Dynasty Warriors: Increasingly becoming a relic of the past.
Dynasty Warriors is one of those tried-and-true franchises that it seems every gamer has played an itineration of at some point in their lives. It features an interesting mix of historical detail and melee-style gameplay that has yet to be recreated. However, one of the main issues that many have with Dynasty Warriors as a franchise is that it seems that every new entry in the series is a little too similar to the last.
What once seemed original now seems mundane, and Dynasty Warriors 6, I’m sad to say, continues this underwhelming trend. To its credit, there are several mechanisms in place in Dynasty Warriors 6 to try to combat this tendency. But while these new improvements are a welcome change, they are not big enough to make a real difference in the gaming slump that the Dynasty Warriors franchise seems to have found itself in.
Most Dynasty Warriors games revolve around The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which is a classic piece of Asian literature. It deals with the power struggle and war that broke out during the fall of the Han dynasty. The book features many characters, and Dynasty Warriors features about 40 of the most significant. The story upon which it is based features drama, romance, and of course, action. However, the game has always has an issue conveying the latter two in its story mode. I was really hoping for a more in-depth story this time around, but unfortunately it seems that the story still lacks some of the poignancy of the work upon which it is based. Still, the story does suffice for an action game and features the story behind a select few of the more prominent Dynasty Warriors. Most of the characters are returning for this game, with old favorites like Cao Cao and Lu Bu being the main focus of the game. I can’t really dole out too much hate on the story, but I must admit that I was a little disappointed with how shallow the story mode ended up being. The story mode feels like it is stuck in second gear and can’t quite convey what it wants to. But as I said before, it suffices for what it is.
The battle system in this game is really where it all falls apart for me. The battle system is simply a button mash fury where you will succeed at any level on any difficulty setting just by pushing the main attack button at a furious pace and occasionally hitting the special attack button. The game tries to combat the button mashing frenzy by implementing a “Renbu” system that allows you to gain more power as you fight and trigger special abilities. However, I found that in practical gameplay the Renbu system is almost completely immaterial. Sure, there are a few numbers at the bottom of the screen that say you’re doing a good job, but this doesn’t detract from the button-mash-centric style of gameplay. If anything it promotes this technique, which is definitely a bad thing. When all you do to play through a game is repeatedly mash the same buttons, it gets horribly boring. I know arcade fans out there might disagree with me, but as an arcade fan myself, I can tell you that the approach to battle in Dynasty Warrior 6 is just not enough to hold your interest for more than an hour at the most.
Individual levels in Dynasty Warriors 6 also suffer from a large degree of monotony. Although there are several characters who have playable stories, you’ll find that most of the different stages overlap and you’ll end up fighting the same enemies and doing the exact same thing for each of these levels. In addition to the various story modes, there is also a challenge mode where you can see how many enemies you can take down without getting hit, how fast you can run through a stage or even how many total KOs you can get. The challenge stages are alright at best, but they suffer as well from being way too repetitive. They borrow small chunks of the level stages and don’t have enough unique value to merit additional playthoughs. The only exception to this might be if you are really into the whole leaderboard scene, as you can upload your best times and kills to a Dynasty Warriors national leaderboard.
Graphically, this game is pretty solid in a technical sense. The 1080p is fairly evident through the sharp action and detailed action sequences. However, the visuals in this game are not spotless. One of the big problems I have with the look of this title is the fact that all of your opponents in a given stage look and act the same.
Anyone who is familiar with the Dynasty Warriors series knows that you face armies of hundreds during most levels. So it is not a huge crime to see only a few character models for the different enemies. However, when you can swing you weapon at a crowd of thirty enemies and watch indistinguishable enemies fall down in an identical manner, it just doesn’t look good. Another issue I have with the visuals are the disappearing environments. I am very reliant on landmarks in games as a way to navigate large levels, and Dynasty Warriors is the only franchise I have ever encountered where landmarks like bushes and trees actively disappear. I’m not sure if this serves some type of gameplay purpose, but it is rather frustrating when you try to recall that there is an important enemy near a conspicuous forest, and then you find yourself lost because the forest has suddenly disappeared. It’s quite frustrating .
Sound in this game is actually pretty good. I rather enjoyed some of the level soundtracks, and would go as far as to say that some of the tracks are worth having in your music collection. Even if you don’t like the series, I would highly recommend downloading the main title as well as “A Ways Away” and “Geniuses’ Sanctuaries.” These are all very energetic songs and are a real pleasure to listen to. If there is one thing that Dynasty Warriors got absolutely right, it must be the score. The voiceovers are not bad, but the English voiceover does sound a little cheesy. But I’m definitely not complaining about the English voiceover too much, because it gets the job done, and there is always the option to turn it off.
I can’t even remember the first Dynasty Warriors game. It feels like a series that has always been there. Although it has never been one of my absolute favorite series, the Dynasty Warriors games provided a little bit of mindless fun and filled my occasional need for aggressive button-mashing gameplay. But I am sad to say that the affection I once felt for this series is beginning to wane. What was once regarded as a fun-but-shallow game series has transformed into a shallow-and-pointless one. Dynasty Warriors 6 does not totally fail as a game, but it has begun my own personal disenchantment with the series. There is a whole lot of potential behind the Dynasty Warriors series, and it is a real shame that it has become stagnant over the years. Even though Dynasty Warriors 6 does do a lot of things better than before, it is just not enough to make it a great game.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.1 Graphics
HD-Quality graphics are spot on, but too many similar looking people tarnish the many lines of resolution 2.0 Control
Exceedingly simple, which works negatively in this case because the repeated mashing of one button gets amazingly boring. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is great, especially main menu music. Voiceovers are a little cheesy, but mostly inoffensive. 2.0 Play Value
Most of the Musou levels are essentially the same, and challenge modes are way too repetitive. Playing this one the first time is monotonous enough, so I can’t imagine subjecting yourself to more. 3.1 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.