Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends Review

March 5, 2013

/ by Tin Salamunic

Developer(s): Omega Force
Publisher(s): Koei
Platform(s): PS3
Release Date: February 26, 2013

A little over a decade ago, the Dynasty Warriors games were my go-to franchise for reliving the retro days of brainless, albeit therapeutic, button mashing. Despite their simplicity, slicing though hordes of enemies with extravagant Wushu maneuvers was exhilarating. As the current generation rolled in, the series became somewhat stagnant; introducing meager changes to an already barren formula and with so many yearly permutations, I lost track…and eventually interest. It’s been years since I picked up a Dynasty Warriors title; so going into this updated expansion to DW7 evoked a certain sense of nostalgia. I can’t say that my expectations were high, but to my surprise, Koei’s latest is a superb little gem for fans reminiscing the days of vintage brawlers.

Dynasty Warriors doesn’t make the best first impression. One might cringe at the underwhelming aesthetics and archaic design decisions, but its shortcomings are only skin deep. If you relish the gameplay style of Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, and the likes, then Dynasty Warriors is a welcome trip down memory lane. It’s the perfect title to play when you just want to shut off your brain and indulge in over-the-top martial arts action. It may lack the gameplay complexity of most modern titles, but that’s precisely the point. It’s as close to traditional arcade classics as you can get.

Without any grandiose introductions or even a proper narrative set-up, you’re given a brief overview of the game mechanics and you’re off conquering provinces and empowering your kingdom. There are several campaigns to choose from within the main Empire mode but they’re all essentially land grabs. While the game primarily relies on hack n’ slash button mashing, there are small strategic elements sprucing up the action. War council meetings allow you to propose kingdom policies and negotiations with various kingdoms can result in partnerships and strategic advantages. While on the battlefield, keeping an eye on your map is key to conquering the playing field. As you slice your way though various strongholds, prioritizing your targets is imperative in order to avoid getting swarmed by the opposition. With each battle, you’re mowing through wave after wave of enemies until you face off with base leaders and generals. Maps are large open areas and glowing red flags indicate enemy bases or infiltrations, so figuring out the order of attack/defense requires some planning. The action is fast and fun but the tasks are tepidly varied. You always find yourself running around open areas slaughtering everything in your sight without much diversity, so it’s best to play Dynasty Warriors a few minutes at a time.

Since its fourth entry, Dynasty Warriors has offered a rather robust character editor. Sure, it might not be as deep as the Sims franchise, but the variety of clothing, weapons, accessories, and fighting styles is rather staggering in this latest entry. There seems to be an endless spectrum of options and seeing your custom avatar rip enemies to shreds is a real treat. As your character advances you gain access to stratagems, which are attribute cards that may be used during battle. They act as temporary boosters giving you an edge in battle. Some provide faster speed or healing powers, while others implement defensive tactics and allow for upgrades of catapult bases and weaponry. While the strategic elements offer a subtle distraction from the otherwise manic button pounding, they’re not enough to disguise the aging gameplay formula. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing faulty with a title focusing on quick thrills and all-out action, but considering the series’ long running tradition, it would be nice to see some changes, particularly in the visual department.

Dynasty Warriors isn’t necessarily ugly, just unbelievably plain. Character models and uniforms look great, but the environments are frighteningly barren and repetitive. The menus remind me of 90’s PC games and seeing some of the textures close up is nauseating. Luckily, the game runs incredibly smooth even with hundreds of characters on the screen. As with previous titles, the soundtrack is superb. Fast paced guitar riffs match the nonstop action perfectly and the Japanese voice acting provides some cultural authenticity.

At 40$ you can’t really go wrong with Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends if you’re in the mood for some frantic action, but if you’ve been following the series over the years, don’t expect anything new. Dynasty Warriors is a great series that’s overshadowed by its own lack of polish and variety. The developers should spend a little more time on each entry instead of rushing so many nearly identical releases each year. But despite its shortcoming, Dynasty Warriors continues to provide some of the best classic arcade action on current gen consoles.    
Final Score “Best Entry in the Series” 7.5
The game is a generation behind in the visuals department. While the characters and uniforms look fantastic, the environments are extremely bland and repetitive.
The perfect game to play when you just want to indulge yourself in some brainless nonstop action. It's fast, it's fun, but it can also get a little repetitive if played for more than a few minutes at a time.
Dynasty Warriors is incredibly rich in content. From the robust character creator to the strategic elements spicing up the action. At the end of the day, however, it all comes down to button mashing and I wish a little more variety was added to this aging gameplay formula.
Heavy metal guitar riffs and authentic voice acting…what more could you want?!

Review by Tin Salamunic

Tin Salamunic is the founder of The Game Scouts. He is a Video Game Journalist during the day and illustrator by night. He's been obsessed with video games since the early NES days, collecting every major system and game on the market. Video games are the reason he pursued the illustration career and he hopes to be creative director for a video game company one day. All Artciles by Tin. 

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