The ONE PIECE manga has been going strong for over 16 years and shows no signs of slowing down. The simple tale of a young boy setting out to find the greatest treasure of them all and become king of the pirates has enthralled millions of readers and has grown accordingly with them. ONE PIECE PIRATE WARRIORS 2 does its best to grow from the original game and does a commendable job, although it stumbles along the way.
PIRATE WARRIORS 2 attempts to give an interesting story mode, and it succeeds with the original premise. The Straw Hats find themselves split up after a mysterious gas turns everyone against friends Luffy and Nami; it is up to the two of them and some unexpected help to solve the mystery and find their friends. The story will take you from one major ONE PIECE location to another to meet characters who want to fight you or join your cause. All of these reasons are vague at best but you give up questioning any of it after a while.
The setup is fine but the execution falls flat in the first half of the game. This was disappointing because the beginning is very intriguing. The first PIRATE WARRIORS was fine but I’ve heard that story tons of times. The Straw Hats being split up has been explored before but not like this which made for a perfect reason to go from random place to random place. What really put a damper on the whole thing was that there were probably just too many random places to go. While it does pick up eventually, it takes so long to get there that anyone here solely for the story will be disappointed.
The story likely isn’t why you want to play this game though. The main draw is definitely being able to play as your favorite ONE PIECE characters and face off against other major characters from the series; and boy do the developers have you covered there. There 27 playable characters (there were only 13 in the original PIRATE WARRIORS) ranging from well known veterans like the Straw Hats to smaller side characters like Marco the Phoenix and Perona. While you will be hitting the same basic buttons when attacking over and over, the variety of characters and their attack types lead you to favor some over others. It is extremely satisfying to check out each character and see how they stack up against your other favorites.
What really disappointed me about PIRATE WARRIORS 2 was the lack of major boss fights like in the original and the lack of platforming segments. In the original PIRATE WARRIORS you would go through a level of fighting and platforming and eventually fight a boss separate from the rest of the level. It was full of button prompts for additional power and a finishing attack that made the whole fight much more cinematic and rewarding. That is all gone in PIRATE WARRIORS 2 and instead you simply fight bosses on the map without any of the cool additional parts. It really helped pull PIRATE WARRIORS apart from DYNASTY WARRIORS, and with that gone the similarities between the two are even more obvious than before.
In addition to the Main Log story mode there is also a Crew Log which lets you take on missions as each of the characters separate from the story mode. This mode gives you the chance to take a breather from the story mode and level up while earning some great additions that can be used in story mode such as support characters like the CP9 members. These are totally optional additions that fans will love being able to earn.
The game looks fine visually but isn’t anything too impressive. The cutscenes all look fantastic and the character models are all perfect but I was disappointed in the draw distances. This game is running on PS3 hardware and doesn’t render enemies or huge walls until you are within a fairly close range. It isn’t a major problem seeing as how the rest of the game is nice looking but it did stand out every once in a while as lazy.
The soundtrack isn’t anything to write home about but I did find myself humming along to a few of the tracks. I’m a man that enjoys video game music and the Punk Hazard track in particular was to my liking. The Japanese voice actors all do great work just like in the anime and Luffy’s signature laugh always brought a smile to my face. There is no English dub here though so you’ll be reading subtitles throughout the game.
While the original PIRATE WARRIORS was a retelling of the manga story line, PIRATE WARRIORS 2 gives an original story that stumbles but does pick up steam if you keep playing. The game packs in way more playable characters for the sequel and each have a nice, varied style that lend them all uniqueness when in battle. ONE PIECE PIRATE WARRIORS 2 falters in some areas while also improving the game in others leaving it right where it began.
Score: 8.5 out of 10