Genji: Dawn of the Samurai


posted 11/14/2005 by Matt Mirkovich
other articles by Matt Mirkovich
One Page Platforms: PS2
Genji: Dawn of the Samurai has managed to build a love/hate relationship with me during the time that I’ve sat down and played it. On one hand it’s got a beautiful landscape and character design, excellent music, amazing CG cut scenes, strong graphics, a near flawless frame rate, and a very strong base for a story. But for the really strong positives it has, there are glaring negatives; lack of anti-aliasing, very repetitive and easy game play, and worst of all, it is terrifyingly short, has a very weak resolution and has virtually no end-game. I blazed through this game in quite literally a day, and when I got to the end I was left thinking, “This can’t be over already… damn, it is.”

Genji starts off by filling you with a great back story, the Genji clan and the Heishi clan are at war, the winner would be determined to be the most powerful family in Japan. The Heishi have the upper hand thanks to the god-like powers of their generals and would rule over Kyoto, but the ones who would bring the Heishi down would not be the powerful warlords from other various parts of the nation but would be Yoshitsune and Benkei descendants of the Genji clan. With the power they are granted that is called Kamui, they will fight and overthrow the Heishi. It all starts out well and good but rushes to the end very quickly, and does not seem to offer the resolution I was hoping for, a lot of the times it seemed like the story was swept under the rug in exchange for pretty graphics.

Genji does a damn fine job of looking pretty, to say the game is colorful is quite an understatement. If you’ve seen the recent Jet Li film; Hero, then picture that as the background for this game, very bright, and very attractive. This is accentuated by the solid 60 frames per second that this game runs at. All this comes at a price though as the game suffers horridly from aliasing issues, almost to the point of being Ridge Racer 5 quality. A lot of your time will be spent wading through hordes of soldiers, but when you get a chance, just stop and soak in the sights, and sounds, it’ll draw you in like a beautiful painting. A place to note in particular is when looking for a special sword for Yoshitsune, the waterfalls and general backdrop of the location is just a sight to behold, I’m torn between that location and the golden forest that you enter early in the game. The CG work in this game is also fantastic, every cut-scene is well animated and is very detailed and fluid. I can only hope the PS3 release of Genji will look this good.

When it comes to sound, you don’t get a more Japanese title than this. There is no English audio track, and the background/battle music sound like something you would expect to hear from eastern lands. If I were a bit more cultured I would tell you about the instruments that are all over this game, but I’ll just keep it simple, it sounds fabulous. I really have no complaints about the game in this regard.

Where things start to come undone falls mainly in how the game-play is executed. For the most part this game is a straight-up hack and slasher, and it’s not one that require a little bit of finesse like Onimusha, this game is simply all about mowing down tons and tons of nameless and faceless soldiers all while you gain levels and do a little bit of stat boosting. Throughout the game you’ll find many items that will change your stats and offer you resistances, but in all seriousness I never found a use for those items.

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