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Onechanbara Z2: Chaos
Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Marvelous Entertainment Inc.
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:
Ah, I love the sight of fresh blood on my sword. Thatís probably something a certain vampire protagonist would say. One who wears rather interesting outfits and slays hordes of the undead. Still canít guess who I'm referring to? Well, today weíll be covering Onechanbara Z2: Chaos, a new game in the familiar series featuring sexy ladies and fast-paced zombie slaying action. XSEED Games is providing a hell of an adventure, so youíd better dust off those swords because things are about to get messy.

When it comes to graphics, I expect nothing less than amazing from the PlayStation 4 and it definitely delivers. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos looks beautiful from start to finish. Every stroke of the sword, every cut into a zombie, the dismemberments, everything looks absolutely amazing. Every trail of blood that comes flying out of your enemy and staining your sword, every combo, simply everything is gorgeous. The PlayStation 4 definitely proves to be a powerhouse by handling the insane amount of enemies on screen, but they donít stick around for long once you start showing off that sword finesse. The zombie character models are pretty generic for the most part, but they do fit in well with the rest of the game. The main castís character models look very well and extremely detailed, especially Kagura and Aya, but I point those two out for different reasons. Ahem. Anyway, the stages look very nice as well. I particularly enjoyed the attention to detail in these landscapes, but Iím just a sucker for work put into the background, as well as the art of an environment. I quickly ruined the backgrounds once I began painting them with blood, but they were nice to look at from the start. Oh, my poor, sweet backgroundsÖ Forgive my negligence!

I love the soundtrack in this game. Itís everything you could ever want in a hack and slash game like Onechanbara Z2: Chaos. For the most part, the soundtrack consists of upbeat and fast-paced music. Iíd say it has a pop and rock feel. Other tracks sounded calmer during down times and also adventurous tunes as you explore the field. I give the soundtrack a thumbs up, as I really enjoyed listening to it between combat scenarios. It really shines during those intense combat situations, though. Trust me when I say youíll feel incredibly empowered as you go on your rampages with some fast-paced beats pushing you forward. The sound of swords slashing through the air and zombie flesh add to the experience as well. The sound effects are incredible, to say the least. Zombie groans go unexpectedly well with weapon strikes, even more so when the weapon strikes are tearing through them. Anyway, Z2 also features full voice acting for the cast, and in English too! You can change to Japanese if you like, but I really enjoyed the voice actors for the girls and I feel it was done really well. Thereís also subtitles if you prefer to read along rather than listen.


Gameplay:
For those of you out of the loop, Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is a hack and slash game from the Onechanbara series of games. Players take control of four girls as they go on a bloody rampage to stop the undead that are popping up everywhere. Most of what youíll be doing is advancing through the stages to reach the end and defeat a certain monster. Your mission is relatively simple, but the question is can you accomplish it?

The goal in Onechanbara Z2: Chaos isnít very difficult to discover. After a certain point in the story or any other game mode, youíll be able to select the order of the girls. The first one you pick will be the one you start battle with. When you go to change characters in-game, the characters will cycle through the order you selected. From there, itís time to unleash your carnage. The controls arenít too difficult to get used to and players of all skill should be able to catch on quickly. You move your character with the Left Control Stick and from there itís time to unleash hell. Get familiar with the (Square) and (Triangle) button attacks, because those make up your main combos. The (Square) button features faster combos, while the (Triangle) button has heavier hitting combos that can easily slice your opponents in half. The (Circle) button is your side weapon. It doesnít do much damage nor does it usually have a lot of combo potential, but itís helpful for continuing chains or interrupting attacks. The (X) button allows players to jump and holding the button allows you to do a chasing dash attack which will take enemies with you. Itís very useful for dishing out quick combos, escaping or even just traversing the map. The (R2) button allows you to evade attacks and if you hold it, you can dash. You can weapon change with the (L2) button and donít forget to lock on with the (R1) button to focus your attacks better. Use your tools wisely if you want to be the most stylish zombie slayer out there.

The HUD isnít difficult at all to get used to. All players really need to take note of is their characterís health bars to the left of the screen, as well as their weapon gauges. Youíre bound to glance over there every now and then, but if youíre like me, youíll be too preoccupied with the carnage to notice your health until you die. Thereís also the score meter to the top right which shows your score. You obtain a higher score by slaughtering zombies, stylishly. Aside from that, as you slay enemies left and right, youíll probably notice red and yellow orbs being dropped on the ground. The function they serve is pretty simple, with yellow orbs giving you much needed points to buy different things from the shop and red orbs increasing your Stain Gauge, but more on that later.

Letís talk characters. Iíve mentioned that youíre able to set the order of your characters and change characters, but I havenít said what that means yet. Thereís four characters available in Onechanbara Z2: Chaos and youíre able to use all four of them in-game. The cool thing is that you have access to them all at once. You can switch characters using the up and down buttons on the Directional Pad and youíll switch based on the order of your characters. You can switch between Kagura, Aya, Saaya and Saki. Fans of the Onechanbara franchise will recognize Aya from past games and Kagura from the predecessor to this game. In Onechanbara Z2: Chaos, theyíre teaming up to stop the undead, even if they havenít put their differences behind them. Each character has a different playstyle than the others, so thereís no shortage of combos to learn between the four characters. Personally, I used Kagura for most of my playthrough because she was the only character whose combos I could get down. Sheís very fast-paced and can zip through enemies in a breeze with her dual swords. Aya has a calmer approach, taking down hordes of enemies with steady and precise strikes using her single sword. Saaya is similar to Kagura, but her attacks are slower and more brutal since she uses a chainsaw. Saki is more berserk in her attacks because she uses her fists. Thereís a playstyle to fit everyone, so find the one you like best and master those combos. Theyíll be a big help in your battle against the undead.

Customization can go a long way in many a game and thereís a ton of customizing to do in Onechanbara Z2: Chaos. You can upgrade each of the girlís weapons by saving up enough orbs to purchase them from the shop. Thereís also plenty of combos to unlock from the shop as well, as long as you can meet the orb prices. The prices arenít too hefty, so you should be able to unlock quite a bit if youíre stylish enough on the battlefield. Iíd kick myself if I left out the outfit customization though. This is where customization can truly shine. You can change each of the girlís outfits from their clothes and accessories down to their hair. Many of the different accessories and outfits can be unlocked by completing certain challenges in-game. If youíre the impatient type, thereís also quite a bit of DLC you can download to get your customization fix. If you thought this game didnít have enough fan service before, go check out the strawberry banana outfits. Thatís ultimate fan service right there.


Difficulty:
Donít feel too bad if you want to play Onechanbara Z2: Chaos, but hack and slash titles arenít exactly what youíre best at. The game features three difficulty levels at the start that players can choose in order to familiarize themselves with the game. Players can start with Easy, Normal or Hard Mode depending on their mood. Despite which difficulty you pick, you shouldnít have too much trouble at all. On Normal and Hard, you will need to watch your health bar as the damage enemies deal does ramp up quickly. Coupled with the fact many of the enemies canít make your characters stagger, you probably wonít notice youíre near death until you actually die. The Violence and Berserk difficulties are where things begin to ramp up. You can unlock Violence after you beat Hard and you unlock Berserk after you beat Violence. I do recommend giving them a try, as they do add more fun to the game even if you feel youíre not the best.

Game Mechanics:
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos may be a hack and slash, but itís still got its share of tricks to give players an edge in battle. Youíll get really familiar with the combos as you progress through the game and they certainly do quite a bit for you, like help defeat your enemies. They do a lot of other important things that Iíll touch upon shortly, but first Iíd like to direct your attention to a nifty little combo mechanic that will make the job of your combos much easier and that is the COOL State. By pressing your attack button at the right time, you can speed up your combo and slaughter your enemies faster than with a normal combo. You canít just spam press the (Square) or (Triangle) button hoping to pull off a COOL State combo. Each combo has a certain timing in order to perform a COOL State combo and youíll know youíve hit one whenever the girlís hands glow blue. Just keep track of your weapon state with the weapon gauge because youíll be covering your weapon in blood very quickly using COOL State combos. A bloodied weapon attacks slower and has less damage than a clean weapon, and not even a COOL State combo can compensate for that. Use the weapon refresh with the (L1) button to clean your weapon. You can even use it in midair, and if you use it after certain actions, you can refresh faster. Keep note that each weapon has a different timing for the COOL State combo, so be mindful when you swap to your secondary weapon. You can learn the timings in Practice Mode and I highly recommend you do as itíll really help with filling the Ecstasy Gauge.

To talk about tricks of the trade in Onechanbara Z2: Chaos, I have to mention the Ecstasy Combinations. Letís not discuss the name, but the Ecstasy Combination is a special attack that the girls may use once their Ecstasy Gauge has been filled. While some of you may have your mind in the gutter upon hearing that name, the Ecstasy Gauge is actually filled by slashing your opponents to pieces. My guess is that name stems from the euphoric feeling the girls get by being in combat. Not quite what you imagined, eh? Anyway, the Ecstasy Gauge is located right above the health bar. There are three gauges and you can fill all of them over time, but you only need one filled to use an Ecstasy Combination. An Ecstasy Combination can be activated by pressing the (Triangle) and (Circle) buttons simultaneously and boy, do they hurt. Each of the girls has a unique attack and you can even switch between attacks using the left and right buttons of the Directional Pad. Youíll have to buy more attacks from the store, but theyíre definitely worth it.

So, I mentioned that Stain Gauge earlier. You can find it around each of the girlís health bars. Youíll really notice it once it starts to fill red. The red coloring is the blood of your enemies and red orbs. As the Stain Gauge fills, youíll notice your character start to become covered in blood, glow red and stand in a weird position. Once the Stain Gauge maxes out, whatever girl you have selected will go into a berserk state and destroy the enemies surrounding her. Once you progress in the story, the Stain Gauge has a new function for Kagura and Saaya. Once their Stain Gauge is maxed, you have the option of transforming into their demonic state by pressing the (L3) and (R3) buttons. This changes their appearance completely and increases the strength of their attacks as well as their attack speed. They turn into super vampires basically. That much power does come with a drawback, however. While transformed, the health bar will steadily drop. Thereís always a price to power, but the power is well worth it.

A wise old man said "Itís dangerous to go alone!" back in the day. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos doesnít abandon this philosophy by allowing the four girls to go into combat together. As an added bonus, you can even summon them to fight with you instead of swapping to them and having them fight alone. As you travel through an area, youíll notice a bar filling underneath each of the girlís portraits to the left of the screen. Once you see the words "Iím Ready!," you can press the Touch Pad and summon the other girls to fight alongside you. You can have all four girls on the battlefield at once and youíd better believe this can create absolute havoc for the poor zombies who stand in your way. Donít hesitate to summon your friends to help you in battle!

Whether youíre a hack and slash veteran or a humble player looking for some fun, Onechanbara Z2: Chaos wonít disappoint you. Youíve got everything you could ever want from a hack and slash adventure right here. From the fast-paced combat and oodles of fanservice to the beautiful environments and amazing soundtrack, you wonít be hard pressed to find something you love about this game. Now if youíll excuse me, I need to get back to admiring Kaguraís outfits. Wait, I mean slaying zombies. Yeah, definitely slaying zombies.


-SS-54, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ren Plummer

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