If You Ever Wanted To Try A Dynasty Warriors Game, This Is It
You may or may not have played a Dynasty Warriors game by now. If you have you would know the basics of what to expect from this latest installment to the series. If you haven’t, well there really isn’t a real draw for the undecided that sit on the fence. However, I will say this much, if you ever wanted to try your hand at a Dynasty Warriors game, this is the one to do it. This game is the most polished and improved upon game in the series. Even with its lack of the traditional storylines, which is really no big deal, this game delivers on all the faithful fronts, and even goes above and beyond in most cases.
The game play is the same basic mechanic as in previous releases in that you have your same hack-n-slash combat through droves of enemies to fulfill certain objectives with a not too shabby 77 different characters to choose from. The three-faction mechanic has survived its incarnation from the sub par Dynasty Warriors: Gundam (Sub par? read my review to find out why!) to make a comeback. You use the same controls, for the most part, as you have come to know and love. With the inclusion of the select button calling your horse (Finally!) The changes are subtle but noticeable, especially the new placement of the zoomed version of the mini map, which has moved down to R3. This is because R2 and L2 have been reserved for switching characters.
Switching characters? What is all that nonsense about? No, its true, for the first time in the series, you are able to bring with you three main officers into battle. This is a very interesting and no doubt most dramatic, new twist on the overall way the game is played. It can either be good or bad depending on your taste. The good thing is that you no longer have to choose between your favorites to bring to the fight. They stay out of action until you call upon them via L2 or R2. You can “tag” them in at any point during the mission, unless you are taking damage. The transition between characters is seamless for the most part, pausing only for an instant, so you do have to be somewhat careful when you make the change. The drawback to this new dynamic is that some people may find it cheapens the action. This revamped game play aspect allows the two characters that are not active to “rest” and recover their health and musou gauges. Therefore, you would have to be pretty awful at mashing buttons to fail any of the missions by dying because you can always just run a short distance and switch up your dude, and keep right on chugging. Either way you look at it, it is a neat idea and time will tell if they decide to keep it or trash it.
Another new facet is the weapon fusion system. You no longer have to work and work to get a decent weapon, you can merely take a bunch of crappy ones you gain in the early stages and fuse them together increasing your weapon’s overall attack and skill. The skills have a small leveling system built in so two or three of the same skill only takes up one slot while still adding the two or three multiplier. There are caps on the extent of the fusion, which is good or this would really cripple the game’s difficulty. The weapons themselves have slots that you can put attributes into, for example what was once an orb system of elemental items that deal their respective damage is now an attribute you can fuse into your weapon. Other attributes are also what you might expect enhancing range, agility, and other skills as well as the inclusion of some new ones. The whole process is pretty extensive and well planned, though once again some may find that it decreases the overall difficulty of the game.
Other enhancements include replacing the item system with an ability system. Characters perform certain side objectives during a mission and are awarded with a new ability. Your team of three all benefit from the abilities that you equip. These are the basic enhancements items that you are used to such as strength boost or increased life gauge even starting the campaign on a horse. These abilities also have an underlying leveling system, the higher the level, the greater the effect as you might expect.
The main leveling system for the characters themselves is pretty straightforward. As you go through the level killing foes and vanquishing generals, you gain experience. When you reach a certain number, you level up. The experience is gained in real time so as you play through a bout, you will periodically level up. This system is capped at the appropriate 100 as apposed to the short 10 we have seen before. It is also worth mentioning that at the end of a mission, depending on how well you do at your hacking and slashing, you gain a number of growth points. These are what you have to use in order to fuse your weapons. You may also choose spend these as free experience on any character in the game. So for example you gain 8000 growth points, you can put that all towards making a stronger weapon or, dropping it all on a general that you have yet to use. You can also divide it up in some combination of the two, very handy when you are so close to gaining a level and just need that extra little push. This adds a nice way to maintain a good balance between the strength of all the characters. Once again however, this can take away from the action. Just the fact that you can replay the same levels over and over again with an incredibly strong general and blow all the growth points onto someone you haven’t used can feel pretty cheap when it comes down to it.
The two main modes you would expect make their reappearance, but the two player mini games were cut. Story mode is very nicely diverse and features a large multitude of levels to choose from. Free mode is good when you just want to throw some people together and jump right into the thick of it. Everything that you do in free mode is saved so this is a good way to train for those tougher missions. Story mode and free mode are both two-player coop compatible, so you can play with a friend through the whole thing. During a coop game, both players play as the three generals that were picked at the start of the mission, so you can literally be the same person at the same time, another first for the series. Take it for what you will.
Even accounting for all the streamlining that has been done, and the ease of the game it is still the best yet. I gave it a 9 out of 10, which puts it at “Above and Beyond” on my scale. If you are iffy on the whole franchise but want to give it a fair shot, this is the one to do it with. Even if you aren’t persuaded to join the movement, you will know that Koei gave it their best chance at swaying you. With the all the improvements this game really delivers some solid entertainment. And if anything else, it is probably the most fun you can get from a new release console game for the price, which is only 39.99 instead of the traditional 49.99.