To say that the Dynasty Warriors series has been around for 'a while' is a bit of an understatement. Based upon famous battles that occurred during the Three Kingdoms, most of the series can be known for, strangely enough, three things: immense combat that pits players against entire armies, over the top action sequences that don't remotely aim for realism, and gameplay that never really changes. Currently featuring six main games (of whom individually have their own additional expansions), Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce is the latest in feudal Chinese warfare. Surprisingly this title is extremely different from its predecessors, partly because it's basically a port from the PSP.
Based around the battles of warring Chinese feudal lords, players get to pick from one of three territories (Wei, Wu, or Shu) and select a character to go through the story mode with. As players progress through the game they pick up new characters and teammates that can be swapped in, but this doesn't really change the gameplay very much as each character has a very limited variety of moves. Ultimately players will take their selected team through a very loosely interpreted versions of the Three Kingdoms Saga, where whatever team the player chose inevitably becomes the ruling empire.
What really sets Dynasty Warriors: Stikeforce aside is its gameplay, which is unique in the fact that it actually seems to have got worse for this installment. Given it was initially designed for the PSP, more steps should have been taken to ensure a smoother transition to the home console. Everything from the level design, the boss fights, the minor enemy rushes and maps feels like barely any work was done to improve the game; the camera is borderline offensive. Waves of enemies that would be tolerable on the PSP, where a more handheld format calls for a different approach to gameplay, instead feel monotonous. Maps that were broken down to (assumedly) ease the PSP's inferior processing power are left precisely as they were, small and devoid of detail. The result are small packs of enemies in even smaller more confined spaces, which makes moving very difficult.
Whereas in previous games enemies came from gates, and killing the gate keeper stopped the flow, enemies now approach in endless waves and they do so from thin air. Initially players might be tempted to fight these waves, but they will eventually realise that it's only good for farming resources. When a series designed to make players feel like a warrior-god amongst men forces players to run away from foot soldiers it's easy to tell when something has gone wrong. But this isn't even the crowning failure of the game. Once it's been made clear that the game is not intended for single player but instead multiplayer, the real disappointment sets in.
Unlike previous Dynasty Warriors titles, players are set in a 'town' from which they can take on side-quests, in addition to a few other services that NPCs provide. Upgrading weapons, attacks, buying new items and overall improving individual characters are all done through the main town, and progression in the story is only allowed once side-quests have been completed. It's essentially a slightly different look on what's already been offered before though. The only real difference is that there is a small crafting system where items acquired on the battlefield can then be turned into different types of weapons.
While Dynasty Warriors titles are about getting new weapons, clearing maps quickly and fighting off giant waves of soldiers alone, the multiplayer was always a fun component. Generally letting players pair up with one friend to cause mass destruction on a wide scale (sometimes with team attacks), Strikeforce tosses all of that out the window in hopes that players will instead enjoy an absolute grindfest. Searching for rare items and teaming up online (no local multiplayer here) is the main goal of this game, something promoted through massive boss battles. These large scale fights against mythical creatures generally focus around avoiding large attacks, then hovering behind/above/below the creature and hitting it a lot. Combine repetitive predictable boss fights with an extremely bland combat system and the recipe for an awful game is complete.
Graphically the game continues its trend of having few redeeming qualities by seemingly porting its PSP graphics onto its next generation counterpart. While a few of the textures on some of the bosses look nice, they do not alone make up for the flat uninspiring level design and lack of enemies on screen. Sound wise the game does not disappoint either, providing an uninspiring soundtrack and a hilarious voice acting cast.
Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce is essentially one of the worst games in the series. It was a game designed for a handheld system, and it suffers terribly because it was placed on the PlayStation 3 under the pretense of 'why not?' Sprucing up the graphics, tagging the maps back together and sharpening the combat system and camera controls would have made this a genuinely fun title despite the focus still being on multiplayer battles. Without any of those things this game feels like precisely what it is: a game designed for a handheld, that's now on a home console. Fans of the PSP game may find some enjoyment here, but any fans of the Dynasty Warriors series (or fun games in general) won't miss a thing by ignoring this title.