One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is an action game developed by Omega Force and published by Bandai Namco. It is, in many ways, a typical Bandai Namco game but it is one that I have grown rather fond of during the time I have been playing it. Bandai Namco have a reputation for making games out-with “The West” and it is fair to say that some games have had a better reception that others. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 was released in Japan in March of this year and has finally made its way to Steam, the Mecca for many gamers.

Usually, I am not a huge fan of the action/beat ‘em up games, I dabble from time to time but there hasn’t been a game in the genre that has gotten its hooks into me for a long time. Until now that is. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is a total “no brainer” game. It doesn’t look to reinvent anything within the genre, but it does a brilliant job of making the experience fun, chaotic and diverse.

The plot in One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is……. Well, it’s kind of strange. We begin the tale with our hero, Monkey D Luffy, as he embarks on a quest to become the Pirate King. I’ve never seen One Piece and this title is my first foray into the universe, so I may well be missing some crucial backstory that the manga would fill me in on. As it stands, from an outsider’s perspective, the story jumps around like a rowing boat in the middle of a hurricane. In the brief introduction to a level, I found I was getting a whole backstory for a character that the crew had met since the last level, but was never to see them again. I had to question the validity of including the information in the first place, but once again, I’m sure fans of One Piece will know exactly what is going on. As a result of this, I had a hard time following what was going on in the story, luckily the gameplay doesn’t rely on the knowledge of what in the hell is actually happening, luckily for me that is.

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Luffy’s quest will see him travel around the world as he recruits his crew, almost every mission is focused around trying to get a character to join you on your quest. As more people join the crew, you have more options in the character selection screen. I was impressed with how different the characters were in combat. There are no two characters alike and while some will have similar uses in battle (crowd control effects etc.) they all handle very differently. Scything through the battle as Zorro or Luffy made me feel indestructible and playing as Usopp with his exploding slingshot or as Sanji with his furious kicks, required a more tactical approach. Then we have the “odd” characters such as Robin (whose attacks cause disturbing disembodied hands to reach out of the ground and slap enemies) or Chopper, a small Reindeer that ate a special fruit that mutated him into a transforming Hulk Reindeer (it’s the best way I can describe it). There is no shortage of diversity in the characters and it is a safe bet that, eventually, you will find the character for you.

The soundtrack is fantastic, I really loved it. All of the music is upbeat and there are plenty of manga themed guitar licks that kept pace with the action incredibly well. More than once I felt like an ultimate badass as the music carried into a hoard of enemies.

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 has a nice aesthetic too, the manga style of the game fits well, all of the animations, and there’s a tonne of them, look great. There are clearly a lot of assets that are used time and time again but it doesn’t detract from the experience one bit. The majority of the cut scenes in One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3, are shown in comic book style storyboards, it can interrupt the flow of a level when there are three of these cut scenes in as many minutes, and on certain levels it gets very tedious. There are times when One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3’s frame rate would drop, especially when playing with a friend, these moments never lasted that long but it did bring me out of the moment.

The gameplay of One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is where I fell in love with it. It is one of the most chaotic, fast paced and fun fighting games that I have played. In each mission you are tasked with achieving a certain goal, be it defeating an enemy, saving a member of your crew or simply surviving an assault. There is a really nice range of objectives to complete that stopped the game from becoming too repetitive. Throw in bonus objective and there is no shortage of things to do.

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Battling hoards of enemies is an incredibly satisfying feeling. I don’t think I finished a level where I killed less than 1000 enemies and it was often far more than that. In many of the levels there are enemy controlled zones that you need to take. This usually involves slaying a battalion of enemy marines or evil pirates. It is a fantastically fun experience and put me in mind of the older Dynasty Warrior games. Special moves can be unlocked and used, either by yourself or in conjunction with crewmates to devastating effect. I really can’t say enough about how simple the gameplay is to pick up: button mashers are welcome, and will probably make a fair account of themselves or more experienced players can put together combos that will decimate a group of enemies.

You can level up your crew by using special coins gained in levels and using cash, it can be a bit of a grind to get the correct coins to upgrade certain stats but with such fundamentally fun gameplay, it never got to the point where I was fed up of doing it. There are other game modes outside of the main story missions that further add value to this title.

I loved One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 for one simple reason above all others. It is fun. The storyline is disjointed for someone with no knowledge of the franchise and occasional performance issues did cause some minor problems in this otherwise great game. Playing with a friend is great fun and with so many characters and levels to choose from, there’s no reason that One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 should pass you by.

 

FINAL THOUGHT—
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is a fantastic game. Its fun and chaotic gameplay is great and engaging, frequent boss battle adds variety to the enemies that you will face and with plenty of diverse characters to choose from there is no shortage of replay value in this title. Occasional frame rate issues did rear their ugly head and the story is not an easy one to follow, but even with those issues, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is one of the best games that I have played this year for the fun factor alone.

Graphics – 79/100
Audio— 96/100
Gameplay— 91/100
Story— 87/100
Replayability—95/100
Value For Money— 92/100

Overall – 90

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