Dynasty Warriors has been around since its debut on the first Playstation console in 1997. Since then, the franchise has seen countless entries and spin-offs on various consoles. So it really is no surprise that another DW game can be found amongst the Playstation Vita’s launch lineup. Omega Force is taking their classic hack ‘n slash formula and adding the handheld’s various capabilities into the mix. Does the implementation of touch and movement-based controls improve or hinder the Dynasty Warriors experience that its fans have come to know and love?
Find out by taking a look at what is HOT and what is NOT below.
I’m sure all of you know how the combat in Dynasty Warriors games works. Spam square continuously while throwing in a triangle now and then for good measure. It’s a simplistic combat system, but it has worked for the series this far. Now the combat experience is much more interactive. Sure, you can still use the analog stick and face buttons to decimate thousands of enemies on foot or from horseback, but there is more fun to be had from tapping and moving the Vita. Almost every aspect of the game takes advantage of at least one of the Vita’s various unique input options.
The Musou system is back, providing characters the ability to unleash devastating attacks after they’ve filled the Musou Gauge. By simultaneously tapping on the left and right side of the Vita’s front touchscreen, the Musou attack will be unleashed onto the hoards of enemies. If your character happens to be holding a giant hammer, then flicking the Vita forward in synchronization with each hit will deal extra damage. The Musou attack for dual swords has the player swiping the screen left and right to slash in that direction. This interactive special attack feature presents itself in many ways on different parts of the portable device depending on the currently equipped weapon.
In terms of offensive options, the touch controls are also utilized in Duels and Sudden Encounters. Duels have the main character fighting one-on-one with a “boss” character. By flicking left and right attacks and repels can be pulled off. Holding your finger on the screen is used to break the opponent’s guard. It definitely mixes things up at the end of long battles filled with spamming square. Sudden Encounters work just like the random enemy attacks seen in other RPGs while walking around. When one of these initiates, the player will have to follow on-screen instructions to win the encounter. For example, if sorcerers suddenly descend upon the player, then they’ll have to swipe the screen to destroy the incoming projectiles. If a bunch of spearmen come charging, the game will prompt the player to tap each one repeatedly until they’ve been dispatched. Just like the Duels, these little segments help break up the pace of the game and definitely add a nice touch (literally).
Touch controls aren’t just limited to offensive options however. By filling the Break Gauge, the option to take over a base will become available. You don’t have to even be at the base physically. Tap one of the bases that needs to be captured on the mini-map and you’ll perform a Direct Break. Differentiating itself from the normal hostile takeovers, bases captured via Direct Break can not be taken back by the enemy, making this method useful for the more strategic players.
For a portable entry, Dynasty Warriors Next offers plenty of mode options. There’s the standard Campaign Mode which allows players to experience The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the story that spawned the series. The character being controlled is selected for the player and appears in cutscenes throughout the story, much like you’d expect. You’ll start off fighting in the Yellow Turban Rebellion where Zhang Fei and Liu Bei are the first to be put into battle. Over the course of the campaign new territories will open up to invade and strategems can be applied to further boost different attributes in order to tip the odds even more in your favor. Conquest is very similar with the primary difference being that you get to select your own character and unite the land under your rule.
Coalition Mode is the choice for those looking to work cooperatively with other DW players. Up to 4 players can jump into the action and work through challenges. Equipment is predetermined depending on the officer chosen. Also, resurrections are possible as long as the number next to the heart on-screen isn’t at “0”. If the counter hits zero, then it’s game over the next time any person dies. Playing with 4 others via ad-hoc or infrastructure mode increases the entertainment and the death count.
Gala Mode contains a handful of side activities. Steeplechase uses tilting and shaking to control a horse. A destination will be set as well as a timer. Tilting steers the horse and shaking makes it jump. Throw in the masses of enemy bodies that will slow down your horse if hit, and you’ll see the amount of precision required in order to come out on top with a great time. Then there’s Musou Snapshot which utilizes the front and rear cameras to make either epic or silly pictures. Effects can be added such as flames or lightning. Players can also replace the faces of iconic characters with their own. It is a fun little mode worth messing around in a few times. The remaining mini-games include Bastion, Marksman and Calligrapher. However, these won’t be unlocked from the start.
Finally, there’s Edit Mode. Here’s where you’ll find character creation. Here’s what you can tweak: name, gender, face, body, armor, motion, voice and abilities. The options are decent to begin with, but after spending some time in the campaign, even more items unlocked for the created character. There are 100 empty slots – more than I believe anyone will ever use – to fill up with your own creations (assuming you have the memory space).
Perfect for On-the-Go
Console games are usually designed to be played in long intervals. Portable titles are usually designed to do well in short sittings. Dynasty Warriors Next does well being played bit by bit. The size of this Dynasty Warriors is somewhat compressed so that it is possible to dice up 1,000 enemies and clear campaign missions within a half hour time frame. That’s definitely a good thing. Whether you’re stuck in a car or on a plane, this Dynasty Warriors title will keep you busy with one of the handful of modes.
Dynasty Warriors Next isn’t on par with Uncharted: Golden Abyss, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t visually pleasing. The officers stand out amongst the grunt clones and the special attacks are usually full of colored electricity effects. While the environments themselves may not be too varied, they look sharp in most areas. Shadows from characters, structures and the land itself also lay nicely on the ground. The combination of these provides a visual experience that meets most graphical expectations of the system at this point.
It’s almost not even worth mentioning at this point. Every time a Dynasty Warriors game makes its way out onto the market, it’s always met with the same criticism: monotonous gameplay. Spamming two face buttons can quickly lose its appeal after you’ve hacked and slashed through your hundred thousandth enemy. While touch and motion controls help add more than some previous DW titles, the core gameplay is still there… and it is still repetitive. Unfortunately, the Vita installment doesn’t revolutionize or expand on the formula outside the Vita-specific controls, which some may find gimmicky to begin with.
Dynasty Warriors games are known for the massive amounts of enemies that litter the screen awaiting the taste of your blade. The Vita does a decent job of filling the screen with opposition, but opposing forces will just randomly appear in groups right in front of the player. This is almost always the case when taking over a base where a specified amount of enemies must be dispatched. So, for example, if 300 individuals must be taken out to capture a base, then they will continue to spawn arms-length away until that number is reached. The second the number drops down to zero, all remaining enemies will suddenly disappear and be replaced with your own forces. This isn’t a huge deal, but it still doesn’t look right.
Dynasty Warriors debuts on the Vita with much success. The amount of content coupled with the more interactive gameplay makes Dynasty Warriors Next an entertaining game to play in bursts and, sometimes, during longer sessions. While the game suffers from pop-in and the repetition issue present in its predecessors, long-time fans won’t view that as much of deterrent, if at all. The formula, while not brave and bold, has a following for a reason. It may not be innovative or complex, but it works for working through a sea of enemies. Next makes a strong debut on the Vita system and is sure to please the fans looking for a game to pick up at launch.
[Editor’s Note: Dynasty Warriors Next was reviewed on the Playstation Vita platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Dynasty Warriors Next Review,