Oh boy, Dynasty Warriors. You gotta love the game. What I love more are the people that don’t like it, because their gaming likes contradict their views on the game. Certainly the franchise carries a torch for seniority because this is the 7th/8th installment in the core series with two spinoffs for almost every game (Xtreme Legends and Empires) the game still holds true to what the game is known for, Hack ‘N Slash Romance of the Three Kingdoms Style. The story has evolved as have the characters. While the new installments are always a feather in the veteran’s cap, they open the door for new players. Dynasty Warriors 8 is a game that proves you can keep the same formula but still be fresh.
China is split into factions but isn’t fully fleshed out until the Han dynasty is defeated at the hands of Cao Cao, Liu Bei, and Sun Quan. With Dong Zhuo and Yuan Shao out of the way, Cao Cao of Wei, Sun Quan of Wu, and Liu Bei of Shu must duke it out for control of China. Of course the game doesn’t only take place during that generation. The game takes place over the different generations of the nations, Wei, Wu, Shu, and Jin. There is also a campaign for characters that do not belong to a nation.
In Dynasty Warriors fashion, DW8 retells the story of the Romance of the Kingdoms, which provides a small history lesson and dramatic stylization of the novel. While the basic story stays relatively true to the novel, the character personalities and interactions are stylized for the sake of presentation. What changes about the story of every DW game is the way it is told. In the latest installment the storytelling has reached an all-time high. Something that I always admired about this series is the ability to deliver on speeches from the generals. They get you pumped, and the music doesn’t hurt. When the high res pre-rendered scenes come in, you know shit’s about to get real. While the only downside is the overhead map sections between missions is not narrated as it has been for quite some time now.
The gameplay remains mostly the same, use a flurry of combos to kill people. Everyone’s fighting style is different from one another (barring a few similarities) which is not an easy feat when you have 70 characters in the game. There are two new characters in Wei, two in Wu, three in Shu and Jin. Their roles in the story really enhance the atmosphere. You can even talk to them before missions to get some insight to the fights. Everyone has their own way to play, some have hard crowd control, while others are more suited for killing the generals. Some are fast and some are slow. No two characters play alike. Hell, some weapons are ridiculous, like a rake or a canoe. People say Nintendo has no ideas for new Pokemon.
New moves have been added to the combat, Rage Attacks and Fury Attacks as well as the ability to perform three different musou attacks. Fury Attacks are weapons specific. Every weapon has one of three elements. When your weapon is strong against another element there is an icon that appears above the enemy’s head. When this depletes you perform a multi-hit combo. Rage attacks are more powerful attacks that are issued when you activate the Rage Meter. Mainly, you will use this to perform Rage Musou attacks that deal buttloads of damage and send your combo counter sky high. You can also counter attack. If you are fighting an officer that has a weapon advantage you can switch weapons at the right time to perform a counterattack and gain a lot of rage points. This is what the weapon switch mechanic was supposed to do in DW7 that felt unfinished. Now it feels much more natural.
The maps are brilliantly designed. They are much more details than before. They are mazes that can make you lost even when looking at the minimap. It is so damn refreshing because I am sick of the single hallway design that games like Halo, Call of Duty, and Battlefield have. Not action games I know but the level design is something that seems to have been long forgotten.
In addition to story mode, we get Ambition Mode; it acts like a mix of DW Empires and the Conquest mode in the Dynasty Warriors Vita version. Not only do you get to play through as your favorite general, but you can unlock a ton of extra stuff about the game like galleries and costumes. It is really fun to play because it gives you something to do after to unlock everything in story mode. The return of the What If Scenarios is in DW* as well. I remember these kinds of things being in the original Warriors Orochi title. If you perform certain tasks in story missions you could unlock extra missions. At the end of the game, if you perform the mission’s right you will unlock the What If Scenario which is totally different than what really happens.
Hands down this is the best addition to Dynasty Warriors yet. I really want to see what Koei does with Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends (it is gonna happen guys). The game feels so complete and has that right amount of repetition that makes the game have a healthy amount of replay value. The visuals, the storytelling, the music, even the voice acting are all better than they have ever been. However, when I played through the Jin campaign I had Japanese voices on to honor the death of Tsuyoshi Takishita, the voice of Sima Yi. Dynasty Warriors 8 is the best Dynasty Warriors game I have played to date. I want this momentum to continue into other games like Warriors Orochi and Samurai Warriors. I give Dynasty Warriors 8 a 9/10. You can get it for the PS3 and Xbox 360.