"With better visuals, tighter gameplay, and more diversity…Dynasty Warriors 8 is unwaveringly the most refined and most impressive DW offering to date!"
I’ve always admired Dynasty Warriors’ faithfulness to the waning brawler genre. Tecmo managed to keep the aging button-mashing mechanics relevant through three generations without coalescing with the changing industry tenors. Consequently, this lead to derivative sequels and critical backlash but with their latest entry Tecmo hopes to address the series’ consecutive shortcomings. So, is Dynasty Warriors 8 the definitive wuxia experience? Is ‘8’ the new magic number? With better visuals, tighter gameplay, and more diversity…Dynasty Warriors 8 is unwaveringly the most refined and most impressive DW offering to date!
We return to the kingdom of Wei where political and military conflicts are dealt with on the battlefield. The exuberant historical caricatures are as charming as ever and the narrative provides enough cheesy magnetism to keep you invested through the various storylines. The fight for control of China continues in the same loose interpretation of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel, but the faction-based mission structure introduces enough small tweaks to differentiate itself from recent entries. The new what if scenarios affect how missions develop based on character actions during battle. Will you let fellow warriors fall under the enemy sword…or will you rush to their rescue? You can also select different officers before battling instead of being tied to a single character and the story mode can be played cooperatively, both offline and online. Being able to take on thousands of sword wielding warriors with a buddy can be great fun, but the split-screen display makes heated battles infuriatingly disorienting.
"The animations are livelier and each weapon has a greater sense of weight and momentum. A new counter system makes fighting officers more engaging and mounting horses is no longer a hassle."
Dynasty Warriors 8 doesn’t stray far from its ingrained gameplay formula and still offers the same over the top button-mashing extravaganza that made the series popular in the first place. You’re still pounding the same two-button combos and dishing out explosive special moves and you still feel nearly invincible regardless of how many enemies swarm the battleground. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, the battles are very straightforward; you’re running around giant landscapes and fighting off endless hordes of enemy soldiers. Each area has an officer who, while alive, keeps the strength and defense of surrounding soldiers raised. Defeating an officer lets you finish off the remaining enemies quicker and you move on to other areas until you face the stage’s boss. While battling, you can switch between two chosen weapons, each carrying one of the three element attributes: Heaven, Earth, or Man. Knowing when to switch weapons and which element to use against enemies can grant you the upper hand in battle.
It’s not exactly innovative, nor challenging, but that’s precisely the franchise’s appeal. What makes the latest entry so superior is the overall combat smoothness. The animations are livelier and each weapon has a greater sense of weight and momentum. A new counter system makes fighting officers more engaging and mounting horses is no longer a hassle. Dynasty Warriors 8 is a mindless brawler but it doesn’t try to be anything else. It's honest and doesn't set out to please everyone...it knows its audience. This is the type of game you play to unwind and feel like a god…it’s strangely therapeutic.
"Once you’re done slicing your way through the different story modes, you can take on the role of a commander and build up your own camp in the newly added Ambition Mode."
The Dynasty Warriors series has never been known for its visuals pizzas, but the latest installment makes some welcoming changes. Better lighting, better textures, better character models, better framerate…everything is sharper, crisper and better looking than ever before. It may still be years behind most of today’s AAA titles, but considering the on-screen chaos and generally steady performance…DW8 does have its moments.
Once you’re done slicing your way through the different story modes, you can take on the role of a commander and build up your own camp in the newly added Ambition Mode. You start on the bottom, collecting construction materials and recruiting officers as you work your way towards building the great Tonquetai Palace for the Emperor. It’s a fun and welcoming distraction that adds a ton of replay value to the already meaty campaign.
If you didn’t like Dynasty Warriors before, the latest installment probably won’t change your mind. However, if you’re a long-time fan or someone who’s always been curious about this timeless cult classic, then rest assured that Dynasty Warriors 8 is the biggest, most polished, and most fun version in years. I absolutely adore DW8 and I can't stop playing it. We need more publishers like Tecmo who aren't afraid to create games for a niche audience. Now how awesome would it be to see a next-gen remake of the long forgotten Kessen.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Playstation 3