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Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams

Score 4 out of 5
Rated "M" for Mature
Capcom Entertainment, www.capcom.com

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Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams begins approximately 15 years following the annihilation of the infamous Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga at Honno Temple. Another dark shadown now looms over Japan as Nobumaga's successor, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, has decided to align himself with the evil Genma forces. Assume the role of Soki, a young warrior who possesses incredible power and skill, along with several other cohorts to try and thwart Hideyoshi's pursuit for power.

The Onimusha series has long been a favorite of mine. The formula is a good one: present enemies that gradually grow more difficult and couple that with some puzzles to keep the brain as active as the fingers. It works for me. Essentially, your character needs to destroy evil Genma (think of them as spiritual monsters). After you strike down each enemy warrior, you capture his soul and maybe some health. The souls are like experience points that you can use to improve your weapons and characters. You learn special (and devastating) attacks and unleash them on monster after monster.

New to Dawn of Dreams is the ability to control more than one character. The game has been rounded out to be more of an RPG as you contol a party and have the chance to improve your characters skills. This increases replay value, but in my opinion it makes the game more complicated than it has to be. You can give commands to your allies such as tell them to wait, follow, attack, defend, etc. You can combine your power to perform insanely powerful attacks. The cast of characters includes a girl named Jubei, a mysterious monk named Tenkai, the powerful and gorgeous Ohatsu and the Japanese-Spaniard brawler named Roberto. Each character possesses his or her own set of skills and special abilities.

This is a beautiful game. That's clear from the initial cinematic. The Onimusha series has always been beautiful. I remember insisting that my girlfriend sit and watch the initial cinematic from Onimusha 3. These guys really know how to create stunning graphics. The detail is impressive, the colors are vivid, and the effects are almost mesmerizing.

The world seems almost endless, with many many nooks and crannies to explore. There's always a hidden chest somewhere. It's two DVDs for crying out loud. New are "tests of valor" which enable you to obtain new items not found within the game environmnet by completing min puzzles and time events or challenges.

I do have several gripes with the game. Many times the camera angle is poor and confusing. It can be adjusted, but who wants to take time out from a battle to adjust the camera angle? Sometimes the enemy will knock you off the screen. I've even noticed that occasionally when I'm blocking I get hit. If you add all of these issues together you can end up with a frustrating battle.

However, this game is so good otherwise that my gripes don't really detract from it all that much. I love the battles and the weapons. The multi-character thing is very cool because you learn how to use each character's different style to your advantage. And, like I said before, this game is gorgeous.

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