompany the adventures of the strange duo, but in the most dramatic sections of the game the music becomes more dramatic, epic, and definitely worthy of today's cinematographic standards. Typical Japanese instruments are used for good part of the themes, like in the past games of the series.  Sound effects are as usual extremely good and realistic, and they are used often to inform the players of the presence of enemies not displayed on the screen. One of the best things is that voice acting isn't as terrible as in Onimusha 2 or as in other Capcom's titles. It's bad that Jacques Blanc hasn't the voice of Jean Reno for the whole game, and it's bad that Ako the fairy is just annoying, but at least Onimusha 3 hasn't a main hero that sounds like a sick kraken.  Dialogues are also quite enjoyable After all; you are playing as a samurai in modern day Paris which should be fun.

Onimusha 3: Demon Siege continues the monster hack and slash tradition of the series and says goodbye to the RPG elements of Onimusha 2 - there are no longer different storyline paths, and gone is the trading system. The RPG elements of Onimusha 2 gave a little uniqueness in the 2nd one but I didnt really miss them at all.  Onimusha 3: Demon Siege plays very alike to the other installments, featuring the same weapon upgrade system and an even more wild speed. The biggest change is in the controls is they finally feature fully analog controls the old controls were using the d-pad- but playing with the analog stick to move your character in the environments is one of the elements that make of Onimusha 3: Demon Siege the best chapter of the trilogy, and the only one able to rival the agility and the speed of the Devil May Cry series.  Jacques and Samanosuke control identically despite their different features. Their weapons are what truly differentiate them. Like Samanosuke, Jacques is granted the Ogre gauntlet in order to defeat Nobunaga.  Samanosuke can use the weapons from the previous game only in the first minutes of Onimusha 3; when Samanosuke is sent to the future, he is excluded of all his old weapons. Little by little, he will find new magic weapons while exploring Paris and the Genma hideouts.  Dont be so sad the old swords are available as unlockable extras after you have completed the game.  Samanosuke remains the great swordsman he was in Onimusha - his short-range magic weapons are still a pleasure to use, and as you upgrade them by collecting the souls of the demons, the game becomes more and more fun. The new weapons includes the Tenso, two swords with the power of light, the Kuga, a very long sword with the power of air, and the Chigo, a battle axe with the power of earth and fire. Each weapon has different strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes it's essential to choose the proper one to kill a certain type of enemies or to defeat a demon boss. The Tenso, for example, are the fastest weapon Samanosuke can use in Onimusha 3, but they are relatively weaker than the other ones; the Chigo causes great damage, but it's also extremely slow when compared to the others. It's actually extremely fun to choose the right weapon in any occasion, and the upgrade system, which asks you to choose which weapons you want to enhance first, is as addictive as in past games. It's a light RPG element that blends perfectly in a game so focused on action. Samanosuke will also get two more weapons during the game and he can use his bow and arrows, which can be found in different types throughout the game. The bow is more than gimmick; it's extremely useful when you really need to avoid direct confrontations or when there are enemies that Samanosuke can't reach with his swords.  Jacques Blanc is given an Ogre gauntlet by the Oni at the beginning of the game. His main weapon is a whip, which comes in the forms of three different magic weapons during the game. Jacques will get his hands on the Enja, a sword/whip with the power of fire, the Hyosai, a morning star/whip with the power of ice, and the Raisen, a spear/whip with the power of thunder. All this weapons are used like whips, so Jacques can use them to grab enemies, to grab objects and then throw them at the enemies, and even to get to places that would be otherwise unreachable. Like Samanosuke's, Jacques weapons vary in speed and attack power. Also thanks to the new fully 3D graphics engine, Onimusha 3 is a faster game than its predecessors; while playing as Jacques, the agility and rich selection of moves of the main character reminds the fast paced action of Devil May Cry. The heroes have many special attack moves at their disposal. There are many combinations that you can experiment in the game and that make of Jacques probably a more fun and varied character to play with than Samanosuke, even if the samurai's swords gave me a reassuring feel that Jacques's whip weapons just hadn't. Magic attacks are still your trump cards, like in the other games, and you can unleash them, if you have enough Ogre Power.  Defense and counterattacks are also essential in Onimusha 3 it's impossible to complete the game without learning to block the enemies attacks, especially during the most crowded battles they are deadly counterattacks that can slice all normal enemies in two unfortunately it's extremely difficult to perform them since you must hit the attack button in the exact moment in which the enemy is hitting you with his weapon. The counterattacks can really make the difference from an excellent player and an average one. There are other elements that add strategy to this action game. Jacques and Samanosuke are helped in their adventure by a small flying fairy of the Oni tribe, called Ako, but that can be extremely useful during the battles. This little helper not only flies over the targeted enemies and retrieves objects in the surroundings: by equipping special vests she can give you a hand during the battles. You will find many vests for Ako during the game. The vests require Eco Spirit to be activated usually, the more powerful a vest is, the more Eco Spirit is required to activate it. Just to make some example, the vests can allow you to absorb souls faster, to regain your character's health while you stand still, or even to let you perform only chains of critical attacks.  Like in the past games, you can enhance your weapons at one of the many save points by spending the souls you have collected from demons. In order to make sure that all players arrive to key boss battles with a sufficient attack power, many doors in the game have special magic seals that can be unlocked only with weapons that have reached a certain level. Sometimes, if you didn't upgrade your weapons wisely, you might have to enter and exit an area to kill respawning enemies and collect more souls this was probably the most annoying thing in Onimusha 3, but the game is so genuinely fun that I was rarely annoyed by the fact of being forced to kill dozens and dozens of enemies. Like weapons, also armors can be upgraded - a good armor is invaluable against stronger bosses and demons. The monsters come in different forms, many of them taken directly from the previous game, others just clearly inspired by monsters already seen in the series. These zombie monsters come as swordsmen, archers, the fast 3-eyes, the Zorm, the Zagat, the powerful Dordo, the huge but slow Gacha, and many, many more. The bestiary of Onimusha 3 is indeed impressive for an action game, with roughly 40 different types of enemies that you have to face during the adventure. A.I. is also pretty good for an action game, with each Genma using many different attack patterns. Crowded battles with four, five or more Genma to kill also show how these bad guys try to hit you from multiple directions instead than waiting in line to take your life. The good enemy behaviors and the fact the developers carefully developed the game so that it gets more and more difficult - but also more and more fun - as you progress in the adventure shows an extraordinary attention to game balance that few action games can attain like Onimusha 3 does.  As the game goes on, you will also be given more freedom and more things to do at once. While in the first 3-4 hours you must play the two main characters in a predefined order, at a certain point, the Jacques in the past can interact with the Samanosuke in the future thanks to Ako, who has the power to travel through time and space and you can switch from Jacques to Samanosuke according to your needs. For example, you might have to retrieve an item in the future with Samanosuke that you can then send to Jacques in the past to open a door or solve a puzzle. While fans of pure action games might see this whole Time Warp thing as something that slows down the action, this feels much better integrated into the game than the item trading system in Onimusha 2.  Puzzles are extremely simple, and they usually require classic old style backtracking; throughout the game are also scattered puzzle boxes that you are not forced to open, but that like in the past games contain items that can usually permanently power up your character, for example by increasing the amount of health your character can have.  Onimusha 3 is definitely the game of the series that offers the best gameplay. It's a fine and extremely rare work of game balance that creates an experience that while being entirely focused on action, never gets repetitive or stupid.

Onimusha 3: Demon Siege is already a classic in my opinion Capcom did everything to make this ending chapter the best one of the series and well, they completely succeeded. Onimusha 3: Demon Siege has the uncommon power to be so fun that you can't just put your controller down and stop playing. I found myself playing at night, at 4 a.m., and still willing to kill more monsters.  Onimusha 3: Demon Siege is pure action. A game with a soul made of tradition and desire to offer players what they really want from a game: fun. And after all, this is what this series has been all about from the beginning.

I give Onimusha 3: Demon Siege a 9.4/10.

-Korben Carreno (SPARTAN002)