|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Omega Force|
|Pub: Tecmo Koei|
|Release: March 29, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Robert VerBruggen
At the end of the day, the most amazing thing about Dynasty Warriors 7 is how the developers managed to squeeze so little gameplay out of so much content.
Under the hood, there's really a lot to this game. Since the franchise changed genres from fighting to hack-and-slash/adventure about ten years ago, it has built up an amazing amount of lore, and this entry features four lengthy campaigns in which different kingdoms fight for supremacy. Each campaign has a ridiculously big cast of characters.
Like previous entries, Dynasty Warriors 7 tells the story of China's bloody Three Kingdoms period. It's loosely based on the stories told in The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and it begins with the Yellow Turban Rebellion in 187 A.D. After that, the Kingdoms of Wei, Shu, and Wu diverge, and for the first time in Dynasty Warriors history, this game goes beyond those three kingdoms and their factions to the Jin kingdom. The storytelling is strangely compelling, despite the spotty voice work and often-terrible dialogue; these historical dramas are just interesting in their own right.
The mechanics of the fighting system do a good job of striking a balance between simplistic and overly complicated. You can jump, block, attack in varying strengths, and change weapons in mid-combo. Juggles are important, and as you deal damage, you build up a meter that can be used to unleash a special attack. There's a series of tutorials to help you master the various moves and rhythms of combat.
The item system is well-done as well. Being able to wield more than one weapon at once is new to the franchise, and you're constantly swapping out old weapons for new ones with better stats and special moves. Hacking and slashing is always more fun when you have a shiny new blade to hack and slash with. Your character can also increase his stats, though there's no longer "leveling up," as such.
But as soon as you set foot in battle stage, none of that really matters. Much like the Dead Rising games with their hordes of zombies, Dynasty Warriors 7 values quantity over quality when it comes to enemies—and unlike the Dead Rising games, it doesn't make up for that with clever gameplay innovations. Nearly the whole game is just a matter of running up to enemies and hammering buttons.
You spend most of your time hacking through groups of weak enemies en route to some objective or other, and most of these groups have particularly powerful leaders. The leaders are basically just random soldiers with pumped-up stats, however; they seldom have special attack patterns to learn, much less any kind of personality. The rote repetition of taking out one group after another becomes boring very, very quickly. The occasional change of pace, such as an environmental problem (falling boulders, for example), a horse to ride, or an ally who needs help elsewhere on the map, don't do nearly enough to shake up the monotony.