As soon as we start the game we're greeted by an opening sequence with fantastic action and music. It makes for a good first impression. We press start and instantly we're thrust into the story and action of Arslan: Warriors of Legend, a Musou style game that is based off the manga and anime, The Heroic Legend of Arslan. The anime itself is actually based on the Persian epic, Amir Arsalan. This isn't the first time developer Omega Force has done a third party collaboration. They have also developed titles such as Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage, One Piece: Pirate Warriors and Dynasty Warriors: Gundam and most recently Dragon Quest Heroes. Is Arslan: Warriors of Legend their best collaborative to date?
Like most of the collaborations that they've done before, the presentation does the chosen brand justice. With Arslan the art style is beautiful and very pleasing to the eye, it captures the anime look very well. The colours are great and vibrant and the character models are carefully designed and well animated. When you play as a character the animations look great; they're very fluid. The cut scenes, like the gameplay, are nicely animated. It all looks very nice.
As we mentioned before, story of the game follows the anime of The Heroic Legend of Arslan. Arslan, the Crown Prince of Pars, learns how to become not just a better person but also how to be the ruler of a kingdom. There is a common vibe across all the kingdoms/ factions; they all have slaves and want to expand territory through warfare. You start off playing as Arslan who is taking part in his first, full scale battle. At the beginning of the game he's not the ruler of Pars, his father King Andragoras III is. Without ruining too much of the story, the battle doesn't go well and thus kicks off the game. The story is engaging and makes you want to find out what happens next, and it will last you between 10-15 hours, depending on the difficulty you are playing on.
Throughout the story you will come across many characters, some are helpful and will become your companions, quite a few will provide more of a narrative role, and there are your normal officers who just fight and try to defeat Arslan and his friends. The character that you will see more than anyone is Daryun, a renowned soldier in the kingdom of Pars who has sworn his life to protect Arslan. You get to meet many companions throughout the game and you get to play as most of them, but the characters you'll be playing the most are Arslan and Daryun. Those two are perhaps the best of the bunch. The connection and communication between them and is very much evident throughout the story and they look out for each other.
We didn't know that much about the Arslan series prior to playing the game, but now we do. Warriors of Legend is a good entry point for people who want to get into the series. It's rich and if at any time you feel overwhelmed by the lore, then you can look at the encyclopaedia which provides plentiful amounts information about the background, the characters, and even offers a chronology and even terminology (as you play through the story, you will hear a lot of terminology).
The gameplay is pretty much straight out of Dynasty Warriors, which is the norm for Omega Force's third-party collaborations. We would've liked if it could've offerd more of a unique spin on the core gameplay, as they did in Dragon Quest Heroes. One thing that we did like was the inclusion of 'Mardan Rush'. Mardan Rush is a gameplay mechanic that you will see on most, if not all, of the battlefields. You'll know when they can be implemented when a blue circle appears that looks almost like a tornado. There are different types of the Mardan Rush, and one of them is a cavalry charge. This mechanic looks very stylish and you can chain together some insane combos. Some Mardan Rushes are there just to thin the enemy ranks, whereas others can have an effect on the battle and change the battlefield and effectively turn the tide of battle.
The music is pretty good, it fits the game very well and doesn't feel out of place. The music used in the opening sequence is fantastic and sets a suitably epic scene. Sometimes you will hear certain pieces of music more often than others, but nothing to the extent as the old Dynasty Warriors games. Technically it is sound, some Musou games do suffer some small drops in frame-rate, Arslan thankfully, doesn't suffer from any noticeable dips.
There are many positives in the game, however there are also a few negatives. The audio tends to be pretty good but one thing we picked up on is that a lot of sound effects are borrowed from Dynasty Warriors. A couple of examples: the effects for picking up an item and the cheering when you defeat an enemy officer, are effectively brought over from the Dynasty Warriors series.
Whilst the story is engaging and the lore is deep, the amount of lore and terminology that's dropped on you can feel overwhelming at times. If you're not a fan of the Arslan series the massive information dump may feel somewhat suffocating. If they didn't add the encyclopaedia then this would have be an even bigger negative.
Perhaps the biggest negative of all is the lack of modes. There is the story and free mode, and then there's the online versions of these, but that's it. The lack of content compared to what we've seen in the Dynasty Warriors series is almost embarrassing. The array of modes in that series adds heaps of longevity and replayability, but in Arslan once you've done the story all that is left to do is play the same missions again in free mode, albeit with more freedom, and there are a few extra missions. The only other thing that adds any form of longevity are collectibles, but collecting them can be quite tedious and definitely won't be for everybody.
Arslan: Warriors of Legend is a valiant effort to do the franchise justice. The story mode is fun and engrossing and will hook fans and newbies to Arslan. It's fun to play, it's technically sound, and the music is great. Yet the game is mired by a lack of modes and a lack of replayability, and assets that have clearly been borrowed from the Dynasty Warriors series. However, despite those flaws any Warriors fan who wants their next fix, this should sate their thirst for the next Musou title.