One Piece Pirate Warriors 2 review – borked buccaneer is a bottle of glum

Curse you, repetitive strain injuries. My thumbs are shredded to absolute ribbons as a result of pressing triangle roughly 13,973 times during this scurvy third-person scrapper. Despite spectacular moves, stretchy-limbed seamen and alluring eye candy, limited combos and endless, identical cycles of attritional war turn this colourful fighter into a bit of a shipwreck.

One Piece Pirate Warriors 2 PS3 review

Based on a manga series about a dude called Luffy who can Stretch Armstrong his limbs in a jiffy, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 is several tasty nautical treats short of a picnic hamper. Whether it’s a member of your Straw Hat Pirates crew sporting chest globes the size of the Epcot golf ball or a half man/half robot who’s more Optimus Prime than Blackbeard, this is a seriously surreal game.

Underneath its bizarre cartoon stylings, though, lies an experience very much rooted in the familiar. Tasked with capturing enemy territory while fighting off dozens upon dozens of on-screen dastards, this is Dynasty Warriors with a patch over one peeper and squawking Macaw on its shoulder.

Visually, combos are much more interesting than the feudal Chinese series – just wait until you see a bikini-clad pirate catapult 20 men into the air with an impromptu hurricane. Yet get past the superficial gloss and combat quickly feels cripplingly limited.

Freezing enemies with R1 before unleashing a devastating finisher on circle to wash away countless evildoers in a tsunami of manga murder is appealing in the short term. There’s also the new ‘Haki mode’, which enables you to call in support when you’ve filled a gauge, and a higher enemy count than in the original.

But no amount of graphical flair can distract you from the repetitive fisticuffs that never evolve into anything truly reactive or primal. With exquisitely directed cutscenes and some utterly bonkers high-seas antics, One Piece’s vessel is at least brimming with esoteric charm. It’s just a pity that the hugely wearing combat ushers your sanity off the end of the plank in such a hurry.

Beautiful and bizarre, the likeably certifiable antics on show are ultimately undone by a repetitive structure, lack of ideas and undercooked scraps.

Our Score

Score: 5