Britain has been hit with a heat wave, but that isn’t why I’ve been constantly waking up during the night in a cold sweat, no, this is due to the fact KOEI has been released yet another Dynasty Warriors title.
I had the ‘privilege’ of reviewing KOEI’s last outing with Dynasty Warriors 6 early last year, which didn’t really have any improvements over it counterparts, if anything it was a step down from one of my favourites in the franchise Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires. So when KOEI announced Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires I was ready for the challenge and very excited at the newer and fresher approach. So, after stocking up on headache tablets from my local supermarket it was time to experience some hack-n-slashing in all of its repetitive glory.
Any fans of the series will know that Dynasty Warriors is based upon the famous book ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’ written by Luo Guanzhon. This book sees warriors fight for the unification of the land, which finally was established in the year 280.
Right from the outset you’ll notice that KOEI have spent a little more time on making the menu a lot cleaner, fresher and more oriental with its choice of music. This is all lost when you click Story Mode and you are launched into an age old formula which hasn’t changed since Dynasty Warriors was first launched back in 1997, with Dynasty Warriors: Sangokumuso. With this being said there is obviously something that KOEI are doing right to be able to afford to churn out title after title, and who am I to say that there isn’t a niche market for such a title. With a collection of over 20 titles and a huge array of Spin Offs from Samurai Warriors and Warriors Orochi (cries) it would appear that Dynasty Warriors isn’t going away, no matter how much critics bash it.
Picking up a title that boosts vast landscapes, incredible on-screen enemies in their thousands and fully destructible guard huts you’d expect this to have an almost smooth frame-rate, but unfortunately killing thousands of the same generic enemies over and over is not as fluid as one would have liked. Constant slow-downs make combinations tricky, fast paced horse sequences a pain in the rear and finding your character amongst the look-a-likes a massive inconvenience. Hopefully a patch will be released soon to address all the above issues, which hopefully will make the title worth its £24.99 price tag.
An awesome new edition to the franchise is the option of being a Mercenary, where you can form or break alliances and gain the trust of an emperor, who will then recruit you to run his armies. You can also become an Officer where you’ll challenge your king for your rightful place as Emperor. While this is a cool feature the combat is sadly still the same dull, boring and overall lacklustre experience which one does not want to replay time and time again. Hopefully this will be an improved feature in a new Dynasty Warriors game.
If choosing a pre-set character isn’t your type of thing, then you can create your own warrior to fight among the hordes. While it’s not that expansive you can edit his or hers weapons, choosing from Bows and Arrows, Swords, Ball and Chains, Nun-Chucks and a lot more. While all of the edits are taken from pre-set characters, the least this does give the game is a more personal touch.
Empires has always been about giving the gamer a chance to actually change the tide of the war by implementing a strategic plan before commencing in battle. In DW6:E this comes in the form of a card system, which will allow you to choose from plenty of options to make sure the battlefield favour you and not your enemies. You’ll be able to select from increasing your attack abilities during that month’s combat, replenishing your defences and building bigger and stronger alliances. These all don’t really seem to do that much, but it’s fun picking them and it does break away from the mundane combat mechanics and allows you to run your empire how an emperor should, from the front.
The visual presentation in Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires hasn’t changed a lot since its PlayStation 2 days besides having a high-definition finish. Whoop-de-doo. Characters still have no emotion in cut-scenes and move like puppets as they swing with all their might to dismember their enemies and create a unified land. This is truly a shame, if the developers could just spend as much time as they do on their opening CGI trailers this game could be something very, very special.
Where there’s graphics there is sound, and in Dynasty Warriors both are a let down. DW6:E does feature over 150 musical scores from previous titles, which you can select the BGM (Background Music) before taking to the field but, the music doesn’t quite fit the setting and you more often than not change to your own music to drown out the 21st century oriental techno music. Music isn’t the only problem either; sound effects never really bring anything to the game. So much could be done to really make DW6:E a believable and exciting game but this doesn’t look like it’ll ever be the case.
The Voice acting has always been terrible, and this latest version is no different, warriors still speak like their reading from a script and when threatened during combat don’t really do it with any conviction, ‘I’m going to kill you’ Are you? Are you really? While this isn’t the biggest issue and one that you can get over, it just feels that the developers aren’t spending enough time on creating a top notch next-generation game, but a quick buck from loyal fans who believe this is the title that really makes a name for the franchise. (Shame on you KOEI)
The Achievements in Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires isn’t that difficult to achieve, especially if you have patience in abundance and immunity to punching walls. A lot of the achievements range from completing a battle using every main character to completing a whole mission such as the Yellow Turban segment which can take some time. With enough dedication and time you’ll certainly achieve the maximum 1,000GS.
In conclusion, what makes a game great is the ability to deceive gamers in to believing in an alternate reality by creating immense visuals, believable sounds and a story that keeps you engrossed from start to finish, unfortunately Dynasty Warriors doesn’t do this. I feel that we are going to finally see what we’ve always wanted to see soon, until then, stay clear of this reincarnation and wait for what we hope will redefine the series and truly make a name for itself, possibly in Dynasty Warriors 7.