Thursday, 17 July 2014

One Piece: Unlimited World Red

One Piece: Unlimited World Red is one of those games that demand knowledge of its franchise. But while the uninitiated may assume that the One Piece franchise might consist of a few games and a short manga series, the truth is far more striking. In case you don't know, One Piece began as a manga in 1997. Helmed by Eiichiro Oda and appearing in Weekly Shonen Jump, the series became an instant hit, and has since become the best selling manga in history. Though it's still being made, the manga has also spawned a hit anime show, which again, is still on going. The One Piece franchise has also spawned over 30 games, marking it as an anime that is hugely successful in whatever medium it tackles. So with 74 manga volumes, 650 episodes of the anime and 36 games behind it, for a non-fan to waltz into One Piece: Unlimited World Red without an idea of what One Piece is, it is not only daunting, it's nonsensical. So, as someone who has read some of the manga, saw a few episodes of the anime and played two of the games... here's my take on the series' latest gaming addition.


Developed by Ganbarion and out now on PS3, PS Vita, Wii U and 3DS comes One Piece: Unlimited World Red, a game made for hardcore One Piece fans. That said, let me just lay it out right here. Yes, Unlimited World Red is heavy on the manga's established lore, characters and history. Yes, the game was intended for the hardcore and active One Piece fanbase. However, anyone can enjoy this. While you may not fully enjoy it as much as a One Piece fan, when it comes down to the heart of the fun, playful and addictive gameplay here, any gamer can sink into this world. Just like every other release of One Piece media ever, the main protagonist is Monkey D. Luffy, a loveable rogue that one-day wishes to become a pirate king. He's also the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates, a rag tag bunch of colourful seafaring adventurers. Newly introduced to the series is villain Patrick Redfield, who kidnaps all the members of Straw Hat Pirates apart from Luffy. Now, aided by a magical Racoon named Pato, Luffy must not only find his captive friends, but also confront Redfield himself.


One Piece: Unlimited World Red is a third-person action adventure, and if I had to compare it to another game on the market, I'd say it's akin to a mash-up between Batman: Arkham City and Kingdom Hearts. The focal point of the adventure is Trans Town, which serves as the hub of the game. From here you can explore with ease, interact with the towns various characters, and accept a number of main and optional quests. Whether it's simply venturing through Trans Town, making your way through deserts, ice caves or thick, lush forests, controlling Luffy is simply a joy. From the puffy smoke that shoots out behind him as he sprints to how his hat bobs back and forth on his back, the sense of movement, speed and adventure here is wonderful. This nicely extends to the combat too, which is fluid, dynamic and nicely achieved. Combat simply bases itself around the player utilising two main buttons. Though that may seem quite simplistic at first, as you free your various Straw Hat Pirate comrades throughout the game, you'll be able to play as them during combat. Every character feels and plays utterly different, whether it's using Roronoa Zoro's samurai sword to slice through foes, Usopp's catapult to snipe at enemies or Brooks rather large walking stick, Unlimited World Red is deceptively varied and incredibly in-depth.

Taking a break from the main quest, players can also enjoy Battle Coliseum mode, which essentially pits Luffy and his mates against a flurry of various enemies. Packed with challenges in the form of Duel, Scramble, Battle Royal, Boss Rush and Special Match, and with the chance to take on Doflamingo at the end, this mode will take some time to complete, especially if you play it with all the additional characters at hand.


Visually, Unlimited World Red is absolutely beautiful too. While some reviewers have pointed out some of its visual limitations, I thought it was nice to see a game that doesn't consist of dark, gritty and, frankly, bland visuals. Unlimited World Red is loud, colourful and truly stunning eye candy. From character and level designs to the stunning visuals seen throughout combat, Unlimited World Red isn't afraid to replicate the look and feel of the manga and anime. Playing it kind of brought me back to my days of enjoying the likes of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon; simple, perfect, colourful and cosy gameplay. Yeah, I'm lame, but sometimes you can't beat that cosy feeling from a game, and Unlimited World Red has it by the bucket load.

One Piece: Unlimited World Red sets sails for greatness and gets a 5/5.

[★★★★★]

Denis Murphy


One Piece: Unlimited World Red at CeX



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