I’ve had this game for quite a few months now and I finally managed to beat it! The game wasn’t that hard, but it was just tricky to make time to play it. This is definitely the definitive One Piece game at the moment and I even found it more fun to play than the Unlimited Red title. That one was also excellent though, even if the story mode wasn’t absolutely amazing like this one. Pirate Warriors 3 just had that epic feel about it and can hold its own against Ultimate Ninja Storm, Raging Blast, and Soul Resurrection.
This game covers the entire One Piece series up to the latest arc. There’s a fake ending here as the arc hadn’t ended at the time, but that’s fine since it still works as a solid ending and some of the big enemies of Luffy’s past (Blackbeard) get to show up as well. I’m pretty sure that the game’s writers liked Kizaru as his role in this game was certainly beefed up. If you don’t know the plot of the One Piece franchise, it takes place back in the golden age of pirates. The legendary Gold D Roger left some treasure and a kid named Luffy wants to find it. He assembles a crew and sets sail. Naturally, the pirates are outlaws so Luffy has to deal with the government as well as many evil groups of pirates who would stand in his way.
There’s a lot to do in this title and that’s always a good thing. Naturally, story mode will take up the bulk of your time and it’s decently long. There are 22 levels and they all range from 30-60 minutes. You’re certainly getting your money’s worth there and you can choose to replay the levels at different difficulties to try and fill in a treasure map on each chapter by completing various challenges. Each character can be leveled up as well and the coins that you get through the levels can be used to unlock super attacks or just increase some stats. If you want to play as a different character during the levels then there is also a free mode that you can get into.
As is becoming the fashion with these big beat em up games, there is also a mission mode adventure where you play through abridged versions of the story mode levels. There will be secret bosses here that you don’t run into in the normal story like Shanks. This mode is a lot longer than the story mode and likely more difficult although it’s hard to say for sure. If you’ve got the time, this mode is definitely worth checking out.
There’s also a shop where you can spend your money. Typically it would be a huge grind to buy everything, but this is surprisingly not the case in this game. You earn a lot of money in Story Mode just by completing the levels and this increases exponentially when you get S ranks in any chapter. I managed to buy all of the soundtrack themes, costumes, and bought most of the movies. I nearly cleaned out the shop and that’s without just about any grinding. (I did grind for a little while, but mostly spent the cash on level ups for other characters) You don’t want to forget about earning those PS4 trophies while you’re at it either. They seem pretty fair for the most part, but very, very time consuming. I don’t see myself getting the Platinum here anytime soon, but you never know.
That’s enough about the replay value and features. You get the jist of it. This game will capture your attention for quite a while. Next up, let’s talk a little about the gameplay. That’s the most important part for any video game and it is excellent here. I’ve never met a beat em up that I didn’t like and this can hold its own with any other. You have your standard attacks and power moves that you can link up into many different combos. Every character has a special attack and four special variations of normal moves. Then you’ve got double special attacks and final smash techniques. Every time you use a final smash with one of your teammates, they’ll stick around for the next one. If you play your cards right, this means that you can do a final smash technique with your whole crew by the end. Granted, you’ll never actually need to do this (Except for a trophy) but it’s cool to look at.
The gameplay is nice and fast paced. I’ll admit that I do miss the combos from the younger days though and I wonder how that works in Free Mode. The final few levels force you to play as the older Strawhats and while their attacks are ridiculously OP at times, I just loved how smooth the classic ones were. You’ll certainly be able to pick out a favorite character in terms of gameplay by the end and then you can focus on mowing down the enemies. If you defeat a lot of them in one hit, you’ll get a lot of ! bonuses, which are helpful for S ranks.
I liked the soundtrack a lot although it is very limited. It’s not nearly as engaging as the themes that you will hear in something like Transformers Devastation, but one theme can always make a difference. That’s what happened here as I love the “tense” music theme that plays whenever a villain appears. You know that things are about to get serious and the other themes aren’t bad either. The graphics are also pretty solid. It’s not quite Sonic Adventure 2 Battle or the streamlined style of Mario, but the Cell shading still looks decently good for the cutscenes. I’ll admit that it looks better for the gameplay though, but I’d love it if One Piece could borrow the flashier look of Dynasty Warriors Gundam or something like that. I dunno, something about the graphics just kept it a solid spot under most of the big titles that we get nowadays like Super Smash or Gundam, but they’re still not bad by any stretch of the imagination.
Overall, with the solid array of bonus content to keep you busy, this is a must have that is worth the high price. If you have not gotten into One Piece yet, this game is a great starting point as you can instantly get near the end of the franchise as you will almost be caught up. The gameplay is great and the game succeeds on the technical levels as well. It’s decently easy even when on hard mode, but that’s just because it’s hard to find that right balance of making it hard without being impossible. You still have to fight tactically on hard mode and grinding will have to be done to clear the game on that level. I look forward to seeing what the game does for the next installment. Hopefully they add a multiplayer option to the game though. Even if it’s not a vs mode, a co-op mode is always a nice option for the gamers. When you really dip deep into why this game is so good, it’s because Pirate Warriors 3 is just a lot of fun. Defeating the enemies by the dozens never gets old and you can easily lose yourself for a few hours at a time here.