This article was originally published at Another-Castle.com
An un-acquired taste.
Dynasty Warriors 8
Platform: PS3 (Reviewed), Xbox 360
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Dynasty Warriors has been around so long that it is hard to believe it began as a spin-off. The original Dynasty Warriors was a 3D fighter based on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms strategy series which is based on the Chinese ‘Three Kingdoms” era between 220 and 280AD. However it was Dynasty Warriors 2 that really began the series we know today in switching from a 3D fighter to a dynamic action game. Dynasty Warriors 8 continues the series this way.
I have never played a Dynasty Warriors game and considering this is the eighth entry without including the legion of related spin-offs, this is more than a little relevant. I won’t be much use to the players who already experienced previous games but then again, you probably already bought it, right? Unfortunately, my only knowledge of the series comes from the jokes about its repetition which I can remember dating back to the fourth entry in the series. Despite reading up on the games and the changes throughout, I will be unable to make informed comparisons to previous games in the series.
That all said, how is the game?
My first impressions of Dynasty Warriors 8 were very positive. It is unapologetically arcade style with a rocking soundtrack, instant action and gratification. The game is large and loud, the gameplay is accessible but obviously has a lot more depth than you’d initially expect. You control one of many heroic characters with enough hit power to literally smack grown men meters into the air and sometimes keep them there. The vast majority of the soldiers you fight are weak with only a hit or two required to defeat them. The challenge comes against other heroic fighters who lead these men. The action is fast-paced and dynamic with battles raging all over the map at all times. Players must keep each battle going in their favour by controlling points of the map, helping allies but mainly by killings lots and lots of bad guys.
The game includes a Story, Free Play and the new Ambition mode. All can be played online or with a second player locally. Story mode is arguably where most will start and certainly where I did. The story mode gives you a bit more reason to battle but the plot itself is advanced with hammy dialogue and average voice acting but is entertaining enough to be engaging. Ambition Mode starts you with a small kingdom which you then have to build up. However all the modes, despite their differences mostly come down to fighting battles – a lot!
This is where Dynasty Warriors 8 (and I can only assume its predecessors) will divide players. You will either love fighting battles over and over again or you will not. If this game follows as its predecessors do, then I completely understand why it is often described as repetitive. And there is an awful lot of repetitive gameplay required to get through the game and unlock the many characters and battlefields. To be clear, I’m not necessarily use repetitive in the negative sense either. Much of the enjoyment stretching from gaming’s beginnings has been based on doing something over and over again; trying to get further and further or scoring higher and higher. And so it is with Dynasty Warriors 8. For many it will be fun play battles over and over again, and in doing this they will discover far more nuance than someone (like me), who could only scratch the surface.
That said, there are a few issues I found with the game that do hurt it. The menu text is huge and very simple to navigate but getting back to the menu can occasionally be a problem. The game doesn’t give you the option to quit before moving onto the next scenario so you often have to start first and then quit after. The game autosaves but you are also able to save during the battle at any time. The problem with this is that one save applies to all game modes and stopping a story battle to play free play online with a friend means this save will be overridden and you will have to begin the scenario again. This is especially annoying given that battles can easily go on for thirty minutes or more.
The gameplay is usually quite smooth and responsive but there are issues with enemies popping in suddenly and often standing around just waiting to be hit. There is an incredible amount going on at once and good portion of the fun is had in wiping out hordes of enemies but given this is the eighth main entry, problems like this shouldn’t really exist.
Dynasty Warriors 8 is reepetitive, relentless and ridiculous. Where or not you consider these adjectives to be strikes against the game depends very much on the kind of games you like. I don’t like games like this but I can appreciate that many will find the fast paced arcade action This is a game that achieves exactly what it set out to do, but that goal was to be a repetitive button masher. And one that obviously has a consistent audience. It is always important to remember that the score a game receives is meaningless without the text accompanying it, and I feel it is especially so in this case. This game may be for you, but it is certainly not for me.