I’ve been playing the Dynasty Warriors games for some time now, as they were an ideal game to play after a long day. A simple premise (take over this castle or what-not), coupled with the ability to take down huge numbers of enemies all on your own, made you feel like Superman. They were also interesting because the characters and events featured in the game are based on a Chinese historical novel titled Romance of the Three Kingdoms from the 14th century, so it’s like having a history lesson in a game, a two-for-one special, you might say.
Dynasty Warriors 6, the most recent incarnation of the series, is quite impressive graphically, especially in terms of how various components of the in-game environment have been constructed. It’s quite possibly the best looking Dynasty Warriors game I’ve ever seen. Ambient lighting, realistic water effects, well-crafted buildings that look like they should be where they are, all combine together to make this title well able to hold it’s own against this generation’s heaviest hitters.
The gameplay is superlatively easy once you get into the swing of things. The four buttons control the three types of attacks and the jump ability between them, and the right control stick controls the camera which is, sadly, manual and can make the highly involved battles of Dynasty Warriors Six something of a hassle when you have to keep rotating the camera to see your enemy. The mini-map does help with this, though, as you can switch it to the local view and just aim in the direction of the dots that represent the bad guys; gotta love color coding. One of the new facets of the game is the skill tree, a system similar to what was found in Final Fantasy X, where players select upgrades for their character that give more health, strength, or unlock abilities by using the skill points given after each battle.
The game also has a free play mode, a challenge mode, and a Camp mode where you can look at the various weapons, horses, and skills you’ve earned along the way. There is even an encyclopedia where you can review various information about the characters, battles, and even the aphorisms that arose from this era of China’s history, which has to make this game the best choice for gamers who like historical recreation titles.
One of the parts where Dynasty Warriors Six tends to fall down on the job is in-level navigation. The game does provide you with a mini-map that can be switched to show the whole level or to show your immediate area; while this does help you in getting from place to place, it’s less helpful when you have to reach a specific spot close to you, especially when you’re in a hurry. From time to time, you will be asked to help other units on the battlefield and often times a lot of level was spent in running around trying to find exactly how to get to that part of the map. It was a minor problem but it did tend to stagger the gameplay.
The continuity is a definite issue here for, even though some new characters have been included, you will often find yourself playing through missions that have been hallmarks of the previous games along with ones that have never been seen. The story of Dynasty Warriors Six seems to be diluted somewhat despite the heroic deeds that go on in the game, which is most likely due to the voice acting. That’s not to say that the voice acting is bad: not at all, but it just seems more then average case of miscasting. The only female character in the game, despite having a reputation in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms as a tomboy who fought beside her brothers and had ladies-in-waiting who wore full armor while attending her, has a voice that gives her an all defining element of perkiness that seems to clash horribly with the time frame of the game. The rest of the voice acting is fine for what is asked of it, but there were really some startling choices in the game that made me wonder. Seriously, who could imagine any Chinese warrior saying, “Of course, silly!”?
However, in Dynasty Warrior Six’s defense, it is an ideal button masher game. Huge environments full of enemies, some of whom appear randomly throughout the level, ensure that the player will always be occupied in taking down the hordes of enemy troops that will be swarming at you. However, this game should only be purchased by fans of the genre because a button masher is a repetitive style of gameplay by it’s very definition and it can drag somewhat, especially if you’ve played the previous games.
It seems that for those who played and enjoyed the previous Dynasty Warriors titles, number 6 is a worthy successor but for those who are less into the button mashing scene, it would be better off in letting this be a rental than a buy.