It can't be as an eighth installment, or should I say _remake_? After all, the essence of the DW franchise has been to bring history to life, albeit through the use of exaggerated weaponry and eccentric characters. Always based on 'The Romance of the Three Kingdoms' written by Luo Guanzhong, Dynasty Warriors follows the separate factions carve a path through ancient China, in an attempt to 'quell the chaos' and 'bring peace to the land'. Of course, most gamers familiar with Koei's games will be aware of the plot and genre by now, thanks to constant retelling and less than satisfying inclusions... 8 see's little invention - the return of 'Free Mode' and unnecessary Zuo Ci, the creation of 'Ambition Mode', several characters and weapon system. So the main question, are either of DW8's backtracks and new editions worth your attention?
Romance of the Three-.... Four Kingdoms
Wei, Wu & Shu have always been the main three kingdoms which the DW games have focused on. However in recent editions, the kingdom who would eventually unite the land under one banner, Jin, makes its appearance. Koei makes little to no effort in making Jin's officers likeable or relatable. Full of young kids who were initially led by the great Sima Yi, they are made out to be a ragtag band of rehash characters. Whilst its hero's disappoint, its inclusion (because of its importance) is still a step forward in historical accuracy.
Wei's campaign is far more down to earth. As the blue team marches through each battle, led by the almighty Cao Cao, a ruthless and ambitious man, who converts enemy officers as quickly as he beheads others. Li Dian and Yue Jin have been stylised, one a confused, curly haired mystery wielding what seems to be a lawnmower. The other a quiet chump with hooks. Go figure. Nothing changes the fact that the intentions of Wei are made out to look harsh and cold... as usual and its Officers hollow and lacking any real dedicated lines.
Offer little but the squealing of the Sun family. Sun Jian, Dead, Sun Ce, Dead, Sun Quan, WIMP, Sun Shang Xiang, Trophy Wife. Like, Jin, they are made out to be a group of youngsters who haven't a clue. Like Wei though, they also get 2 new playable characters in the form of Han Dang - the only person who actually resembles that of a Chinese Warrior (not a Westernised piece of plastic) and Lu Su, a new smarty pants. Without doubt, the biggest change to this faction would be the 'correct' way to pronounce its names - Sun Quan is now Sun Schwarng, Taichi Ci is now Tai Shut Sut and Zhou Yu is Jo yu. Whether these new pronunciations are accurate is one thing, but if they are in fact correct? Its just plain embarrassing it took 8 games to figure it out..
As usual, are the saviors of the world. Who are all about helping the people and benevolence. All historical snide moves and wrong doings hidden away just as before and warriors being capable of ludicrously over the top feats. That guy on the front cover? Zhao Yun, has been the poster boy for 6 of the 8 games. Why? he supposedly rode behind enemy lines to rescue a baby who would one day take up the shu banner, and drop it just as fast. Ma Chao gets the same treatment, banging on about justice and what not, when in reality he kidnapped innocent women and children. But I guess they forgot these little details... for an eighth time.
There are 2 main new editions to the combat system. Now, players can equip varying types of weapons suited to their characters physique or move-set. For example, a skinny character will likely only have skill (varying between 1 and 4 stars) in swift weapons like daggers and swords as opposed to heavy spears and maces. The other change is a rock, paper, scissor type game. The weapons (which can have 3 tiers of combat effectiveness, more moves, and up to 4 skill slots to improve or alter battle such as poison, gold accumulation etc) now have one of 3 different 'affinities'
- Man (Red) advantage over Heaven, disadvantage over Earth
- Earth (Green) advantage Man, disadvantage over Heaven
- Heaven (Blue) advantage over Earth, disadvantage over Man
Cooperative play is vaguely ok, with the double musou attacks, horses can now jump and are much smoother in (dis)mounting. No arrow attacks, mo musou charging. Arbalests can attack you regardless of where you are or what direction they are aiming (annoying) and areas set aflame or in the way of archer fire, deplete your health for a set amount which cannot be restored until you reach safety. This is both fairly realistic (fire) and equally silly (arrows).
This mode didn't interest me at all because it seemed to be a desperate attempt at keeping players in game. My suspicions were confirmed upon seeing the achievements which are mostly about this particular mode. Basically, you own a spot of land which must be built up to standard so that the emperor may pay it a visit. You dawdle about waiting for irrelevant battles where you collect materials for building. Thats pretty much it. Boring.
This isn't the worst DW game. By a fair bit. But it still hasn't improved anywhere near enough to warrant any sort of acclaim. Dynasty Warriors 3 was a decent step up from the well received 2, and 4 was on the way up also, however after 5, and several spin offs (xtreme legends, empires) the series suffered and became stagnant. 8 doesn't offer much more than hollow gameplay and over the top antics.. antics that looks far more Japanese than Chinese. Koei are Japanese, but still...