Outside of the Gundam spin-off, I have never played a proper Dynasty Warriors game before. I have experienced multiple games in the same vein as the series, several based on popular anime series, but I have never touched a tried and true DW game. Now that I have played Dynasty Warriors 8, I can see why the series keeps going and going.
Set during the war for control of China, players take on the roles of four kingdoms and the many generals, officers and warriors of each faction. Players choose a certain faction to play through each campaign and go through many battles, hacking and slashing their way to victory.
During battles, players attack with two buttons. Each succession and varying alterations of button presses offers up a combo. Many of these combos knock around foes and juggle them into the air. There is a gauge for both Musou and Rampage that will fill with each attack. Musou is used to create a special super attack that will heavily damage bosses as well as killing multiple enemies in a flashy style. Rampage, when activated, will make characters faster, stronger and more deadly. This also allows for the Ultimate Musou attack that is an even stronger.
Each character carries two weapons at a time. Each weapon has a special affinity: Earth, Man, or Heaven. Much like a Rock, Paper, Scissors feature, players must switch weapons when taking on boss encounters. If a boss has the advantage, players will do less damage, but may be able to counter attacks from them if they time a weapon switch correctly. If the player has the advantage, the boss will have a blue icon that will slowly deplete when hit. Once fully depleted, the player breaks the boss’ guard and unleashes a barrage of unblockable hits that do massive damage.
Players can also pick up new weapons, upgrades, and experience points during battles that will improve their powers. Each character that is used in battle gains their own experience and with over 50 characters to choose from, there’s a ton to level up and equip. Players can not only equip weapons to their characters, but also new skills that increase their stats. The customization is very impressive, and without them, players may find the game to be rather difficult. Always improving characters is very important in DW.
There is a free mode that allows players to re-play levels to gain more experience and new loot drops. This mode can also be played online with others. Hacking and slashing with a friend online is just as fun one would expect, and with each level I played online, I never experienced any lag.
There is also a special mode called Ambition Mode. Here, players help build and create a city of their own using resources found in battles. Improving buildings can offer upgrades for both character stats and weapons. They can choose what battles to go on and may also gain new allies to use in during this mode. It’s a nice alternative when players are wanting a little more than just mass murdering dozens of enemies.
For a game that has a lot of mindless action, there is a good amount of strategy involved. Between switching weapons and countering boss attacks, trying to keep combos going with different attacks and switching weapons is challenging and fun. Both the campaign and ambition modes offer up some interesting battles and never let this game fool you, it can become difficult quickly. One minute I’m killing my way to victory, and the next Lu Bu is hitting me twice and I’m dead. It is not always a walk in the park.
Even though I had a great time with DW8, I still found a few problems with the overall experience. The animations are somewhat stiff but when attacking, everything is fine. It’s almost like the game doesn’t know how to act when players aren’t attacking all the time. The visuals are decent, but I found myself in numerous areas that all look about the same and are about as detailed as a launch PS2 game. When it comes to having a massive amount of enemies on screen at one time, it is very impressive, and the flashy attacks and combos look awesome at times. Finally, the voice acting is pretty bad. Yes, I know it is supposed to be cheesy, at least, I’m guessing it’s supposed to be, but it’s laughable at times. In fact, the overall story had me pretty much ignoring it throughout most of the game. After all, I’m here to kick ass and read a story, and I’m all out of story.
For fans of the series, you all pretty much know what you’re getting into with Dynasty Warriors 8. For newcomers looking for a fun time killing droves and droves of enemies, you have found your game. I was thoroughly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed player Dynasty Warriors 8. There’s a ton of content in the package and the online can keep friends co-oping for a good long while. I think anyone out there thinking they should try it out should do just that. You’ll have a lot of fun.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on PlayStation 3.