Jun 22, 2011

[Games] Dynasty Warriors 7 (PS3)

Dynasty Warriors 7 (PS3)My partner and I are major fans of button-mashing local cooperative games. I guess we just like the generally simpler goals of such games that put more emphasis on the story and the cheese factor instead of making gameplay so complex that it crosses the line into being intimidating. In that regard I suppose we're pretty easy to please from a gaming perspective, although good local cooperative play games are somewhat few and far between on consoles like the PlayStation 3.

I suppose it's somewhat understandable. Your average gamer spends most of his time playing on his console alone, thus the easiest way for him or her to find other players to play with is to go online. Gone are the days that players routinely meet at a friend's house to play together. More often than not people just utilize whatever online options the game / console supports and then they go from there.

The Dynasty Warriors series has certainly been a guilty pleasure of are over the years. They practically invented the crazy button-mashing bonanza genre for more "modern" consoles. Although when you think about it, these games probably trace their origins back to classic titles like Double Dragon, Streets of Rage and Golden Axe. And that's never a bad thing.

Dynasty Warriors 7 is the latest (and potentially the last) edition in Koei's long-running hack-and-slash game series released for the PS3 and the Xbox 360. Like previous editions, the game is roughly based on The Romance of the Three Kingdoms written by Luo Guanzhong. This marks the tenth year that the franchise has been existence.

Like the past games, Dynasty Warriors 7 features a variety of modes for the player to explore. The old Musou mode is now Story mode and here the player gets to follow the destiny of a particular faction - namely Wei, Wu, Shu and now Jin, which is a new addition for this game. It's no longer possible to have a second player join in the action for Musou mode, but in exchange you now get a much more expanded view of the whole story from the perspective of each faction. Thus instead of a truncated 5-6 stage battle per character, you instead follow the progression of the story as a whole across numerous stages, each time being put in control of a particular character who was pivotal for the battle in question.

Photo of the traditional site of Chibi, south ...Image via WikipediaThe cut scenes have gotten a lot better this time around. Apart from the added benefit of the cut scenes now having more seamless transitions to the actual combat mode, they also feature much better animation including improved character expressions. Before they always felt like masks of some sort and this time they actually respond to what's going on. And given you're now pretty much following almost all of the story of the original book, there's a lot of action to be had indeed.

There's also Conquest mode, which is similar to the play style in Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires and replaces the old Free mode. Again you have China divided into a significant number of hexagonal tiles, each representing a battle that you need to complete. Each tile will reward you with stats bonuses for your equipped character, new weapons, new guardian animals or additional characters that you can use. Conquest mode is available for local cooperative play for up to two players and for online options as well.

One other bonus to the game system is a greater emphasis on weapons. Each character can be equipped with up to two weapons with different abilities and fighting styles and you can acquire new weapons during combat or at merchants and other dealers available in certain towns. You can also purchase upgrades for your weapons known as Seals that can be equipped for bonuses during combat.

Fighting style is largely the same. You're going to mash your basic attack button (square) mixed in with stronger attacks (triangle) and even a weapons switch attach (R1). The game still has the old musou super attack, but it's now represented by much smaller bars that you eventually earn multiple charges for. Thus you can have more than 3 Musou charges stored at any one time and then you can trigger them in succession, which is pretty cool. And with so many characters now available, the fighting can get pretty insane.

Of course like any longtime Dynasty Warriors player, I have my gripes about the game. I hate how Story Mode is strictly single-player now. I miss being able to manually charge up my Musou bar outside of killing enemies and collecting power-ups. And I miss the little touches like the archery towers having value apart from being somewhere to climb up. And I miss there being clear-cut missions that you can accomplish per Conquest stage for additional experience / fame points - they're still sort of there, but now you don't know what they are.

On the whole, this is definitely one of the best Dynasty Warriors games to date with the most characters, the greatest replay value and a pretty challenging tiered weapons system that gives the game a nice degree of flexibility. My partner and I have been devoting a lot of time to playing the game and if you like these types of games, then I'm sure you will as well. It gets 4.5 crazy guardian animals fighting by your side out of a possible 5.

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