One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 is a beat 'em up on a gigantic scale that puts you in control of a gang of misfits known as the Straw Hat Pirates. Initially playing as a boy called Luffy, who has the power to stretch his limbs over incredible distances, or even turn his hands into cannonballs in order to fling at his enemies, the game opens as your crew fall under the control of a mysterious gas - and it's up to you to scour the world and break the trance to rescue them. And yes, it's every bit as barmy as it sounds.
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Based on the popular animé/manga One Piece, the game's divided up into missions, which plonk you onto a battlefield opposite several thousand opposing troops. Hammering buttons to make use of your incredible powers, it's up to you to smash your way through the lines of opposing troops, taking control of strongholds along the way in order to stop the flow of enemies, as you make your way towards the enemy HQ. With a few specific goals to complete in each mission, whether it's hunting for an item in a misty forest, or defeating a certain captain on the battlefield who's been causing trouble, there's a small helping of strategy to go with the all out action - but luckily, you can have a second person play along in split-screen to help keep an eye on things and lighten your load.
In terms of things newer players will struggle with, they're really few and far between - the majority of the gameplay is spent mashing button to defeat hundreds or thousands of enemies, with the key to success being to attack your enemies in the right place. Concentrate on the strongholds, and take them over, and you'll drastically weaken their numbers. However, it is a bit awkward to tell where you're meant to be going next at times, thanks to the somewhat awkward tendency of the mission critical messages to pop up in the corner of the screen and promptly disappear without you noticing them, but things are mostly straightforward enough - so long as you can multi-task. With bases to defend, enemies to attack, and objectives to complete, you'll need to be able to keep an eye on a lot of things if you want to win, which can be a real challenge in the heat of battle. With no English voices (it's all in Japanese), a strong reading ability is a requirement, as it's the only way you'll learn what to do in a mission.
Although most of the game is spent beating people up, there's little in the way of violence to talk about here - although you'll be hitting people with a wide range of weaponry, there are no realistic impacts - swords don't cut through clothes or skin - and there's also no blood, guts, or gore.
What there is, however, is the occasional swearing, with the cute Chopper being the worst offender, sometimes coming out with the odd, seemingly inappropriate utterance of "b*stard" in the heat of a battle. Other than that, the only other thing parents may want to know about is some sexualised characters, with the ginger Nami being in possession of an impossibly sized chest, that the camera sometimes sneaks a quick shot in of during cutscenes.
Format Reviewed: Playstation 3