"This game may arguably be the peak of perfection for the Dynasty Warriors franchise. Prepare your button mashing fingers and get your two-liter of Mountain Dew ready, because you've got a lot of game ahead of you."
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition – or, as I like to call it, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Lu Bu, is the most recent addition to the Dynasty Warriors franchise. This game is nothing short of the best in terms of sheer content and face-melting combat action: It is, of course, everything you got in Dynasty Warriors 8 and more – with that “and more” coming in the flavor of several new characters, and what is probably the coolest part, the ability to run through the story mode for the one-man army Lu Bu. This game may arguably be the peak of perfection for the Dynasty Warriors franchise. Prepare your button mashing fingers and get your two-liter of Mountain Dew ready, because you've got a lot of game ahead of you.
I am always skeptical of games released simultaneously on an older and newer console, let alone one with a handheld port. Let me just go ahead and assure you that if you're like me, you can safely set those concerns aside. While the PS4 port of this game contains some minor graphical issues from retexturing the non-Complete Edition version of the game, they can be excused for the amount of work that the rest of the game has put in. As with previous entries in the series, this is an enhanced port of the base game, so in addition to the original content, there is almost half as much again added to it by way of extra missions in Free and Story modes, probably the most important of which being a Lu Bu specific storyline in which you get to play as Lu Bu and his followers. Add in the fact that Ambition mode has been enhanced, the level cap is boosted from 99 to 150, there is a new “Ultimate” difficulty level for the absolute diehard/masochist fans, everyone gets a second EX attack, there are 5 new characters and you have an absolutely ludicrous amount of game packed in there.
"Lu Bu, of course, is the recurring side villain of the series, known for being a godlike foe, and playing as him makes you feel that as soon as you start slaughtering enemies."
To unpack the above for those of you who haven't played DW8, there are several gameplay modes to choose from when you first boot up your game. I should mention here, by the way, a word of caution if you were like me and got a digital download copy of this game as opposed to a physical copy – this game is 24GB. It takes a LONG time to download, unless you've got blazing fast internet. At about 10GB, the game becomes playable, with most features remaining locked except for Lu Bu's story mode, which to be perfectly honest is a lot of game in and of itself and should keep you occupied while the rest of the game downloads. Lu Bu, of course, is the recurring side villain of the series, known for being a godlike foe, and playing as him makes you feel that as soon as you start slaughtering enemies. He starts out much higher level than any of the other characters you will play as, with his weapon affinities and special meters at maximum from the get go. Playing as Lu Bu should not be anywhere near a fair fight for the computer at any point, and quite honestly at lower difficulties the most you ever have to worry about is mobs of important NPCs appearing at once and using their special moves on you in tandem. Story Mode is two player, supporting both couch co-op and online play, which is something I really appreciate in games these days as it so often goes neglected – Player Two can choose from any of Lu Bu's entourage you have unlocked by that point in the game. In addition to Lu Bu's Story Mode, there are entries for all four of the kingdoms at war, as well as the “Other” faction, to which Lu Bu originally belonged. The other major story-based mode is Free Mode, in which a player can choose any character they have unlocked up to that point and play any levels that have been unlocked (accomplished via Story Mode). There are usually new mission objectives for playing the game in Free Mode, which will unlock new weapons and achievements based on how successfully the player completes them.
"Not only does completing these Challenges with top scores unlock weapons for the game, there is an online ranking system so you can flaunt just how great you are at the game to all your friends."
In addition, there are two objective-based Modes, Ambition and Challenge. Challenge Mode has five different challenges to compete in – Rampage (kill as many enemies before time runs out), Bridge Battle (knock as many enemies off of bridges within the time limit), Speed Run (get to the end goal of a level as fast as possible), Arena (fight every character the player has unlocked until they run out of time) and Inferno (defeat all enemies before time runs out). Not only does completing these Challenges with top scores unlock weapons for the game, there is an online ranking system so you can flaunt just how great you are at the game to all your friends. Ambition Mode, though, is unique in that the player picks one character as their main general, and then goes about fighting battles to get resources and allies to build Tongquetai Palace and welcome the emperor to it. This is almost purely a battle grind mode – intended for those players who have done as much of the story as they care to and want to go do something fun with their favorite character for another couple of days.
"The fact that the game allows you to see both the historical endings to each Story Mode as well as the hypothetical endings is practically porn to someone who's a massive Romance of the Three Kingdoms fan."
Quite honestly, if you're a fan of the franchise, you're going to love this game. The gameplay is simple and intuitive – while there are combos to remember, it's nothing on the level of input memory as, say, a Tekken combo, and button mashing can often achieve the same result as remembering combos. The game is beautiful, except when you hit one of the small retexturing glitches. The music is fantastic – it keeps you pumped, it builds the right atmosphere of a truly epic game. The fact that the game allows you to see both the historical endings to each Story Mode as well as the hypothetical endings is practically porn to someone who's a massive Romance of the Three Kingdoms fan. The only true problem I found came as the other side of the coin of a blessing in the new PS4 version, which is that with the enhanced processing power now available, Toei thought they could up the number of enemies on screen at once. In theory, this works, but in situations where there is the maximum number of enemies the game is likely to chug, especially if there are things going on onscreen like fire, or if you initiate a particularly graphics intensive EX move. It doesn't necessarily detract from the gameplay, but it does seem like something that could have been compensated for.
Review by: Adam Seats | Reviewed on: Playstation 4