One of the titles that had a great deal of success on the PS2 was Onimusha Warlords (indeed it will soon be on the Platinum range). Dubbed by many as Resident Evil in a Samurai setting Genma puts you in the role of Samanosuke Akechi. Rather than be a straight port of Onimusha Warlords, from PS2 to Xbox, Genma Onimusha has been improved upon and contains several game enhancing modifications.
The background of the game is basically that in the Mino prefecture, soldiers and workers are vanishing without trace and the people are beginning to panic. Worried, Princess Yuki decides that help is needed and calls for Samanosuke to help. Samanosuke rushes to her aid but it is all in vain as when he arrives she has been kidnapped. Under attack from the warlord Nobunaga the people of Mino have too much to be concerned with without immediately going to find Yuki. Samanosuke and his partner Kaede go off to search for Yuki although they go in two different directions. During the course of the game you get to play as both Samanosuke and Kaede.
Combat is the name of the game in Genma Onimusha and the control system reflects that fact. Much like the default control system in Silent Hill 2 where if you pushed up on the direction pad the character would move forward, regardless of the direction he was facing. The only problem here is that sometimes you have to go to the left for the character to move right. If this is your first experience of a control system like this it will initially prove baffling. The solution in Silent Hill 2 was to offer an alternate control system. In Genma Onimusha there is no alternative control system though. While it may prove a little strange outside of a battle situation it certainly comes into it's own when in the thick of a dice 'n' slice situation.
Unlike in the PS2 version Samanosuke comes with a magical gauntlet which enables him to absorb enemy souls and equip orbs that can give him magical powers. Once Samanosuke has absorbed five green souls he can use Ogre Power that basically makes him invincible for a short period of time. There are also new armours on offer such as the Ogre armour. A host of new enemies to do battle with have also been included and to deal with them, Samanosuke can now make powered attacks to strike with more force. There are also several secrets to be found within the game. This feature alone should keep you coming back for more. There are also more enemies this time around. The hardest of these is known as the Doll Girl and she is really hard to beat.
On beginning the game I originally struggled and got slaughtered quite quickly several times. After about the fourth time in succession I received a message (in text) to say that an easy beginner mode had now been enabled. This allowed me to progress a lot further into the game. This is a nice touch by Capcom as it allows the player to not be put off by the game. The longevity of the game really comes down to what difficulty you play the game at. Play the game on easy and it won't take you too long at all where as if you play on the hard setting it could take you weeks. One thing for sure though is that the appeal of the game is such that you're going to want to replay the game simply to try and find all the secrets.
Graphically the game is fantastic. The animation and detail on the characters is wonderful. It is a shame that the backgrounds are pre-rendered but they look stunning nevertheless. The visuals in the cutscenes are as good as anything ever seen and the introduction is truly amazing. The only moan I would have is that the camera angle can sometimes become a niggle when it switches around during a battle as it can cause you to lose your bearings.
Now it's on to the best part. Since the release of the Xbox we have had a few disappointments with Halo and Oddworld not really catering for the deaf gamer but at last we have a shining example of how a game should be subtitled. Everything is subtitled in Genma Onimusha from the cutscenes to the conversations in-game. The cutscene subtitles are fantastic. They are on be default and slow enough for everyone to read. This makes the game so much more enjoyable for the deaf gamer. You really can't believe that everyone else hasn't subtitled their games in such a fantastic fashion.
Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10 A fantastic samurai action/adventure game. The difficulty levels and the secrets that are there to be found will keep you interested after the game has been completed. This game is a must buy even if you have Onimusha Warlords on the PS2 as the adjustments and extra features that Capcom have added make for a richer experience.
Deaf Gamers comment: This must be considered the benchmark game for the Xbox in terms of catering for deaf gamers. Let's hope other developers copy this shining example.