I am a Dynasty Warriors Fan, and it is probably the franchise that got me into playing games non-stop (you don’t hear that often). Dynasty Warriors? Yup I’m not going to deny anything I love the franchise. So as far as any criticism given it’s meant out of 100% pure passion for a better game after this because we know these games come out damn near every time you we blink. This isn’t going to be your average review of a Dynasty Warriors Game by the way, oh no this is from a perspective of someone who cares A LOT for the series so let’s start.
Dynasty Warriors 8 (真・三國無双7 known in Japan as Shin Sangokumusou 7) is a Hack n’ Slash video game and the eighth official installment of the Dynasty Warriors series. It is developed by Omega Force and published by Koei. The story is based on the Chinese writer Luo Guanzhong’s historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. With that being said each section Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel is a EXTREMELY long, has a lot of content and each and every Dynasty Warriors Game tries to get that much deeper into doing the Novel justice as far as accuracy.
If you’ve ever played a Dynasty Warriors game you already know what the story is about so explaining exactly what it’s about is quite simple actually in two words “Chinese Unification”. Now that sounds quite simple but the events that finally lead of the the oh so wonderful Unification of China is extremely long a deep. Like said before every Dynasty Warriors Game tries to interpret their version of the Romance of the Three Kingdom’s story and if you’ve played at least two you would know that they are not exactly the same as far a story.
Now as far as Koei goes I’ve notice a lot examples when it comes to the phrase “Having your cake and eating it too”. I’ll explain as far as the Story Category what this means. In Majority of Dw games they have followed the story of the Novel from the Yellow Turbans Rebellion straight to Wu Zhang Plains. In Warriors Orochi 3 since it was 100% fiction they did what ever they want with the story and at the same time introduce the ability to change the story by going “back in time” in order to change the events of a certain battle (example a character dying) in order to change the overall story for a different path and ending. Now as a feature I did not mind that new gimmick because it was different, it didn’t suck and it added replay value to stages you’ve already completed having the ability to play the original version of the stage or the (as they called it) redux version of the stage.
In Dynasty Warriors 8 Koei decided to give every Kingdom a story path that tries to follow what happens in the Novel as closely as they see fit (Like every Dw game before it did). BUT they also decided to do what they did in Warriors Orochi which was allow the player to go back and do certain stages to change the path of the game, history and ultimately the ending. Doing this Koei decided to call it the Hypothetical path of the story. Many characters die during the original path and in order to unlock the Hypothetical path you have to find out what is needed to be done in order to save their lives. This is Koei’s way of recycling an old feature and bringing it back as a new feature just by renaming it. And to me it’s not a bad thing what so ever because all that does is increase dialogue between characters that eventually die or died too early in the game. This also allow Koei to create the ending that they wanted to see in the Hypothetical path since it’s technically 100% fictional. I was interesting to see what they wanted to happen also and in my opinion more entertaining.
The Sound in the game is amazing this section you can’t deny is down right spot on, same thing goes for the Music in this game. Once again Koei has proven to the world that if there’s anything they know how to do correct it’s Music best I’ve heard all generation of gaming to be honest. The Voice acting is actually not bad either compared to past DW games. They have taken a massive improvement since the first Dw game to include VA which was Dw3. Obviously there are some characters that the voice actors either sound like they are trying to hard or just down right cheesy (Zhou Yu, Deng Ai, Zhong Hui, Yue Jin) but overall it isn’t anything that should bother the crap out of someone by any means.
Now if you’ve played any sort of Dynasty Warriors Game you know what the gameplay is about. Square Square Square Square Square Square. With a combination of Triangles between the previously Square. X is to Jump and various of other controls nothing has really changed there. What has changed though are a few tweaks to certain areas of the gameplay that make the experience that much better than majority and/or dare I say all of the previous Dynasty Warriors Games before it.
My most favorite addition is the enhancement to the horse summoning feature, whistling for your horse was introduced back in Samurai Warriors 2 for only two specific characters. Koei realized that this was a great and convenient feature and every warriors game after that every character had the ability summon their horse and that feature became a dedicated button. In Dynasty Warriors 8 not only does the horse come to you with a press of a button but by holding it down makes your character automatically mount the horse, the sequence happens so smooth and fluently that it can only go down as a pro. This can even be done if your character is on the laying on the floor, standing still or running. Of course the speed of your horse catching up with a fast character can cause the horse to fall behind sometimes but it’s nothing to complain about (especially when you obtain the Red Hare) because at the end of the day this is a feature to stay and will be in every Dw game after this.
Another addition to this game (which will probably not make it to games after this) is the Affinity feature. Basically all this does is class all of your weapons into 1 of 3 different categories, Man, Earth or Heaven. It’s basically a rock paper scissors gimmick which basically means if your weapon is a certain affinity while your opponent’s is better or worse decides if you have a advantage or disadvantage against them. If you have an advantage you can do a skill on an opponent call “Storm Rush” which is basically a series of high speed attacks done to your enemy (Once a blue gauge above their ahead it depleted by attacking them). If you have a disadvantage your attacks wouldn’t be able to flinch the enemy, they will have increased attack against your defense and if the enemy does a charge attack a feature called “Variable Counter” or “Switch Counter” can be done, this basically makes your character do a dodging animation followed by a counter attack, it also switches to your secondary weapon. If you and the opponent have the same affinity weapon both of you are just equally match. (Affinity in my opinion was cool but gets stale rather quick, you can tell this is just a giant rock paper scissors gimmick which I know for sure will not make it in future titles”)
Speaking of Secondary weapons, that feature was introduced in Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce and has been in every Dw game ever since. Dynasty Warriors titles (just like horse summoning) have made it a standard. Being able to switch weapons in the middle of battle definitely makes the experience less repetitive to the player. Koei has not increase the amount of moves an individual character can do since Dynasty Warriors 3 (other than jump triangle in Dw4 and grabs introduced in Dw6 which were both removed in Dw7 and replaced with Ex attacks) Jump Triangle attacks have been brought back unfortunately not grab attacks. The point is character’s move’s and combos can be limited when it comes to only using one weapon. The ability to switch weapons makes the it less repetitive yes but using that as an excuse to not further enhance the deepness of an individual move-set in a weapon is not a valid one in my opinion. I would rather skip a game of Dynasty Warriors no introducing any new characters for the sake of a more robust move-set given to the 77 characters that the game in right now.
Since we are talking about move-sets we mind as well talk about the Characters the move set’s belong to shall we? This game has a total of 77 characters this the most in a single Dynasty Warriors game (not including the Warriors Orochi series obviously since that was a cross-over). One of the greatest pros about Dynasty Warriors 8 is that there are 0% clone characters which I applaud them for that took some effort since there has been clones in every Dynasty Warriors game since 2. For people who don’t know what clone characters are it is basically 2 two more characters with the same move-set with only a slight difference in there move-set which was slightly annoying back in Dw2-5 but Dw6 had so many clones it was ridiculous and Dw7 had it’s fair share of clone characters. With Dynasty Warriors 8 having 77 unique move-set to choose from this definitely gives you a reason to AT LEAST try out this character because you know he/she has a unique move-set (unless your secondary weapon was that characters weapon but even then you still have an ex attack and musou attacks exclusive to that character).
Speaking of more on move sets since Koei really uses this as a selling point that every character has a unique one. And I have to applaud them for the amount of effort they have put into making sure all 77 characters had something cool and unique to them, but it’s not perfect. Obviously with that many characters some will get better treatment than others and with that being said some character’s move-sets are so deep if they could have their own game and it would be fun. Example Xu Shu, he in my opinion is probably one of the most exciting characters to use because of the lone fact that his move-set is just so deep. No other character has the ability to zip-line after a combo towards the enemy to continue combo it makes his overall weapon’s fun factor sky-rocket. In Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires which is the game he debuted in his zip-line mechanic which was extremely foreign to Dw and didn’t really work the way it should, but in Dynasty Warriors 8 it works perfectly.
Now like I said even though every character is unique certain character’s move-set are just way better than others. And one other major examples as far as this complaint is the fact that certain characters can do what I like to called a “Jump Smash Cancel”. This trick basically means when you Jump and press triangle majority of characters do a smash to the floor. But pressing X (which is jump) right when you do the smash allows you to instantly jump back up in the sky and either continue with a different move or rinse and repeat the “Jump Traingle Smash”. Now this is extremely fun to use but not every character that has the ability to “Air Dash” can do it. Out of 77 characters I’ve only found 5 characters that can do it Xu Shu, Zhang He, Zhou Tai, Zhong Hui and Zhu Rong. I’ve came to the conclusion that this “Jump Smash Cancel” has to be a glitch in the characters move-set because there’s no explanation anywhere in the game that even tells you that you can even do this action. This makes those 5 characters’ movesets some of the best movesets I’ve played in the entire game. They need to make this feature a real actually explain the the player how to do it and give it to every character that can Air Dash because at the end of the day this glitch just makes certain characters that can Air Dash but can’t do the “Air Smash Cancel” that less compelling to play in comparison.
I’m not done with the 77 unique characters just yet! I still have more to say. Now even though every single character has a unique move-set (and like said I do appreciate this) not every character is done justice compared to when they where in their prime (In past Dw games). Speaking of Justice one of the main characters that suffer from this Ma Chao, I like to call this “sloppy second move-sets”. Characters they I think suffer from sloppy 2nd move-sets are Ma Chao, Sun Quan, Guan Suo. Wei Yan, Guan Ping, Xiao Qiao and Jia Xu. These following characters previously were clones with other character in the series, the other characters they shared a clone move-set with obviously got their own unique weapon and move-sets that define them 100%. The clone move-sets that were created for multiple characters in the first place did not have a true identity to one character just multiple characters combined into one move-set. Example Ma Chao’s current move set contains left over attacks from Zhao Yun and Jiang Wei, the move-set given to him doesn’t define him as a character entirely because when I use certain moves that debuted in another character’s move-set it makes me feel like i should be using that character instead. It doesn’t help that Warriors Orochi 3 tried to de-clone these move-sets (and suceeded) and then for Dw8 they go back to their inial sloppy 2nd move-set. I have no clue in the world why they just could use their move-sets from that game! Obviously you created them for the lone purpose to make every character feel unique! Why would you bring back the Jump Triangle attack animations which were clearly taken from Warriors Orochi 3 but not bring the full de-cloned move-sets for those characters!? I makes absolutely no sense to me and pisses me off the most.
I feel I have moved away a from review and into a rant but I don’t care I’ll be back to review mode in a minute, let’s talk about the DLC for a second. Now if you remember back in Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires DLC was free (fair because the content that they were charging for didn’t deserve to be paid for and this was there 1st Dynasty Warriors game to have DLC in it so they made it free fair enough). But at the time Dw6e came out Koei thought that Downloadable content was suppose to be free, this continued for one more game (Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2). Once Koei realized that companies out there charge for their DLC (like Capcom especially for outfits in games like Street Fighter) Koei thought “Hey! we should do that too! I mean look! we have outfits from Dw1 straight to Dw6!” So when Dynasty Warriors 7 came out whoop-dee-doo! DLC outfits for Dw6 characters! then Dw5 outfits! then Dw4 outfits! then Dw3 outfits! Then when Warriors Orochi 3 came out “Hey look Koei fans! Dw6 outfits! Dw5 outfits! Dw4 outfits! and you have to pay for them again!” Now in Dynasty Warriors 7 Xtreme Legends and Empires at least they didn’t make you pay for them again if you already purchased then in Dw7, but still I find that as a cheap way to make money off your fans every game. Giving them the same outfits over and over again was an extremely lazy attempt to created original content (and don’t bring up joke outfits and weapons). And Dynasty Warriors 8 is no difference people DLC outfits for Dw6, Dw5, Dw4. I just don’t know why they can’t figure out that this is bad. As far as other DLC they’ve offered was DLC weapons and stages now these were ok I can respect it a little bit. But at the end of the day I’m a trophy whore and like any trophy whore and even half of regular gamers we need some sort of trophy dlc pack to go with it. Playing the DLC stages feel empty with out something to fight for. I paid you for these stages at least give me some fucking bronze trophies. And as far as DLC weapons it’s the same cycle since DLC weapons were introduced in Dw7, a DLC weapon would come out and it would have a unique move set, then in the later titles it’s given to one of the characters as a decloned moveset with a couple of modifications to it. So the fact of the matter is they are doing that once again here, Dynasty Warriors 8 DLC weapons have unique move-sets but instead of giving them to cloned characters (since there aren’t any in this game) they are giving it to the to the sloppy 2nd characters like Guan Suo and Xiao Qiao for example. So nothing has really changed.
Now the return of Free Mode is very welcome, hop in, select your stage, select your character and play. It works exactly how it did back in the day and since this game has a wide variety of stages ranging from regular to hypothetical and very easy to chaos difficulty the replay value is definitely in this mode for die hard classic players. Splitscreen local and Online co-op can also be done in this mode also so that’s good to.
Now since Dynasty Warriors 7 came out it seems that Koei doesn’t realize that if you give us just Story Mode and Free Mode we are satisfied but apparently they don’t understand that because in Dw7 they introduced another mode called “Conquest” which was basically a watered down Empire Mode. They feel that there is a need for an extra mode that we’ve never heard of just so they can advertise it. Ambition mode is basically the a mode where the player is given the ultimate task to create a social base for peasants called the “Tongquetai Tower” and to make so the “Emperor Xian” visits it. To raise the tower’s status, the player must partake in three different kind of battles; Skirmish battles which give materials to construct the tower, Raid battles which increase fame, and Large-scale battles which can recruit new partners. Players start out with the weapon shop as their sole base facility. More can be added or expanded upon as the town gradually becomes populated with people. So in a nutshell your in a Monster Hunter-like closed-in-half-ass-free-roam city where you upgrade crap and level up crap. Once all your crap is maxed out you beat Ambition Mode.. yay.. After that you’ll never want to go on another battle within Ambition Mode ever again. Once you upgrade everything necessary to complete Ambition Mode it’s basically used as a hub to customize your character’s stats and weapons.. that’s it.. (That’s all I use it for now at least and don’t expect any DLC for this mode either).
As far as Dynasty Warriors games goes there’s probably two games other Dw games that outdo this (when it comes to online play) and that is Dynasty Warriors Online and obviously the amazing Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce. I have not played an extensive amount of Dynasty Warriors Online (on account of it’s based off of Dw5 which I hate, it’s on PC which I don’t play dw games on pc and the ps3 version didn’t come outside of JP). But I have played Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce’s Online which that game lives heavily on. If you’ve played Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce (*the correct way* which is with 3 other players you know going through the campaign) YOU KNOW that there was no lag, no dimensional split bullshit, extremely fun and addicting. Let me define what I like to call the “Dimensional Split” and it started in Dw7, continued in Dw7e, Dw7xl and Warriors Orochi 3. What basically happens is online when playing with a online buddy your two games are basically not playing out the same way. If I am fighting Lu Bu and your fighting Lu Bu at the same time what basically happens is the game splits. When I mean by splits is it basically this, if I smack Lu Bu half across the map while your juggling him, on my screen he’s half across the map, on your screen he’s probably still getting juggled by your combo. This basically ends up with two different Lu Bus in two different locations essentially. You have a Lu Bu on the floor getting up ready to fight you on your side and I have one on my side, if I look over at you, your fighting nobody your just attacking nothing and while Lu Bu is in front of me. Same thing for you I’m attack nobody while your fighting Lu Bu on your side. It’s extremely confusing and annoying because this will happen 100% of the time. Both Lu Bus’ health will be the same at all times so if you attack your Lu Bu with a strong attack while mine could be blocking you will still see him taking damage from your partners hits, If I kill my Lu Bu yours will just instantly drop dead and the game will say I got the kill. It essentially destroys the whole purpose of playing cooperatively in the first place. Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce did not have this problem and I have no clue why a PSP port can do it the way it should be done but Dynasty Warriors 7 and 8 can’t (FUN FACT: Dw Strikeforce was based off of Dw6 which didn’t even have online play in the first place!). So playing online even in Dynasty Warriors 8 felt the same was as the previous 4 games with this issue A WASTE OF TIME.
With all of the bitching, ranting and complaining I have done above, Dynasty Warriors 8 is by far not bad at all don’t get me wrong, as a matter of fact this out of the non-spin of Dynasty Warriors Games (Which includes Dw6, Dw7 and Dw8) that came out this generation Dynasty Warriors 8 is the best. The reason it’s has so much unique content in it compare to Dw6 and Dw7 is the fact that they barely made any changes to the Dw7 engine. To the naked eye couldn’t tell you the difference between Dw7 and Dw8 graphically. And the fact that this is the case is technically a bad thing but at the same time Koei spent majority on there time actually trying to make a good game since such little time was made modifying the engine. Every Dynasty Warriors Game before it has felt a bit different from it’s predecessor (as far as fighting mechanics goes) Dw7 and Dw8 feel exactly the same. If there is one thing that has plague Dynasty Warriors games since Dw2 is frame-rate issues, Dw8 runs as 60 fps but it drops dramatically as soon as it get extremely chaotic on screen (Dw8’s frame-rate problem is actually worse than Dw7 and was even worse on the Xbox 360 version requiring a software patch weeks later!). At the end of the day if there is anything I enjoyed the most with this game is the thing you can tell they focused on and that’s the characters. The characters they actually spent time on is worth buying the game alone. Even though there are still quite a hand full of characters that still don’t do that character justice (as far as move-set) I highly doubt that is going to stay the same in the recently announced Dw8XL
+ 0% Clone Move-Sets (And for the characters Koei actually spent time on it’s the best version of that Character in any Dw)
+ Best OST in a Video Game I’ve heard this entire Generation of Gaming (And the game has custom soundtracks)
+ The Longest and Most Robust Single Player Story seen in any Dynasty Warriors Game
+ Summoning your Horse and being able to auto-mount is a pro by itself it cures lots of transportation issues past Dw games have been plagued with and it increases the overall pace of the game in general
+ 4 Musou Attacks makes the game feel less repetitive when you have options on how to finish off an enemy or enemies
- Frame Rate issues
- Online Mode is still on the Dw7 net-code which causes “dimensional split” between online players
- Even though there are 0% clones a hand full of characters are either boring to play as or doesn’t to them “justice”
- Even though there are 4 musou attacks some musou attacks either don’t work correctly majority of the time (Zhang Bao’s Circle attack), are just a generic aerial smash (Guan Sou) or are just plain useless (Jia Xu’s aerial musou)
- The Affinity System (In my opinion) feels like a lazy attempt to try and bring innovation to a battle (When all it did was create an annoyance to a great combo chain I was doing with a character and causing frustration when fighting 2 or more people with different Affinities)
So the final question is do I think that this is “The Definitive Dynasty Warriors”........yes and no
Compared to past Dynasty Warriors it can considered the definitive version to date
But the Definitive Dynasty Warriors is not here yet because just like Dw6 and Dw7, Dw8 still has growing pains Koei is still changing things with characters as far as move-sets and weapons via DLC or expansion games and the have certain major issues that like frame-rate that just can’t exist in such a chaotic franchise. But I will give it the title as the Best Dynasty Warriors Game so far.