Dynasty Warriors is a franchise which feels like it's been around for way longer than it actually has. In fact, the Dynasty Warriors that we know has only been around since the start of the PlayStation 2 era, as the original title was a fighting game, like Tekken. It's actually grown a lot since then though; many more characters have been added, new gameplay mechanics have been phased in and the modes have been fleshed out. These elements have enabled many people to become well versed in Chinese history, all while slaughtering thousands of people at the same time. Dynasty Warriors 7 certainly doesn't stray too far from any of this.
As expected, the story mode in Dynasty Warriors 7 looks at the three main kingdoms from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story: Shu, Wei and Wu. It all starts off with the Yellow Turban Rebellion and then, depending on which story you choose, you'll find out a different element of what actually happened. And in typical Dynasty Warriors style, there will be a nice touch of fiction thrown in there for effect too.
What's different about Dynasty Warriors 7 though, is that they've tried to make it all feel a bit more "personal". Before, you had a choice over who you wanted to enter the fray with, but now the choice is set in stone. If you choose Wei, for example, you'll use a mixture of Cao Cao, Xiahuo Dun, Xiahuo Yuan, Cao Pi, Dian Wei and Jia Xu.
Also new, is a fourth storyline. Whereas previous games have focussed primarily on the rise of three main kingdoms, Dynasty Warriors 7 takes a more detailed look at what happened afterwards in history, specifically with the Jin Dynasty. Some of the Jin faction characters have appeared in previous games, like Sima Yi, but never has the story of their rise to power been elaborated on that much.
Gameplay has always been the facet of Dynasty Warriors that people have either loved or hated. And as a basic entity, the gameplay in Dynasty Warriors 7 is not that much different from those that came previously. Every character has their basic quick attack, but they also have a strong attack that can be linked in to mix things up a bit. At the start, your basic attack chain will be limited to four moves, but as characters progress you'll be able to increase this to six - the same theory applies to the strong attacks too.
What's slightly different with Dynasty Warriors 7, is how they've gone about the actual weapons themselves. Each character can use multiple types of weapons, whereas in previous games they were restricted to using the default weapon assigned by the developer - they could be upgraded, but if someone started using a sword, that's all they could ever use. It's a great addition, and with the ability to hold two weapons at the same time, it gives the whole experience much more freedom. For example, you may really hate using Xu Zhu's massive club, so you can instead equip him with some Tonfa.When equipping weapons, a compatibility option is there, so you can see how well they suit characters. And in this respect, the game hasn't gone away from tradition. Xiahuo Dun can use a flute, but you'll see much more benefit from using a sword. Each character also has a specialised weapon type, which will allow them to use an EX attack - although the stipulations for activating this are different for each character. It's a nice idea, but it can be a bit annoying as it means some EX attacks are great, while others suck.
In many ways, it would be nice if Omega Force could combine some of the gameplay changes implemented by Koei Canada in the recent Legends: Warriors of Troy. It helped to make the gameplay less about random button mashing, adding timing and strategy into the mix. In Dynasty Warriors 7 there's still an element of, you find a combo that works, and you never stray from using that combo. Why would you? The game gives you some additions, like a secondary Musou Attack, but usually one is better suited to every situation than the other. On the subject of Musuo Attacks, the power of the attacks between different characters is also quite frustrating. Some are a singular attack, which if you miss, means you waste it. Others are more strung out attacks, allowing you to change and adapt if your placement was bad.
The game's graphics are pretty good. There have been other games developed for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but this is the first one that feels like it was actually developed for the platforms from the ground up. Most of the time the frame rate is rock solid, but there are some points where it does drop a bit. It's not bad, but you can tell the difference. The music is solid too, with the rock/metal vibe oozing out - there's nothing better to slaughter thousands of guys to. The draw distance is also immense, no troops disappear through "ghosting", no matter how much is going on.
The only real gripe comes with the camera, which is ridiculously sensitive. It's bearable once you get used to it, but it would have been nice to have the option to alter it manually.
Aside from the game's four story campaigns, which will help you get used to, and unlock the game's various characters, there is Conquest Mode. This is where you'll spend most of your time, as there are a ridiculous amount of battles to play through. Here, you'll supplement your weapon collections, force relationships with the various other characters and earn fame/gold.
To make things even better, Conquest Mode also features online co-operative play, so you can team up with a friend to take down some enemy heroes. It's a really great element and it helps you enjoy the game without having to have someone local, which is also an option via split-screen. The only real omission seems to be that you can't create your own character any more - no afro swordsman.
Dynasty Warriors 7 feels like the first true next generation game from the Dynasty Warriors series. It features a solid gameplay system, with the ability to use any weapon combinations, and Conquest Mode will keep fans occupied for quite some time. It would be nice to see the gameplay grow a bit more, and perhaps with the next game they can really try to push on, adding some more depth to the gameplay. It's a solid entry though, and fans will be more than satisfied.
|Conquest Mode is excellent.|
|The ability to change weapons so easily is a massive plus.|
|Jin now has its own campaign.|
|The camera is far too sensitive.|
|The gameplay still feels too similar. The major difference is that it's just not the Renbu system.|
|No create-a-character option.|