Let me start by saying I love games that take a bit of strategy to get things done, use tactics, or figure out puzzles. But sometimes, I just wanna beat stuff up. When that urge comes around, I usually pulled out a Dynasty Warriors game. Now that the newest game in the series is out, it’s thankfully fixed some problems, added some new content, and balanced some of the characters, while adding a few new ones. Some may say it barely earned the right to stick a 4 on it, but to those who have never played a Dynasty Warriors game before, it’s the best time to give the series a chance.
The graphics of Dynasty Warriors 4 have been upgraded a tad from the last installation, but the engine already did an excellent job. Some flashy new effects have been added, and the fighters look more polished. Multiple enemies can be seen on the screen at the same time, usually about 30 enemies or so, with minimal problems. There is still some slowdown occasionally when there are a lot of enemies about, but for the most part things run pretty smoothly.
For those new to the series, Dynasty Warriors is at its core a hack and slash game, but has so many extra elements to it and so much variety that most people honestly won’t care about the repetitiveness of it. You take on the role of a general in one of three different armies, and go kill hundreds of regular soldiers while eventually running into characters in the storyline, who are a bit harder. You also have the option of fighting on horseback, and in some stages, on an elephant. After attacking enough soldiers, your Musou bar will increase until it flashes, allowing you to do a special attack. When these officers are killed, they can drop items, which your general may equip, or they may drop items which permanently increase your attack or defense. Scattered throughout the levels are items which also can increase your maximum amount of health, or the length of your special attacks. It’s a very addictive formula despite its simple nature, and can keep you riveted for hours to just get that new level, unlock that new costume, or get that better weapon. There are multiple playable modes to take your general through. There’s Musou mode, which takes a general through the storyline through different story branches; Free mode in which you can go to any level previously unlocked with any general; Versus mode, in which two generals fight it out; Challenge mode, which lets you see how many people you can kill before you die, and Time attack mode, which puts you against the clock to see if you can kill 100 enemies within a certain time limit. There is also an Edit mode, in which you can make your own officers or bodyguards, and an encyclopedia, which tells you the storyline of Romance of the Three Kingdoms and what part each general had to play.
Now for those who have played the series before, I will just skip the formalities and tell you what the developers have added to the series.
# There are 43 characters total, with three new heroes, one for each side.
# You can now unlock up to six new outfits for your warriors as you go up in rank.
# You can create your own generals and customize their looks, their weapons and their movesets, as well as creating and naming your own bodyguards.
# Instead of finding new weapons in the field, you now level up your weapons by killing enemy officers and by doing combo attacks.
# There are five new orb items that add elemental attacks to your weapons.
# There is now a temporary power up that increases your run speed.
# Bodyguards now level up and get more powerful, and you may choose which weapons they use and depending on the different combinations used, they may have different attacks and their looks may vary.
# Occasionally an enemy officer may ask you to duel. If you accept, you will go to a sort of vs. mode. If you win, the officer is defeated and you get quite a bit of weapons experience and the officer is defeated. If you lose, you lose the game.
# There are more branches in the storyline and over 50 maps to fight on.
# Musou mode is now two-player compatible.
The list of little tweaks like this goes on and on. While nothing totally revolutionary is added to the formula, all the additions are quite welcome, and only add to the overall experience.
The sound in this game is very solid, with a mix of heavy metal to smooth oriental music. It never really gets annoying, which is a plus. The voice acting has also been improved upon and the voice actors’ lines aren’t half as laughable as in Dynasty Warriors 3. It still can be a bit odd at times, but the lines are said with a lot better presentation this time around.
With 43 characters to unlock and play as, there’s a lot of time to be spent in this game. It normally takes about two hours to take a character through Musou mode, and if you do the math, that’s 86 hours in just beating it with everyone and unlocking all the endings. That’s not including maxing out a characters stats and weapons, and getting them their ultimate weapons, which can take even longer. There’s also the option of unlocking all the levels by following certain goals or doing things in a specific order, and even then there’s tons of items to unlock with varying degrees of quality ranging from a level 1 item to a level 20. All in all, you can easily spend over 100 hours with this game just trying to get everything unlocked. I easily clocked in over 90 hours in Dynasty Warriors 3 just by attempting to do all that I mentioned above, and I plan on try to doing so again this time around.
Overall, if you’re a fan of the series, you are more than likely going to jump on the chance to level up all your generals yet again and try to find everything there is to do in this game, and won’t mind it at all. If you’re a newcomer to the series, you’ll be in awe at the amount of things there are to do in this game. Either way, you should have fun the entire way through.