Dynasty Warriors 4 PS2 Review
Travel back in time to the realms of ancient China. There you will try and become the greatest warrior of the age, from the fall of the Han dynasty of China; you join one of the three kingdoms in hope to bring peace to the war-stricken country.
The graphics haven’t been greatly improved since Dynasty Warriors 3, this doesn’t matter, as they were good enough in the first place. During battles the action is always smooth and never jumps, presumably the lack of graphical improvement is to account for this; why change something that works well. The characters have got sufficient detail and animation to make them seem as human as possible.
The backdrops of the play areas are as sparse as ever though. The lack of detail in the surroundings may put some people off the game, but you don’t notice it that much as you are normally too occupied by where the arrows are coming from that are hitting you in the back.
In the Musou (or campaign) mode you pick one of the three factions to follow: Wu, Wei or Shu. They each have different missions and routes to follow as they try to overthrow the other two clans; you then pick out of a host of generals, each one follows a different story line as they may only appear in some battles and not others.
Players of the other games in this series will recognise many faces as they return to aid your fight against the other clans. Many of the levels have made a return as well, but how many times can you fight the battle at Hu Lao Gate before it gets extremely repetitive? Now that it has reached its fourth version I think that the originality and wonder has started to wear a little thin.
The characters are almost superhuman as they flatten a group of 10-20 attackers with one swipe. It’s funny to see a whole pile of bodies flying like rag dolls across the battlefield. They all have basic combo attacks (triggered by triangle on the PS2 or Y on the Xbox) that is more powerful than the normal attacks and has a different effect depending on the number of moves you did before using it. This feature upgrades with your weapons, because the better the weapon, the more moves you can do therefore making your combo more powerful.
The weapons gain experience during battle by using combos, killing enemy generals and counter-attacking. The weapons then upgrade and are able to make more moves before you have to take a break. The attack power also increases so you can defeat enemies with even more ease. You can also collect extra items to help to power up your character by killing the opposing generals and collecting what they leave behind.
Another new feature to the series is the ability to duel some enemy officers, one on one to the death, like a beat-em-up game. These types of battles are extremely tricky and not to be taken lightly or by those with insufficient experience.
Your bodyguards have new features as well; they are fully customisable, from the colour of their clothing to the ability to change their names. You can still change what weapon they carry, as always there is a wide variety to choose from including swords, spears and bows! During battles you can change the bodyguard settings, to Attack, Defense, or Wait mode.
There are times when you will have to defend a battering ram that is trying to demolish a gate, from enemy forces coming from left, right and centre. If you succeed then you get a great sense of achievement when your forces pile through the gate and start to fight the troops on the other side.
The game carries on the tradition of having camp voices and is the same quality that you would find in a dubbed kung fu movie. The soundtrack, however, is different and somewhat more varied than the other games in the series. Although the 80’s style rock guitar is back, the menus and other places have a much more varied and almost ambient feel about them. This is definitely a welcome change as the guitar was getting a bit repetitive.
There is a satisfying “aaaaargh” when you slay your enemies and they fall onto the ground. There are also many other sounds that add to the battle scenes as you hear slashing and the click of two interlocking swords.
There are many things to unlock, like new characters and different costumes for them to wear; on top of that, there are lots of items to collect which will keep the die-hard fan playing for months. For the other gamers it might seem too much like the previous versions to keep them happy for a great deal of time.
No matter how you look at it there is no mistaking that it is just a pumped up version of Dynasty Warriors 3. If you already own DW3 then there is not much point wasting your money on this, but if you haven’t this would certainly be a great buy and I recommend it to anyone who wants a beat-em-up game but with lots of people to fight rather than just one.