Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce Review
One day I will realise that reviewing Dynasty Warriors games is bad for my health. One day I may get a Dynasty Warriors review code through my letterbox and not have to add playing it to a list of chores. One day I will realise that Dynasty Warriors games are barely ever any good. Until then, my naive self will keep reviewing them as my brain cells slowly die of boredom. I understand that without DW games, Koei would pretty much have nothing to do but who’s buying these games? That is the mystery of our times. Not how to stop global warming or how to create equality amongst everyone but trying to figure out why Dynasty Warriors games are still made.
Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce is the billionth Dynasty Warriors game to be released including the spin-offs, sequels and collectible chocolate boxes. OK, none of that last sentence is true but it may as well be. Let’s just say there have been a lot, and guess what? This one is just like the rest of them! It would probably be more time-saving (for me at least) to point you towards my last DW review because nearly all the same bugs exist, the same fun is kind of there and it looks pretty much the same too.
Strikeforce is set during the Three Kingdoms period of Ancient China. You choose from one of three factions and, from there, choose one of the characters on offer. Each have different stats, weapons and abilities with some characters being more effective than others. You’re then sent off to fight a peasant rebel group known as the Yellow Turbans who, in Ancient Chinese history, believed in Taoism and played an important part in its history. This is all kind of explained through the cut-scenes between some missions but, other than that, the story is displayed in a very simplistic format in the menu system. As such, you don’t really care about what is going on and just fulfil the mission objectives. Because the main missions aren’t always available, there are a variety of side missions there instead, in order to pass the time or to grind your characters level in preparation for a main mission.
One nice addition that doesn’t seem familiar is that of the hub town. Before each mission, you’re placed in a small village with options to upgrade your Chi, which gives you extra skills like a double jump, buy new weapons, upgrade old weapons, making them stronger and more likely to build a large combo, and buy items to help you. The ability to upgrade gives an RPG feel which is greatly welcomed to the series. It’s all reliant on items you pick up on the battlefield so you’re more likely to spend time looking for said items rather than just brushing past as you would’ve done before. However, item drops are randomised so getting the item you want can sometimes be very difficult.
The combat is a simplistic as ever, perhaps even more-so; you have your light attack and heavy attack, performing combos of each. People die, you win. Rinse and repeat until the end of the game. The heavy attack can be charged, widening it’s radius, there’s a dash attack to get out of tricky situations and the ability to slam the ground if you get overwhelmed but the options open to you are not all that exciting as it’s just button mashing; people must be getting tired of this by now. There is a nice addition is the form of Fury attacks; once the Fury bar has been filled by killing enemies you can, essentially, go into a fit of rage which improves your speed, attacks and makes you take less damage, this lasts until the bar runs out. You can also use your bar all at once for a devastating attack. Devastating is probably an exaggeration since, in comparison to normal combos, it does very little extra damage. It sure looks pretty though!
What makes Strikeforce very little fun is that, even with three extra characters to back you up, it makes little difference to the feel of the game. There are officer cards to use which add tactics and strategies to the field but they’re not very noticeable. These three characters can, however, be controlled by three online friends and this raises the fun somewhat. It’s just a shame that local co-op isn’t an option at all.
Strikeforce suffers from some horrible pop-up and I even had a large number of framerate problems which shouldn’t really be an issue considering the power of the current gen consoles. I can understand it on the PSP, where the game originally started, but on an Xbox 360 I’m left wondering if they bothered to fix these issues at all; and it isn’t as if the pop-up is barely there. Barrels will pop-up almost in front of your face. It looks like a PS2 game as well. Colours are bland and uninteresting, enemies all look the same to the point where it’s difficult to actually find the boss character amongst the generic sea of Enemy Character Model #3 and the only thing that stands out are your characters. Animation is pretty poor as well with even your character’s attacks feeling extremely sluggish.
It still shocks me that Dynasty Warriors games are still being made, I’m sure I played Strikeforce a long time ago; Its title was Dynasty Warriors 2. If you really want to play a DW game, buy DW2, you can probably find it for super cheap in a bargain bucket by now. If you’re seriously considering paying over £40 for a game that has barely changed since 2000 then you’re probably better off putting that money towards a psych evaluation.