Dynasty Warriors 2 PSP Review

For people new to the series, Dynasty Warriors 2 can seem like an exciting prospect. Hacking and slashing at some poor Chinese grunts with a range of different weapons, leading your army across the map and ultimately winning wars. And for the first hour or so, DW2 does not disappoint.

The first time you play, it can all be a bit daunting as the game does not hide just how much there is to do. Unless you’re a DW veteran, you may want to find some help here. There are 3 different groups of characters to choose from. It is very difficult to work out which character is for you, so you’d probably find it easiest to pick the character that you like the look of best. You’d expect from the long list of character stats for there to be some kind of description of their weapon, but instead you’ll have to go through all of the setup to find the weapon you want, if that’s the way you want to play.

In Musou (Story or Main) mode, the game will then greet you with a short setup, where you choose your horse, weapon and officers. The former two of these will not be possible the first time you play. The main map shows an organised layout of the battle area, including the positions of enemy armies, supply depots and enemy camps. You choose where you want to move your army, and begin. The game boasts over 100 levels but really, these all feel like identi-kit levels, pieced together out of the same maps and scenarios, so you’ll find it way too repetitive to really justify having all those levels.

The action is instantly engrossing, and the first few hundred KO’s that you achieve feel really good. It’s easy to just mow through crowds of enemies, no matter what weapons they have. Captains only differ in the fact that they don’t fall down and die after one hit and the enemy Generals may take some kind of skill to defeat, but not always. As to actually fighting, the amount of actions is incredibly limited, with just having one attack button, and two buttons that vary the fighting slightly. Nevertheless, the way it plays is still fun. In contrast to a lot of PSP games, the controls actually work well, they aren’t fiddly and they’re easy to remember. The thought of riding around on horses and slaying enemies works much in the same way as the rest of the game. You really want to do it, but when you finally get to do it, you realise that the options are more limited than when you’re on foot.

As any sensible new player would do, I started on the easy difficulty, to learn the basics of the game. Here, easy has been taken to the extreme as most standard enemy types fall at one touch of your weapon, and it isn’t a rarity to be able to walk up to groups of enemies and see them just stood around, in very close proximity to a group of your own troops, who are also standing around idly. Romping through the game on this difficulty setting would barely challenge a four year old. Switching up to the normal difficulty setting is a pointless exercise as there is practically no difference. It’s only when you switch up to the hard difficulty setting that the enemies become more substantial, and actually appear to know what they’re doing. It’s advisable to play the game at this setting; otherwise you’ll get bored of it way too quickly.

It’s lucky that you don’t take much time to take in the environments because, as you first play through, they’re the same. There seem to be only a few different levels, and these are shuffled up into different orders for you to play through. Later on in the game, you will notice different level designs, but they’re not frequent enough to be enjoyable changes. When you are mid-battle, It can get very annoying to observe that the fog effect, used so that the PSP doesn’t have to show every bot on screen at once, can be obscenely impertinent enough to be showing you a random enemy miles off in the distance, and the enemies that are coming up next to you to attack are invisible until you are injured. In terms of graphics, the game is very pleasing to the eye, with graphics rivalling many PS2 games.

Meanwhile, the objectives for the campaigns are nearly always “kill an enemy leader”, although sometimes alternatives are offered, such as seize all defence bases etc. Completing alternative objectives will steer you on a different course through the story mode. It is impossible to play every different campaign as the story mode is only 3 or 4 campaigns long, so you must restart from the original campaigns and try to complete the alternative objectives to unlock all the campaigns for each of the three groups, much like in Shadow the hedgehog, where you must start from the same point and try to go a different way from there. In this way, you’ll become very, very tired of playing the same campaign over and over again.

Unfortunately, and surprisingly, there’s a limit to how many nasty Chinese people you can tear down before you become a little bit bored. And that limit will probably come about every hour of play. It’s lucky, therefore, that the PSP has an intolerably short battery life. It is most likely that you’ll not be able to play this game to death because the PSP simply can’t manage that long.

Whilst playing, you rarely stop and think ‘this isn’t very good’ and you shouldn’t, because DW2 isn’t exactly a bad game, but it does nothing to shine and therefore shouldn’t be at the top of your mind for buying.

Enjoyable, but not deep enough.

7.2 out of 10

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