While I don't entirely agree with Brad's review of Onimusha, I'm not exactly going to dispute much of it either. His points are for the most part valid. I just wasn't as annoyed or bored by Onimusha as he was (or at least not as quickly as he was).

The main thing that I liked about Onimusha was the sense of control and action, which is something that isn't usually characteristic of the survival horror genre. Like Vampire Hunter D for the PlayStation, Onimusha tries to put a different spin on the genre by focusing on hand-to-hand swordplay over gunplay. Both games demonstrated a good potential and presented some interesting possibilities. Onimusha one-ups Vampire Hunter D by taking the concept further and refining the control scheme with superior results. For once, this is a survival horror game that controls as good as it looks.

The other thing that I liked about Onimusha was the feudal Japanese setting. Like Brad mentions in his review, "The samurai theme isn't one, which has been especially overdone lately" and I appreciated the change of locale from the usual realistic-looking urban environments. While all the Resident Evil titles try to convey a sense of fear and desolation in its scenery, Onimusha goes for more of a Zen mystical and sublime natural feel. A horseback ride behind a dramatic sunset or rooftop showdown by glistening moonlight is a couple of effective examples of how Onimusha conveys its ambience differently.

Positives aside, Brad is still most correct in characterizing Onimusha as another attempt at crafting a "slimmer, faster and sexier" survival horror title with mixed results. It's almost as if the developers are hoping that if they are able to move the player through the game briskly enough, no one would notice the same old problems that have gone uncorrected after countless iterations. Tired non-sensible gameplay and cliché story conventions still prominently rear their ugly heads. To its credit, Capcom has finally got the quality of voice-acting up to barely passable (although the script is still terrible) and had enough sense to include the option of restoring the original Japanese vocal dialogue with English subtitles in keeping with the exotic foreign content.

My final conclusion is that fans of survival horror could do much worse. I know that's not exactly a ringing endorsement, but that's the best I can say about a title that plays pretty good, clearly underachieves in scope and sticks to what works as if innovation were a crime. Rating: 7 out of 10

Chi Kong Lui

Chi Kong Lui

In the 1980s, Chi grew up in small town on the outskirts of New York City called Jackson Heights. Latino actor, John Leguizamo referred to the town as the "melting pot of the world," and while living there, Chi was exposed to many diverse cultures, as well as a bevy of arcade classics such as Pac-Man, Space Ace, Space Harrier and Double Dragon. Chi's love of videogames only seemed to grow as his parents finally caved and bought him an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (after being the only kid in the block without one). In the 1990s, Chi finagled his way into the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts.

Somewhere between all the gaming, Chi some how managed to finish high school and get into the New York Institute of Technology. At the same time, Chi also interned at Virtual Frontiers, an Internet software consultancy where he learned the ways of HTML. Soon after acquiring his BFA, Chi went on to become the lead Web designer of the Anti-Defamation League. During his tenure there, Chi was instrumental in redesigning and relaunching the non-profit organization's Web site.

Today, Chi is the webmaster of the American Red Cross in Greater New York and somehow managed to work through the tragic events of September 11th without losing his sanity. Chi considers GameCritics.com his life's work and continues to be amazed that the web site is still standing after the recent dotcom fallout. It is his dream that GameCritics.com will accomplish two things: 1) Redefine the grammar of videogames much the same way French film critic Andre Bazin did for the art of cinema and 2) bring game criticism to the forefront of mainstream culture much the same way Siskel & Ebert did for film criticism.
Chi Kong Lui
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