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Weskalia's Dynasty Warriors Game Review

Dynasty Warriors Dynasty Warriors Screenshot Uh oh, Sima Yi has the look again! Dynasty Warriors Screenshot Are you guys ready for Gan Ning? Dynasty Warriors Screenshot The pen is always mightier than the sword. Dynasty Warriors Screenshot Leaders of the Three Kingdoms.

Dynasty Warriors game Review

Story & Playability

When it comes to button-smashing, hack and slash, few franchise have anything of Tecmo Koei's Romance of the Three Kingdoms-based Dynasty Warriors. First introduced back in 1997 on the PlayStation, the original Dynasty Warriors game was actually a fighting game that would be unrecognizable by fans today. Since then, the franchise changed to hack and slash genre, and is adored in both Japan and in the west. Not so long ago, when hitting the new game system, the previous DW6 turned out to be mediocre, not as long and intensely addicting like its predecessors. But there's hope in the newest title Dynasty Warriors 7.

Developed by the battle experts at Omega Force, this seventh installment returns to the blazing battlefields of ancient China with plenty of gusto. There are many new characters, the story mode allows more freedom, and the gameplay returns to a more liberal combo system instead of the "renbu" power meter last seen in DW6. Those may not be drastic changes, but they're likely important ones for anybody still paying attention to Dynasty Warriors.

Dynasty Warriors is known for its limitation when dealing with Romance of the Three Kingdoms's massive saga. Its primary Story Mode charts various historical figures, taking control of the characters in their perspective stories and engaging in a series of branching battles that chronicle the turmoil that engulfed China during downfall of the Han until the early Three Kingdoms Era. Most gamers would whine about the repeated one-character story, and they never venture further into the later era. Fortunately, DW7's Story Mode brings back the old campaign that was introduced in DW4; split into four different factions - Wei, Wu, Shu and the new-found kingdom Jin - you will play as different characters as you choose other stages, thus seeing the overall kingdom stories from different character perspectives. In terms of new features, gamers will be happy to know that the storyline will surpass 234's Battle of Wuzhang Plains and ends in Jin's unification of China.

The tone and storytelling quality vary more significantly in each factions. The Wei's story, which focuses on Cao Cao who rises to take control of central China, features the most villainous force of the Three Kingdoms in a story of loyalty, redemption and consequence which is almost entirely avoid of conflict and crisis. As a result it raises questions about whether he is anti-villain or not, painting him a newer but deeper than his original counterpart and other warlords. The Shu's story, contrarily, is the most easygoing, as most of its factors have been presented in the previous entries. Credit goes to Liu Bei's dream to create a land of benevolence; he comes far as one of the most classical good guy type, yet he changes his view only to realize that doing so would turn him into the enemies he's fighting against. His strategists Zhuge Liang and Jiang Wei adhere his ideas in their own ways, and give more entertaining than the supporting strategists of any of the leading forces. The problem with the blandness seen in DW6, however, continues – but this time it is only a big problem in Wu's story. Following the accomplishment of his family and generals, Sun Quan must learn to prove himself a worthy leader while making Wu the strongest of the three, the pressure makes him the plainest and most boring of the leading characters. It's also the least to follow the novel entirely, though it also has the most pronounced fanservice.

The Jin's story and final saga is the best of the lot, however. Sima Yi has been Wei's prominent strategist pre-DW7 until now, he became leader of his own faction, and while he has always consolidated his rule, they would eventually be passed on to his sons, Shi and Zhao. As a new character, Shi is an interesting character, though he has given the impression of a talented, cold, ambitious ruler, he has occasionally shows faint hints of childish acts. Composed with late Wei generals, Jin's story tells how the dynasty was found by the Sima clan, which the foundation was laid by Sima Yi, Shi eventually maintains the rule, and unification comes in Zhao's time. In some respects, he harkens back to Wu's Sun Quan, but rather than being happy-go-lucky like he was featured, he projects a more forceful and adaptive take on the character entirely to achieve his goal. That comes out fully in the ending, making Jin the most intriguing of all four stories.

The gameplay in DW7 will be familiar to anyone who's played the previous entries in the series. Yet despite these simple premises, the games always find a way to transcend their humble beginnings and become so much more than a typical hacker. The improvement itself is really quite simple, Koei has brought back the good old Charge system with new movesets; many elements from DW6 such as swimming or catapult remain the same. To make things even more enticing, each character can perform a special EX attack and two distinctive Musou attacks that look really cool. (And that means enemies will put more of a fight than before.) With the features comes the dual-wielding system, characters can change their based weapon to another with this, though that will also mean EVERYONE can be a gamebreaker using Lu Bu's moveset. On the down side, not much rooms have been improved to make a character original, every weapon shares the exact same moves, but their original their EX and Musou attacks show more progress and clone doesn't mean that is necessarily a BAD THING. Replacing Free Mode is Conquest Mode, which allows player to roam freely in China, you can expect to find hundred of nearly identical scenarios here. Shortly after is the release of its expansion, Xtreme Legend, featuring three more Wei characters, a few updates and stages before charging into battle against hordes of soldiers. And that's Xtreme enough.

Rating: 8

Graphics

It's safe to assume that Koei has pushed the Dynasty Warriors graphical engine about as far as it can go, but that's not the biggest issue with its aesthetics. Already impressing audiences with the product they created in DW6, the seventh installment has fixed a lot of the problems associated with that game's already marvelous presentation. For starters, the framerate is much better: with smoother animation and better-rendered elemental attacks that cover only the character frame instead the surrounding area. Character models are remarkably beautiful, with a nice amount of detail and smooth graphic, and the background stages are less sparse, now consisting of mores planes and basic buildings.

Character designs of Koei have always been one of the best, and that remain with DW7. Strong heroes clad in armors is always a stunning sight, Koei has even put more fanservice with the new female characters, with each has a boob lift (and they don't hesitate to show 'em off). Not that that's a bad thing necessarily, as Dynasty Warriors had some admirable textures and architecture. As an added bonus, you can download many extra costumes and weapons for every character (some of which are really bizarre).

Rating: 8

Sound

Koei has always been known for inviting their "trademark" seiyuu to perform the voice acting, and most of the cast from old to new have one seiyuu to voice at least two characters. Among the new cast, Okiayu Ryoutarou in his third time working with Koei, gives Sima Shi a softer tone than his Samurai Warriors counterpart, though Lian Shi is more mature than whom her seiyuu previously performed and Nonaka Ai's Bao Sanniang is catty and funny to hear. Fortunately, DW7's got some of a better dub than its sibling SW and the old ones. For starters, Xing Cai is no longer chessy, and is given a more appropriate voice, while Gan Ning's remains funnily like in DW6, it's strange but sounds better than his rude, arrogant tone before. One would look away to complain about the lack of moe and tsunderish in the likes of Wang Yuanji though.

The sound effects are serviceable, retaining its traditional mixture of traditional Chinese instrumentals, hard rock and heavy metal. With the appearance of the Jin Kingdom, every faction is given their own theme. There's also a theme songs CD release for main heroes of four factions and Lu Bu, including interesting interview with their seiyuu.

Rating: 8

Fun

All this criticism of DW7's sameness is not to say that it's a bad game. Quite the contrary. The gameplay is solid, the graphics are fine by PS3/Xbox360 standards, and the storyline is well written. However, even calling DW7 an evolutionary game is a bit of a stretch - the core gameplay is basically identical to that of its predecessors, and though the menus and artwork have changed and a few new features have been added, the casual gamer would likely be hard-pressed to guess which Dynasty Warriors game this is after observing a random battle scene for a couple of minutes. Serious Dynasty Warriors fans will surely eat up the new features, and to someone who is relatively new to the franchise, or at least not cynical about its content, might look at this game premise as an intriguing opportunity to start with. However, less avid fans of the series looking for a fresh new gameplay experience need not apply. Faint comment as this is, DW7 is one of the best games to come from Dynasty Warriors, and that's not something any fan should ignore.
____________________________________________________________________________________________
Story: 6 (Shu)/8 (Wei)/5 (Wu)/8 (Jin)
Characters: 8
Gameplay: 7
Art: 9
Graphic: 8
Voice: 8 (sub)/8 (dub)
Music: 9
Overall: 8.25

Good:
+Plenty of items, anime-like character progression, a ton of hidden personalities, and more stages than you can shake a stick at.
+It should definitely hold you over until the next one!
Bad:
+Where the hell is the Xbox version?
+Still pretty repeated.
+Wu's story is tedious.

Rating: 9

Final Verdict

8.33 (good)

Reviewed by Weskalia, Feb 24, 2012

Comments

  1. Miss-Mess Feb 27, 2012

    Thanks for the information!
    Love this game :3

  2. SnickerdoodleNinja Retired Moderator Mar 07, 2012

    I have to say that I agree that this was overall a really good step for Dynasty Warriors. I skipped over 6, but from what I hear 6 was incredibly laggy and I was unhappy with several of the character design and weapon changes. (Sun Shang Xiang using a bow and wearing a frilly skirt? Total departure from her trademark personality. ;_;) Anyways, I'm loving 7, though so far I've mostly played Conquest Mode. The graphics and game play are incredibly smooth and the new characters seem great. AND BEING ABLE TO USE ALMOST ANY WEAPON WITH ANY CHARACTER (while still having their original as an option) ROCKS MY SOCKS. *ahem* My one complaint thus far, however, has been that story mode seems to no longer be two-player. Since I mostly play this game with my sister, that's a big setback for us. That said, one day I'm hoping to play Story Mode anyways.

    Very well done Wes! Sorry I couldn't get here sooner, but none the less very job covering the game for what it is. :)

    And LOL, that video...

  3. CyanideBlizzard Retired Moderator Apr 04, 2012

    I remember playing several of the PS2 versions, but honestly I've never been a terribly large fan. While I greatly enjoy having a hero go out onto a map and just annihilate everything in sight, I just never became addicted to the games as others did. Nonetheless, there's definitely a brilliance behind them and you did a fantastic job on showing us, the reader, why.

    As per always, you really do a fantastic job covering the product. Even being a fan of the series, you do a great job balancing the strengths and weaknesses and lay them all to bare. A lot of people have issues keeping some bias away, myself included, and you did a great job keeping the balance.

    I also have to admit, especially with the video at the end, you do a great job of bringing it a bit of outside humor to cap off the review. It's always nice to offer something a bit extra for the reader if you can, and this helps close things up nicely and more importantly gives us something to laugh at as well. Absolutely hilarious!

    Definitely a very solid review, and very well done Wes!

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