Certain things in life are what you can consider as being reliable, and Koei producing another Dynasty Warriors game, certainly falls into the area of reliability and a damn sure thing. The Xbox 360 has been around now since the last quarter of 2005 and we have already seen a large number of titles from the series that is Dynasty Warriors, appearing on the console. Now and about time too, Koei rather than producing what looks like a port for the Xbox 360 have designed Dynasty Warriors 6 from the ground up especially for the next generation platform. The question that this now raises is quite simply put as “have they now?”… So to answer that little question, of course means you reading past my opening paragraph.
So what are you waiting for… read on!
The formula behind Dynasty Warriors has not really changed you are still taking control of Chinese warriors and look to lay waste to anything that gets in your way as you march hack and slash style across the battlefield. Game modes exist with playing through the Musou and Free Battle modes and you begin your DW6 journey with nine unlocked warriors, three from each of the three kingdoms. Through making your way through the Musou storylines you will unlock additional warriors as you go and likewise/ditto with Free Battle. Certain additional characters will then have their own storyline to play through with others just being readily available for you to grind away in the Free Battle mode, choosing any singular campaign that takes your fancy. DW6 also offers a Challenge mode pitting you against the clock and/or high score to beat, and Co-op play is also back, albeit played locally rather than over Xbox LIVE which is something Koei seem to think is unimportant and a bit of a disappointment, once again!
Gameplay has also seen quite a few changes with a lot of the combo systems thrown out the window in favour of the new Renbu system making its debut (more on that later) and now your characters have a skill tree where you can take experienced earned from the battlefield and apply it to your character in different ways. Another new gameplay feature now exists with the ability to take your character off the beaten path and allowing you to explore the map in greater detail. Now you can swim across any stretch of water, climb ladders and even smash you way through gates. This introduction I have to say is very neat and allows you to try and sneak your way through and as such create the element of surprise when you unleash your full fury on un-expecting foes. Musou attacks and power attacks are still present and spectacular to watch in execution.
Going back to the Renbu system this works in a way of you simply smashing your way through hordes of enemies and while you build up your attack chain the Renbu bar increases. As it does so, so does the strength and the variety of your attack combinations. It is a simple system to grasp and nice to watch your attack patterns getting flashier and longer as the Renbu bar raises. In early mission this will be capped at a certain limit but as you make your way through the game that limit will raise as you make progress through the game. The downside here is that the combo attacks of linking strong and weak/weak and strong attacks together has gone and now means you are pretty much mashing away on one button and add to that, that when your Renbu bar is low then you have all the flair of a donkey. So while very cool when in full flow, on the opposite slant it is very disappointing to have lost the combo attack elements for favour of this new system.
I referred to grinding your way through this game and to a certain extent this is what this game is all about. The amount of scope for levelling up your character is huge and given how many characters you can unlock the longevity to this game is without question – HUGE! The majority of the achievements (all listed as secret – and why they do that is beyond me) are even levied against unlocking all characters and getting them maxed out. And it is only really when you consider that you are looking at getting 41 characters all maxed out at level 50 then… wow, wow… wow! This is certainly not a game for the quick fix achievement junkie and you are looking at weeks of play rather than days so is certainly out of the window as a rental choice – you have been warned, this game demands dedication if you wish to receive the glory associated with the 1000 gamer score available.
Looks wise and as per my opener… this is the first game to have been developed with the next generation platform in mind and while this game is certainly not sparkling in any way shape or form, the looks have jumped up in leaps and bounds. Now while your backdrops still lack any imagination what so ever and still appearing as flat lifeless smears, the character modelling is brilliant compared to any other of the 360 versions from the Warriors series. Everything in this department just looks crisp and is a joy, to look at (better late than never eh Ed). Audio on the other hand just about gets by once again with rather cheesy voice over acting and only the clashes and clangs of weapons making any of the high notes for the senses. Overall this is the step in the right direction and while I think there is still a lot of room for improvement, Koei do seem “at last” to at least be taking the game in the right direction.
Closing out it is worth mentioning that have never really been a fan of the Dynasty Warriors series as I have quite often find the games to be very frustrating affairs and I really do not have the patience to play the game through as designed (i.e. as above getting 41 characters all up to level 50). That said I have usually been the man at Totally360.com that has ended up reviewing the series of game and I have had quite a bit of fun with each title. Short lived fun, but still all the same… fun. The hack and slash element to these games is superb and nothing beats the one man/woman versus the World scenario as you smash your way through hundreds of on screen enemies in spectacular fashion. Tough days in the office soon melt away after you have obliterated a few hundred enemies.
Now, as good as the combat system is with the fun you can have with it, rampaging through the battlefields… my main personal issue with the game and quite frankly the entire Warriors series is that it expects far too much time from the gamer. While longevity with a game should be a good thing as there are a hell of a lot of 360 titles that can be considered done, dusted and traded in less that 10 hours, too much longevity with what needs to be done, can also be quite off putting to most gamers. This as such labels Dynasty Warriors 6 for the hardcore fan of the series and for the fan, a DW game you will probably love. On the opposite side of the fence the casual gamer will get smothered under the weight of content you need to chew through, and like me probably feeling frustrated that for hours upon hours of effort… the rewards are poor!
If you are new to the series then I would say that this is the title you should test to see if you are a lover or hater… but if you have been here before and left last time with disappointment, then nothing much has changed. The fans of the series will love this game, everyone else need not apply.