The generic marketing survey that falls out of the Samurai Warriors 2 manual asks 'what motivated you to purchase this game?' It goes on to offer a selection of choices, but the one that stands out is: 'Liked the original'. Yep, the marketing survey simply assumes that you've bought a sequel. Which is sort of appropriate. You only have to type 'warriors' up in the top left corner to see a) how many of these battlefield epics Koei has already brought out, and b) how each successive instalment seems to sap a little bit of each reviewer's generosity.
The problem Koei has with (western) reviewers is that, to the untrained eye, each new instalment seems to add so little to what's gone before. Sure, Samurai Warriors 2 has (according to the blurb) 26 playable characters, a bunch of different play modes, an insane amount of enemy combatants, castles, combos, crazy voice-acting, amazing cut-scenes, special moves, sidekicks, spangly graphics, and a palm-moistening imperative to multitask amid the chaos of battle. But then so have pretty much all the other games in the series. And so reviews tend to follow an equally consistent formula: talk about how many features the game packs in, before pointing out that it's basically the same as the last game, and after a while all the battlefield-button-bashing gets a bit boring.
That's missing the point. It's a bit like saying that just driving round racetrack after racetrack gets a bit dull, and couldn't they have added something more this time. Or like saying that isn't it a bit old-hat just using the controller to look around and move and shoot, and couldn't they have done something else this time. And so on. Because Samurai Warriors 2, like the other games in the series, isn't really about the sophistication of the third-person combat engine. It's about the ebb and flow of the battlefield, reacting to new events and adjusting to sudden shifts in fortune while simultaneously surrounded by hordes of relentlessly advancing enemy footmen.