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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that players advance by killing everyone in their path and that blood shoots from bodies in fountains (although blood can be turned off). Also, it features overt stereotypes, including the main character, identified by his distinctive dress and heavy accent.
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What's it about?
The plot of SAMURAI WESTERN -- the third game in the Way of the Samurai series -- centers around a samurai who goes to the Wild West to find his brother, but the actual mission becomes secondary as you, the samurai, travel through corrals and ghost towns killing everybody in your path.
The game harkens back to the days when video games demanded a basic skill set from a player. Players have one attack button and two buttons with identical functions that allow them to evade or deflect bullets -- it's that simple. Players will get pretty good with the Japanese katana after practicing the same moves: slashing, jumping, spinning and stabbing. Cutting through outhouses and balconies, ghost towns and coal mines, you'll dispatch hundreds of cowboys without breaking a sweat (though your thumb may become sore).
Is it any good?
The premise is kind of strange and fun and the repetitive action can be therapeutic, but the game has plenty of quality-control problems. For one, you mostly fight clones of the same core group of bad guys, including riflemen, shotgunners, knife-fighters, and sombrero-wearing machine gunners. Despite their simplicity, the fight sequences are fun. Adrenalin junkies will enjoy moments when bullets are deflected with swordplay and three enemies at once simultaneously give up the ghost.
Players have the option of first- or second-person perspective; second-person is clearer even when fighting as many as 10 characters at a time. In either perspective, you'll find that if you go too near to a wall, the wall envelops the character, in effect blinding you. The violence and blood in this game make it inappropriate for younger players. Mature gamers looking to spend a few mindless hours should be fine, and may actually enjoy this goofy game for what it is: a not-too-deep, slash-'em-up, rip-roaring killing frenzy.
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