Review: Once again the heroes of ancient china take up arms.
When I first played a Dynasty Warriors game it was Dynasty Warriors 3 in 2001. Since then there have been seven others not including the ones for portable systems. With a series library that large; you have to wonder why we need so many iterations. The answer (at least this is what I tell myself) seems to be simply because Koei wants to make the perfect game. With each game in the series, comes the removal and addition of features and not to mention the increase of cannon fodder soldiers that can fill up your television screen. Now that we have entered the next generation of hacking-n-slashing with Dynasty Warriors 6, has Koei finally found the perfect balance for the series or can we expect another year of all out Three Kingdoms war?
Like the previous versions of Dynasty Warriors, this one plays the addition-by-subtraction game. For starters, seven characters were cut from the roster, though this really doesn't effect the game that much as they were non-key characters. There is now a roster of 41 characters that are playable. The problem with this is that only a mere 17 of those characters have a Musou (story) mode. This not only significantly hurts the replay value but has actually turned a number of fans away from purchasing the game. Chances are that finding your favorite character has a story mode is slim; however this does raise a question for downloadable content. Is it possible to see additional story modes in the future? For the lack of content in this case, there had better be something coming out.
Also cut is the create-a-character mode but seeing as the last few have been garbage, maybe this isn't a bad thing. Looking for that item screen? Not here. Instead we have a skill tree setup that I actually prefer over the annoying task of collecting random items to raise my characters stats. Now I simply fight battles and use awarded skill points to help bump up my attack rating or learn a new skill altogether.
While your stats may not depend on random items anymore, your horses and weapons do. In what I can only describe as a cheap way to create replay value, Koei has decided to make the acquisition of god-like equipment a venture in randomness. This creates another problem for fans; there is very little reward to playing the game on a higher difficulty. You can max out your character, receive a rare horse, and no longer have need for that super-weapon all on easy mode. The flip side to this is it does give casual players (which seem to be the biggest targets these days) the opportunity to get into the series without having to do much work at all.
What do fans get in return for changes that have possibly tainted their love for the game? Quite a few enhancements to how the game is actually played. Stages now actually feel like large battlefields rather then geographical cages. For the first time in a Dynasty Warriors game I didn't feel cramped up, I had options of where I was going to attack from. I could either ride in and break down the door to a base or get the jump on them by riding up a ridge and leaping into the base taking them by surprise.
Another gameplay feature is the ability to swim and climb. While neither option is in any way innovative, they are enhancements even if they should have been in there all ready. Unfortunately there are no epic ladder battles like there was in Once Upon a Time in China; in fact climbing is pretty dull. You are climbing a ladder all the while you are exposed to enemy forces that include huge rocks and logs being flung at you. Swimming is no better, you swim and that is it. So how exactly are they enhancements? They open up your options toward taking the enemies base.
Perhaps the biggest addition is the ?renbu system?. The renbu system is how you connect your combos. No longer do you press combinations of squares and triangles, now you just press square into infinity. At first this may seem odd and even boring but again this is a change I actually prefer. It allows me more time to focus on watching my character do some pretty neat fighting animations while cutting down endless amounts of cannon fodder soldiers. The triangle button hasn't been entirely rid of however; it still serves as the ?power move? button which is mostly used to break the enemy's guard.
Unfortunately, the fluid fighting animations are hindered by both not-so-impressive graphics and major slow down. While this definitely is the best looking Dynasty Warriors to date, that isn't saying much as Koei still hasn't discovered a way to rid the cut-scenes of constant clipping graphics. To the hardcore player, it is an eyesore to see armor going through a characters body when he moves or even hair that disappears into said armor. We have been in a graphics race for a long time and Koei still has not caught up.