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Review: Dynasty Warriors 8Dynasty Warriors 8 Tecmo Koei
Developer: Omega Force
Platform: PlayStation 3
Xbox 360, PS Vita
Release Date: July 16, 2013
ESRB: T for Teen
This review is based on the PS3 version through a code provided by the publisher
Dynasty Warriors 8 is the latest in Tecmo Koei's long-running series of chaotic brawlers. Despite numerous releases across the years, the beat-'em-up powerhouse is still trucking, still sending out hundreds of soldiers for you to beat senselessly, then advance.
The games have seen minimal changes since their inception, though their fanbase is still going strong. While there are a few alterations to the classic formula, the eighth entry is still an exciting brawler to pick up and release some pent-up frustration with.
If you're new to the Dynasty Warriors camp, the goal is simple: explore expansive maps with the intent to massacre every poor soul who should dare to stand in your way. Slaying X amount of men or conquering certain points along the map are only a few of the objectives you can look forward to completing, though it won't be strategic elements or plot points you'll find yourself coming back for time and time again. The meat of Dynasty Warriors 8 is, as expected, within its addictive combat. Several iterations over a period of time have allowed the series to find its groove, with minute changes here and there that have further refined the old "spam your attack button" trope.
Choosy players can take up the mantle of one of over 70 characters, each with varying weapon proficiencies, affinities, combos, and even companion animals. What works with one combatant may not work with another, and it's refreshing to see subtle differences in the way these warriors fight rather than the expected palette swaps of most large scale beat-'em-ups like this. This also allows for plenty of replay value. Considering how short these adventures generally are, any reason to return for additional playthroughs is appreciated.
Once you've chosen a character suited to your needs, slicing through dense crowds like a hot knife through butter is the name of the game. It's true combat can be extremely repetitive, but it's still supremely satisfying to cleave through an enormous group of enemies like it's nothing. This of course is an indication that there's a lack of challenge. It isn't as difficult as you would expect, especially with the addition of the Musou Gauge for powerful attacks and Rage for a burst of super-powered damage. Kick up the difficulty if wiping out enemies starts to become too simple, but keep in mind the game will remain short either way.
Story mode revolves around themes like honor, destiny, and ambition (as you might expect), and there's little characterization to speak of. There are several endings to uncover depending on which kingdom you're aligned with, so you're battling to an end -- just don't expect it to be an interesting one. Free mode allows you to use any character you'd like to complete missions. Ambition mode allows you to take the battle to the community, battling through the ranks for supremacy. There's plenty to do if you aren't looking for anything deep, so fans of the series should be busy for quite some time after their first playthrough.
Dated graphics and a barely passable English dub, however, mar the experience considerably. The rock-and-roll tracks that accompany battles is a little jarring in itself, and the lack of a Japanese voice track is bizarre. In fact, shouldn't there be a Chinese voice track? Strange decisions aplenty in Dynasty Warriors 8, especially considering the series' massive fan base.
But if you're coming into the franchise, you're coming for what it's already known for: beating a lot of dudes into a pulp. This game is perfect for that, with refined combat, plenty of unlockable content, and some quirky characters you'll have a few chuckles at. Just don't expect a gripping, epic tale. This action-packed beat-'em-up is all about the carnage.
+ Plenty of unlockables and characters
+ Great replay value
+ Quirky characters and powers
- Rough graphics
- No Japanese voice track
- Can be very easy
Overall Score: 7.0 (out of 10)
Dynasty Warriors 8 keeps the franchise afloat with more of the same crowd-cleaving action you've come to expect -- just don't look for much substance.
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