[Review] Dynasty Warriors 7 – Jin Rises!
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Tecmo Koei; Developer:Omega Force ; Players: 1 – 2; Released: March 29, 2011; ESRB: Teen; Official Website
Already on its seventh edition, Omega Force’s Dynasty Warriors series has been equally hated and loved. Dynasty Warriors 7 comes out one year after the ten year anniversary of Dynasty Warriors 2, which came out in 2000 and marked the beginning of the hack and slash formula. It adds a slew of new features and a brand new kingdom, Jin, which was the historical successor of the Han Dynasty. While these new additions are unlikely to convert over any skeptics, Dynasty Warriors enthusiasts will appreciate them and champion this as their new favorite hack-and-slash.
New weapons along with their character counterparts are practically expected with each new Dynasty Warriors iteration; however, with the addition of weapon changing, characters are no longer restricted to having the same weapon and moveset. While it’s definitely a fun new way to use characters, the same movesets are attached to the same weapons, meaning that no matter who is using the twin swords or axe, they will be using the same animations. Characters will have their own EX moves associated with a specific weapon though, which gives a hint of unique flavor to each character. Quite frankly, however, I never really strayed from the default weapon except when using others to master seals, which can be equipped to improve attack or even give an extra musou gauge. However, despite the new weapon system, the basic gameplay doesn’t stray far from the hack-and-slash, button-mashing formula, which will still be a turn-off for gamers who hate repetitive action.
Over the years, Omega Force’s story-telling skills have been improving and the culmination of that is in full effect in Dynasty Warriors 7. The music is a strong tool, conveying the sorrow and blind rage that Liu Bei felt after Guan Yu’s death with slow, ominous music or helping to spur on players with hard rock during battles. The actual gameplay sequences were important as well. During the last battle as Guan Yu, I became increasingly surrounded by enemy troops as my own generals deflected until I was trapped on a cliff. If it weren’t for the laughable voice acting, I might have actually shed a tear. Although I knew Guan Yu’s death was a certainty, the delivery was done so well that I couldn’t help but wish for a possibility that history and Romance of the Three Kingdoms be defied here. Rather than following any individual character throughout the story, players can choose to follow one of the three kingdoms – Shu, Wu, Wei, or Jin. The result is a story that more closely reflects the original Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which is certain to satisfy some history buffs. Although Tecmo Koei takes some liberties here, this is practically expected out of any “historical” game, much like in “historical” movies.
Replacing the Free mode from the past, Conquest mode puts players on a board of China with each slot representing a map. Most of the scenarios are even more fictitious than Romance of the Three Kingdoms and improve abilities or grant items, like rare weapons, while others pit characters in “dream” scenarios, such as Liu Bei raiding a Wu base and exacting revenge for Guan Yu or Xing Cai, daughter of Zhang Fei, proving her might to Shu officers. In this mode, players can also invite others or join random games. It’s certainly a helpful feature to have, being able to ride through the battlefield with another player who isn’t some brainless AI, and it beats having to charge through a hard stage alone.
There is also no shortage of difficulty here. Most players will be able to blow through Story mode easily, but Conquest mode gets progressively difficult and will give players a run for their money unless they do a good amount of grinding, building up characters’ stats. This is probably unappealing for most cynics who aren’t attracted to the prospect of hacking up grunts on a battlefield already, but make up the core reason why Dynasty Warriors fans go back to the series months after release. By grinding and playing through harder levels, players will be rewarded with the coveted rare weapons. Early levels will give out some weapons, like an iron fan, but most players will probably want a spear or halberd instead, which will take the most work.
Dynasty Warriors 7 is a great new entry in the series, improving upon the old formula. Despite that though, it won’t bring over any gamers who aren’t fans already. Fans of the series, however, won’t be disappointed with the additions and changes. It’s hard to blame Omega Force for sticking with the same formula when it’s gained them the legion of fans over the past two console generations. After all, you can’t satisfy everyone.