Another Day, Another Empire
Although Dynasty Warriors (DW) was certainly a staple franchise last generation, the flaws in DW have really come to light since the release of Dynasty Warriors 6 last year. With too much emphasis on button mashing and not enough story or varied gameplay, Dynasty Warriors 6 was a little too forgettable for fans of the franchise. Unfortunately, though some minor improvements have been made, Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires still feels way too familiar.
The premise is pretty much the same as previous Dynasty Warriors games, kill everything with a red dot over it. However, the main difference between Dynasty Warriors 6 and its Empires follow-up is that the focus is on uniting China under a common leader. You can play as a leader, an officer, or a vagrant, and although all of these roles involve running through the levels and wildly hacking at enemies, there are a few subtle differences.
If you play as a leader, it will be your job to decide how and when to take over territories. You’ll have a huge map in front of you and will be able to gain friends within your region who will be willing to fight with you. Playing as an officer is a little less complicated. Your lord will give you certain regions to deal with, and you will be able to sit at court sessions and gain favor by doing what you are asked. If you play your cards right, you’ll eventually be regarded as the leader’s right hand man.
The vagrant class has the least responsibility, and you can just roam from leader to leader and side with whomever seems to be winning (and paying you more). The vagrant class doesn’t seems to offer many strategic advantages over the other two, but if your out for cash rather than glory, this class will fit the bill nicely.
Although the class system here works well, the strategy is too reliant upon the tried and true button mashing mechanic to have any real strategic merit. After making a few decisions or receiving some orders, you’ll just be thrust right back into a level where you just have to hack your way through hundreds of enemies that all look the same. Although I definitely appreciate the addition of an overarching goal in DW6 Empires, I really wish more emphasis was placed on the strategy. The game starts off with such promise, but the more you play the titular Empires mode, the more you realize that as long as you are pressing the buttons fast enough and racking up kills by the thousands, then you’ll be the victor
One aspect of Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires that was surprisingly fun to tinker with was the character creator. Although DW5 Empires had a warlord creator, DW6 Empires gives you more creative control over your newly-made character. In addition to having a wide variety of costumes and customizable features, you can also integrate your character into the main Empire mode as a vagrant, and can work your way up to become leader of the land.
As far as graphics are concerned, Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires is actually somewhat of an improvement over its predecessors. While the former title had excellent character animations and plenty of action onscreen, it was lacking in the background visuals department. Fortunately, this has been remedied in Empires. Many of the locales in Empires are lifted directly from its predecessor, but they look a little bit sharper and the landscapes aren’t as bland as they were previously.
Sound in this title is a mixed bag. On the one hand, you have the soundtrack, which is composed from songs from the original Dynasty Warriors up to last year’s entry. The music is fully customizable, and you are able to select which song you want to play in the background while you are battling. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there is the voiceover. The Dynasty Warriors series has never been known for its great voice acting, but with Empires I think the series has hit a new low.
Character voices sound bored and insincere, and it doesn’t help that the dialogue is just terrible. After hitting an Invasion event command (as an officer) I was treated to a little gem that involved a peasant saying to me “My people are suffering! Please defeat our warlord!” And what was my eloquent reply? “Well, I guess my reign begins now!” And that was it. I am all about suspending belief for a video game, but do they really want me to believe that invasion decisions are made with two poorly-voiced sentences. Not since Resident Evil 2 has there been such unintentionally humorous dialogue.
Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires is certainly an improvement over its predecessor. The class system and strategic elements give this title more purpose than Dynasty Warriors 6, but at its core, this is the same hack n’ slash gameplay with which the Dynasty Warriors franchise has become synonymous. If you’re good with that, than Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires is certainly worth your time. It would have been nice to see the franchise branch out a little, but if you just can’t wait to get back into the Dynasty Warriors groove, you’ll find plenty to enjoy with Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.2 Graphics
Graphics are nearly identical to Dynsasty Wariors 6, with the exception of the environments which do sport a fair bit more detail. 3.0 Control
The button mashing still feels monotonous, but the upgrade system works to at least add some variety. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
With tracks from all six Dynasty Warriors, the background music is great, but the voiceover is so terrible it’s almost unbearable. 2.5 Play Value
Ultimately, the problem with this title is the same as other Dynasty Warriors titles: lack of substance. Though there are some improvements over Dynasty Warriors 6, it’s just enough to make this a standout title. 3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.