Way of the Samurai
This game has two sides, the combat and the non-linear story. The story allows the player to make choices and affect what happens, to a degree. The main issue is that the game is very short, and the climactic battles feel as long as the rest of the game up to that point. Even though the game has six different endings, many of them are similar. The difference between normal endings and the best ending are a few seemingly minor choices, which most players probably won't discover without a guide. And if you do use a guide, you could very easily see all the content in the game in just a few hours.
The player can collect swords, and they can be used in a new game if they are kept until the ending (or delivered by the swordsmith). They can also be improved with money. The biggest issue for new players is that swords can break. Once broken, they are useless and cannot be repaired. You can't just reload, as the developers took steps to prevent it: you can only load a game if you choose the "save and quit" option at one of four or five points during the game. If you die, or the power goes out, your swords are gone forever.
It seems that a lot of effort went into the combat system, but you can avoid most of the complexity by staying on easy mode. If you only care about the story, stick to that, and maybe pick up the sequels eventually. If you want a game with a better combat system, I would recommend God Hand, or even Samurai Western.
Fun for the afternoon
This is a good game to play if you find yourself with nothing to do one afternoon. The game is over before you know it. It should only take you about an hour to get through the story. Despite the short amount of time you spend on your first run this game has great replay value. I went through a second and third time to find characters I had never seen, new battles, and new swords to collect. A couple of downers are attributed to the designers apparent push for realism. Saving is not much of an option. You will only get the chance to save maybe twice but if you save you have to exit the game. When you load the saved game the save is erased. If you die then you have to start over from the start. Since the game is so short this really isn't that much of a problem. The second is that you can only carry three swords at a time. There are dozens of different swords to collect but you only add them to your saved profile if you either finish the story with them or if you leave the valley (and effectively end the story short). If you want to try out all the different swords and unlock each swords special moves then you have to play this game dozens of times. For the price of a rental, I feel this was worth the purchase. If you want a hack and slash that offers a lot of replay then this is worth a look.
Better than i thought
This game was way better than i thought. Its actually one of my favorite games on PS2. It has a very good variety of fighting moves so its not like all of the other games where you can only do three different moves. You can even make your own moves. Its pretty awesome. The story line can be very good or just okay. It all depends on you because you decide your own path. If its not as good as you thought it was gonna be thats because thats hpw you made it. I played the game several times trying different things every time so that i could get the most out of the game that i could. Its is pretty challenging and i say that because you sometimes go up against two three and sometimes even four guys at a time. The fighting moves combined with the custom storyline makes it a very great game.