Dynasty Warriors 7
Dynasty Warriors 7 review: A brilliant offering by Tecmo Koei
Dynasty Warriors 7 is a brilliant game. It's a confident step forward in the franchise for Tecmo Koei and Omega Force, condensing the core franchise values into a package that is elegant in execution and eminently playable.
- Just about everything in this game.
- A clean, mature and refined title in a series that is starting to get some real attention, even in the West.
- It's going to be difficult for Tecmo Koei to top this.
- Dynasty Warriors 8 will need to be very different.
These games are always a love-or-hate affair, but if you've ever enjoyed a Warriors game in its 11-odd year history, Dynasty Warriors 7 is a must buy.
Of course, by now you'd hope Omega Force knew what it was doing with this franchise, but for all the silly talk in the press of button mashing and cookie-cutting, Dynasty Warriors 7 is a very modern game. It can be broken down into two broad sections — first up is a story mode, in which players participate in an unfolding political and military drama between four major powers through the especially chaotic Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history.
Previous games in the series involved selecting one character, and playing through a few short scenarios with cut scenes breaking up the action. It worked, sure, but it wasn't necessarily cohesive. This time around, you'll be controlling various heroes — depending on who was important to your side in each battle — and the overarching campaign is quite long. It means the story is more epic and less character-driven, which makes it much easier to follow and understand for the uninitiated.
One of the great appeals of the Warriors games has been participating in historic battles, but one of the great complaints that could be levelled at the series has been it's done a poor job in explaining the context of those battles, meaning you'd need to hit up Wikipedia or (heaven forbid) a book to understand the importance of what is going on on-screen. The new narrative structure effectively fixes this — Dynasty Warriors 7 is a game you can genuinely learn something from.
This is backed up by a superb encyclopaedia, which goes to great lengths to explain the history of the Three Kingdoms in an interesting and accessible manner.
The second main game mode is the Conquest mode. Ancient China is broken up into a series of hexagonal sections (a huge number of them). Each hexagon features a scenario — be that combat or a city to spend some downtime in. Slowly but surely, one hex at a time, you'll conquer China, upgrading your weapons and improving your skills. This pseudo-RPG scenario can be played online.
It's absolutely massive, and can get very, very difficult. It's also more 'game' than the story mode, with little emphasis placed on character or plot. Credit has to go to Omega Force for creating two utterly different ways to play on the one disc.
On the battlefield, Dynasty Warriors 7 is a finely tuned machine. In a stark contrast to the brutality of Tecmo Koei's (also very good) Warriors: Legends of Troy, Dynasty Warriors 7's swordplay is an elegant experience. The weapons are light and graceful, placing more emphasis on the dance of melee than the wet impact of cutting through flesh.
There are a lot of weapon categories to choose from, from basic swords to more exotic double-bladed spears. In each battle, you'll take two different weapons into the fray. The length of combos for individual weapons is relatively small for a Warriors game — generally not going past the fourth button press. But changing weapons is in itself an attack, so stringing a series of combos and then weapon changes together is the secret to success.
As usual for the Warriors games, the enemies come at you in huge swarms. In one particular mission I was tasked with guarding a bridge. Two minutes later I'd unlocked the KO 1000 enemies in one mission trophy. It can get hectic. It's exciting when that happens. Just as often you'll be focusing in on whoever is leading the drones. These leaders/champions/bosses have quite large health bars, and it can take a while to whittle them down if you're not smart about how you fight them. Thankfully, with five difficulty levels to choose from, no-one should get too frustrated playing this, though the challenge is certainly there for those who look for it.
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