Review: Dynasty Warriors 8
Every time I went to write this review, I would go back and play more of the game (which is a great problem to have). This is the best Dynasty Warriors title ever released.
For the uninitiated, Dynasty Warriors is based on one of the 4 Chinese classic works of literature called “Romance of the Three Kingdoms.” It is a story based on part history, part myth, and part legend of the historical period known as The Three Kingdoms of China. It takes place in 200 AD when the Han Dynasty falls and three factions try to reunite the land. Levels in this game are framed around the many battles that took place between the factions. You take control of one character in each level and proceed to demolish everything in your path.
Dynasty Warriors 8 offers 4 full story modes for the Wu Shu Wei and Jin Dynasties. There is also an extra story mode with side characters that don’t belong to the main factions. Each story mode is approximately 12 levels long, spanning dozens of years. The main story mode follows the source material and battles end the way they are supposed to. During the normal battles there are optional objectives that you can complete which usually go towards unlocking side levels. Once you have completed all of the optional objectives and side levels, you are then granted access to the story mode’s hypothetical route of levels. It’s total fan service, complete with characters who should have died normally and even vintage music from the previous games. When DW3’s battle music kicked in I was stoked.
This installment of the game includes some 77 characters, with new ones joining every faction. My favorite new-comer was Han Dang, the mild mannered Wu officer who served three generations of the family and thirsts for fame. His dialogue is usually him dwelling on the fact that he is largely unnoticed, and I got a kick out of his Musou attacks (He can get things done). The story mode attempts to get you to try out the majority of them as well, as most levels allow for a certain set of different characters to be chosen in each. Not a single move set is cloned, allowing for that many EX weapons and different styles of play. You’re also able to unlock skills and level them up mid-game. By doing certain tasks like killing an officer on horseback or with low health, you can level up buffs that can be applied towards all characters. It’s a great system that focuses your mind on defeating enemies in particular ways rather than just rushing through each level. The two weapon system from the previous installment returns, but this time it has an additional rock-paper-scissors gimmick attached. This is referred to as Commander Affinity. Each enemy will have an affinity, be it Heaven, Earth or Man. If you use an Earth weapon on an enemy with the Man affinity, you can hack away at a sort of shield they have and eventually execute a “Storm Rush” which is a multi-hitting attack. If you have a weaker affinity, the game will give you an on screen cue (a blue light animation) before an enemy officer executes their Storm Rush on you. Instead, if you switch weapons during this cue you can execute a “Switch Counter” which is a strong counterattack. If there weren’t enough powerful extra attacks to perform, they brought back the Rage meter from DW5. This meter grows like a slower Musou bar, and when activated with R3 allows for an extra fast and strong attack / Musou. Rage Musou attacks allow for combos in the hundreds and they are sometimes jaw-dropping.
DW8’s new mode is called Ambition Mode. It is a sort of city building sim where you are obsessed with building the “Tongquetai Tower” so that the emperor will come visit your city. This is accomplished by fighting smaller skirmish type levels that give you materials to upgrade with. It’s very grindy and isn’t really as up to snuff as the normal story modes. It is a little more fun with someone from online joining you, but the experience isn’t that exciting.
I’ve put some serious hours into this game and wanted to get a good understanding of what it does well. All four story modes offer unique perspectives and types of stories. You’ll kick yourself when an officer’s untimely death could have been prevented because you weren’t there. This leads you to playing the level again and making sure that your favorite strategist doesn’t get struck by a stray arrow. You’ll constantly be reading battle updates to make sure you can thwart that fire attack or make sure the main base doesn’t fall. The title offers a good level of difficulty until you get higher level weapons, then I would suggest that you up it. With the built in replay-ability to unlock new weapons and levels, it’s quite easy to time travel back to 200 AD and realize you’ve been there for 4 hours straight. Pick this one up at retail instead of downloading it though… it’s 20 GB!
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:
- Storm counters
- New characters and no cloned movesets
- Hypothetical story routes
- Fan service
What I Dislike:
- More Guan kids?
- Ambition Mode wears thin