Welcome To Dynasty Simulation
Dynasty Warriors is one of those franchises that never seems to go away, even though it never really strikes it big. There have been Dynasty Warriors games that have taken place in China, Japan, and Rome. There have been Dynasty Warriors games for Gundam and One Piece. There are even crossover Dynasty Warriors games that put everyone into a dream match. At this point it feels like they’ve made a Dynasty Warriors game for every fan of every genre in existence.
However, even though the series offers an astounding amount of variety in terms of characters and setting, the gameplay has remained essentially the same. Just hammer on that square button and watch peons fall around you. Granted, there is a bit more strategy when it comes to taking on some of the bigger baddies, but Dynasty Warriors has always been known as a button masher.
That’s what makes the Empires series so strange. There’s plenty of button mashing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s all framed by what is essentially a strategy game. You’ll be concerned with more than just capturing territories and beating up enemy generals in this title. Instead, you’ll engage in diplomacy with neighboring lands, recruit soldiers to join your ranks, and spend just as much time planning your war strategy as you do hammering on the square button to kill enemy troops.
The game is essentially a turn-based strategy when it isn’t a button-mashing action game. You have a limited amount of months (turns) to carry out missions given to you by your superiors. Most actions in the game take a month to complete, and so much of the strategic portion of the game comes down to managing your time and your resources.
This is where you get to define what sort of leader you are. You can spend all your time training troops and forging better weapons, making your strength on the battlefield unmatched. However, you can just as easily spend time acting as a diplomat toward neighboring lands and forming alliances. You can play a numbers game and micromanage your food and gold, dishing out just the right amount to your people and your troops.
Of course, that’s all a matter of nationwide growth, but there are a lot of actions that effect your character’s personal growth as well. You character is rated in “fame” based on your actions in the game. Fame is essentially a rating of your character’s personality rather than their actual physical prowess. Fame affects what missions you have available to you and alters the way your character acts in cutscenes. It’s quite interesting to totally flip established Dynasty Warriors characters’ personalities on their heads. I enjoyed making all of my characters as evil as possible.
Going even deeper, you’ll be able to form personal relationships with other characters in the game as well. If you are a fan of dating sims you can even pick another character to marry. If lovey dovey stuff isn’t your cup of tea, then you can play the role of the military man seeking upward mobility. By doing well in your missions, you can earn promotions, which not only make you more powerful physically, but also more powerful influentially. You’ll be able to have sway in the War Council meetings, choosing who you go to war with and how. Of course, there will be other offers vying for your promotion as well, but you can even go as far as to slander fellow officer’s names and even get them banished! It’s a surprisingly deep simulation for a Dynasty Warriors game.
Of course, Dynasty Warriors games are all about the action, and so everything you do in the simulation part of the game affects what you can do in the action part of the game. In terms of gameplay, it’s essentially the same thing you have seen in every other Dynasty Warriors title you have played. Mash Square. Mash Square. Mash Square. Mash Square some more. But the parameters of each battle change depending on what you did in the simulation.
For example, if you have more troops than your enemy, or if you are better equipped, then you will find yourself easily able to steamroll over your enemy’s forces. If you go into battle with your significant other or another character that you have built strong bonds with, you’ll get bonuses when fighting alongside them.
Unfortunately, there is a hitch in the gameplay that stems from the Dynasty Warriors formula itself. You see, no matter what you do, you will inevitably be the strongest thing in the battlefield because you have a human intelligence. This alone is enough to exploit enemy A.I. and cut through peons like a hot sword through soldiers made of butter. Dynasty Warriors was developed to make you feel like a powerful warrior of the ages, writing history with your footsteps on the battlefield and, to be fair, it does make you feel that way. But because so much of your army’s might is centered on you, the player character, you can easily get neglectful in your officer duties in the simulation portion.
Another problem is the difficulty curve. At the beginning of the game you can easily take on armies of two or even three times your size without any real threat. But toward the middle and end of the game, the difficulty ramps up rather sharply. On one hand, this makes you pay attention to the simulation elements a bit more, but on the other hand it makes a lot of your deaths feel “cheap.”
There’s only one real mode in Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires: the campaign. You won’t find time attack or any of the other standard Dynasty Warriors modes here, and that’s partially because they are represented in the campaign itself. Simple skirmishes ask you to kill anything that moves, while more important missions will give you objectives centered around defeating enemy officers and capturing specific areas of the map.
There are a couple evolutions to the gameplay system that are worth mentioning. Different actions in the simulation portion of the game will give you access to stratagems, which are essentially instant effects that can change the tide of battle. The two-weapon gameplay of Dynasty Warriors 7 returns, as does the ability to respawn generals at the cost of troops. The game does feature a few new characters and weapons, and you can issue orders to your generals in the middle of battle, though you’ll frequently find yourself neglecting this. You can also play the game cooperatively with a friend, though they’ll have no say in the simulation portions.
Overall, Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires is fun, but it sometimes feels like it doesn’t really know its audience. The strategy portions are deeper than you find in most action games but shallower than an actual sim game. Meanwhile, the action portions are fun, but they paled in comparison to, say, Warriors Orochi 3.
If you are a fan of Dynasty Warriors, especially the Empires series, then by all means pick up the game. However, as I mentioned earlier, there are lots of Dynasty Warriors to choose from, and if you are looking for a more traditional experience, you might want to stray away from the Empires series.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.7 Graphics
The graphics are solid, no better or worse than other Dynasty Warriors titles. 3.8 Control
The controls are actually really tight. Of course, you’ll usually be button mashing, but if you want to play more strategically you can. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Ancient Chinese history played to thrash guitar? Yes please! 3.8 Play Value
Overall, a solid experience, but people looking for more traditional action titles might want to look elsewhere. 3.7 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best