Dynasty Warriors 2 Review

By: John Doe

The land that gave us martial arts, tea, spaghetti and priceless vases for Archie to smash at Mr. Lodge's mansion, is not really giving us anything this time. I'm talking about China. Ya... what have they done lately anyway? Dynasty Warriors 2 is based on China's ancient soldiers who defended the Dynasties with their superior fighting skills for centuries. And yes, spaghetti was invented in China. The famed European explorer Marco Polo was introduced to it on his travels there and brought it back to Europe where the Italians threw tomato sauce all over it. Although it's a true story, I realize it would make a sad game.


Dynasty Warriors 2 is far from sad and it's far from being just a regular murderous rampage with swords. Imagine going back in time to learn the ancient art of war and being able to apply that knowledge directly to the battlefield. Don't get scared now because while there is some strategy involved this is still a real-time 3D fighter/hack & slash. With the ultimate goal to unite the country, you can assume the characters of many of China's revered warriors and lead your ever growing ranks on to victory after victory. The 150-acre battlefield can accommodate more than 1000 bloodthirsty units but fortunately you will only have to deal with a small fraction of that onscreen at any given time.

As you win battles, you acquire more soldiers. The soldiers are not merely a herd of sheep however, you have to initiate fights, leave openings for them to fill and keep the upper hand in all confrontations as the troops have a built-in morale meter which sees them fight more effectively when they detect solid leadership. Take a lot of hits and you're working with a bunch of lazy teamsters who want longer coffee breaks, better working conditions and free dry cleaning. As morale decreases and your energy level is fading, you will have to employ basic strategies such as limiting the offensive. Brazen attacks at the beginning of any battle may result in major losses. You have to know when to retreat or at least take the defensive and wait for a golden opportunity to launch an attack. Power-ups, which restore lives and weapons, are dispersed throughout the battlefield as enemies are eliminated. Some of the weapons including the Musou, which is best described as a deadly, 360-degree energy wave that can immobilize dozens of adversaries. It may be saved and put to use in situations where you may be surrounded and outnumbered. The Musou evens the playfield quite nicely even if it seems a little garish for such an orthodox-looking game.

If you're into history at all, you will appreciate the detail and authenticity of the costumes, weapons and background renderings. Little is left to the imagination thanks to the power of the PS2. The characters are very well animated with virtually no alaising (except for the occasional lance). The screen can be absolutely full of warriors (up to 30) with no slow down of framerate with each character still maintaining his costume's details. The cinema at the beginning of the game is a fantastic overture. After watching it you will be inspired to mount your horse and engage in some hacking and slashing. Each character that you choose comes with unique skills and a preferred brand of weapon including a sword, bow and arrow or a lance. For my money, nothing beats a sword on horseback. Yee Haw.

The ambient noises, which include a variety of grunts, groans, cheers, chants and shouts, are realistic sounding and timed appropriately. It's nice to hear the sounds of the dying enemies in agony. Those groans begin to sound as appealing as a Las Vegas slot machine spitting dollars into the metal coin tray. But if something doesn't make sense it's the distorted guitar riffs that comprise the soundtrack. Does Koei think that all American kids aren't sophisticated enough to appreciate authentic sounding Chinese music? Okay they have a point there, but why not at least offer the option? Kids will think the Stratocaster and the Marshall stack were invented before Kung Fu and rice pilaf.

If you're not opposed to a good fight, then nothing about this game sucks and therefore that's reason enough to buy it. The AI is so good you can tell your friends to hit the road and stop calling you for a couple of weeks. Take a trip down memory lane, back to the second century and relieve the good old days.






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