Review: Dynasty Warriors 7
I’ve been a fan of Dynasty Warriors since a buddy and I first pursued Lu Bu on DW2 back in the day. Dynasty Warriors is notorious for having a very tried and true formula that hasn’t evolved very much since its inception (Discounting the previous installment). Does this outing serve up more of the same or will the nay-sayers be eating some humble pie?
Starting up, you’re met with the crazy sensory overload intro. Zhao Yun saves Liu Bei’s infant son, and then escapes by running sideways on a wall. As always, the intro always makes the game seem more epic than the actual gameplay (he ran over water last time) The main screen offers up a tutorial, an in-depth encyclopedia, gallery, and the game’s two main gameplay modes: Story and Conquest. Like in previous games, in story, you choose a faction and play out that faction’s tale. This time around, they’ve added the Jin dynasty as a 4th main story mode to the usual offering of Shu Wu and Wei. I’ve played through 5 of these games, and its the same story over and over, but this time around, they took the story modes in a new direction. While in previous installments you would choose your warrior and play out the whole story mode, this time you control numerous characters during one story mode. This allows for a much more fleshed out telling of the story. When characters die (and they die a lot), its a big deal. You actually find yourself caring and learning about Romance of the Three Kingdoms in each play through. No longer do you beat the game with a character that was supposed to be dead after the first level. I found this focus on a clear cogent narrative, as well as an overall more serious tone very refreshing for this franchise. The only disappointment was where you could see levels were cut out of the story and instead told to you in cutscenes. Some of these were nothing but text and a black screen. Don’t tell me “And then Zhuge Liang went and conquered the Nanman Tribe” over a black screen. Either let me play it or at least show me a cinema/pictures of it.
The game looks better than past iterations. Main characters are bright and vibrant, and the screen truly gets filled with enemies upon enemies. To this day it is still rewarding racking up the K.O.s. I almost earned the 3000 in one battle trophy the other day, I’ll definitely be going back for that one. Besides the main characters, the graphics didn’t blow me away. I got increasingly tired with many of the maps and environments. For something as over the top as Dynasty Warriors, why can’t the environments be that way too? Much of the environments washed out. Where are my peach blossoms and my tropical Nanman paradise? Grey dreary snow map, grey dreary water map, grey dreary stone sentinel maze, hell it reminds me of Erie Pennsylvania. Red Cliff might be one of my favorite movies, why can’t this game give me visuals like that?
DW always has a crazy mix of metal music, and this time around is no different. This offering has a couple of great mixes, but there weren’t enough that stood out. Shu in particular has a few offbeat ones that I liked choosing when I played through Conquest mode. No custom soundtrack support either, so no dynasty fighting to smooth music…
Dynasty Warriors 7 rights many of the wrongs from the sixth installment. The Renbu combo system is also gone, replaced with a slightly spruced up version of the old charge combat system. There are few tweaks here and there, allowing for EX attacks that mix things up a bit. Most characters have returned to looking closer to the way they looked prior to 6. Most have also received their old weapons as well. Where 6 made almost EVERYONE fight with a halberd or spear, now we get to play with the crazier stuff like Zhang He’s claws or Sun Ce’s tonfas. Besides getting their own crazy weapons back, you’ll find that you get a lot of them too. By the time you fully collect any given warrior’s weapons, you’ll have 11 different iterations of that type. I dig. Each character is also now allowed to equip two weapons at once, so as to change the style of play as you see fit. While its neat to switch out a boring sword for something more crazy or link up combos with the two weapons, this has a dampening effect on all of the characters. Everyone feels cookie-cutter using weapons they aren’t intended to use. So while its funny to see Sun Jian running around with Huang Gai’s giant Anchor, it loses the uniqueness of both of the characters in the process.
Each character has their own skill tree to level up in story/conquest mode, yet it falls flat due to its lack of any depth whatsoever. Equippable items are gone, now replaced with obtainable “Seals” that are attached to weapons. Each weapon allows for seals to be attached to it, so as to buff attack, defense, etc. While this system is very manageable, it makes things very by the book. With free mode no longer existing, you no longer must accomplish the feats required to unlock other characters/weapons/items from previous games. All you do is play through conquest mode and you can unlock everything. Conquest mode has a map of China divided into a hundred or so hexes. Each hex is a level, taking place on a reused map. Some are smaller scale fights, others have certain tasks like protecting a base or everyones favorite type: escorting. The grinding DW addict in me really enjoys this mode, but its very by the book at the end of the day. Want a souped up weapon? Play Conquest mode. Want to unlock Red Hare? Play Conquest Mode. No longer must you defeat Lu Bu in 2 minutes and steal his horse. Just beat a level and you get it as a prize.
I tried both the local and online multiplayer. Without free mode, Online misses the target. You put out a request for someone to join you in any Conquest level. One level I played and didn’t see my online companion once, and then suddenly the victory song played. My teammate had completed the entire map’s objective without me. Two player local hasn’t changed much since the olden days; less draw distance, with split screen.
This is probably the best iteration of the Dynasty Warriors franchise since DW4. To a huge fan of the franchise, its a 5/5. To any other player I gotta give it a 3. Many people bitch and moan about the game’s repetitive style, while others praise the frantic hack and slash action. By the time you slay your first 100 Yellow Turbans you’ll know if this game is for you. Give it a shot and go in with an open mind, you might just learn some ancient history too. Oh and theres battle pandas too. Battle. Pandas.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- New story telling
- Jin Dynasty
- Conquest Mode
- Fixed a lot of the Characters from 6
What I Dislike:
- Blank Cutscenes
- No Free Mode
- No unique item events
- Skill Tree