Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires Xbox 360 Review

Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires, the sequel to Dynasty Warriors 5 which was the sequel to Dynasty Warriors 4, Dynasty Warriors 4: Extreme Legends, Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires, Dynasty Warriors 3, Dynasty Warriors 3: Extreme Legends, Dynasty Warriors 2…. You get where I am going with this don’t you? (Well technically the empires are all sequels, and the extreme legends are the true sequels but they all hold very similar themes)

Dynasty Warriors is probably the longest running series of games in the past decade, not since Street Fighter has any game series had so many ‘pointless’ upgrades. Now as we move into the next generation we’re presented with the newest game in the series arriving on the Xbox 360. I myself have played a few of the titles, none of which really struck a chord for me, but I was willing to give this next version a good shot, but as this is a complicated series of titles I have used other peoples opinions of how they find the changes.

Let me start by asking the simple question: should a lower price point be adapted to what can be seen as a ‘lazy’ title? Well in this reviewer’s view, no. Poor RockStar Games have really set the standard for budget games with Table Tennis, which was built from the ground up for the 360. Here we get the laziest PS2 to 360 conversions I ever want to see. PS2 to Xbox was bad enough, but the time has come to let the lazy ports end. Anyway, rant over, let’s get on with the actual reviewing of the game. It must be noted that this is only slightly better looking than a PS2 game, even on my 40″ Samsung HD LCD TV.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, Dynasty Warriors is a series of 3D melee action video games published by Koei. It is based on the Chinese historical novel Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong. The essence here is of an intelligent ‘hack’n’slash. With this being an Empires title in the series, this means that there is a bit more of an element of tactics within the title, and I am told by a hardcore fan that the ability to give orders to allies within the game is a much welcome addition.

The basic principle is to take control of the whole of China. This is done by taking control of one region at a time. This must be completed within ‘100 turns’ or 25 game years. Tactically this game is like a poor mans strategy game and for me this is a good thing as I tend to be very put off by complicated technical strategy games. This is generally achieved by the being able to make a few decisions each turn and keeping things simple (sort of). Your growing number of troops throughout the game is employed on the battlefield by your choices alone, and while there is a certain area of hit and miss, it can be seen to get you involved that little bit more into the game than a standard Dynasty Warriors title.

Then we get to the action. As we are talking about an Xbox 360 title here, it must be noted that another game sort of exists within this genre. Ninety Nine Nights (commonly referred to as N3) was built from the ground up for the Xbox 360, and this title looks pale in comparison. Where these titles compare the most is the fact they are both built to throw as many enemies on screen towards you as possible, making you feel like you are in a full-scale war. Dynasty Warriors titles somewhat invented this method, but as this is now the next generation, the title N3 (from the limited amount I have played) just felt that much smoother and more intelligent. DW5: Empires is a button masher to say the least. There are combos, but they can be both sticky and tricky to pull off and as such thumping the ‘x’ button and occasionally pressing the others seems like the best bet, leaving your progress to be a bit of a hit or a miss as you really are not implementing any real skill into the title. However if you do manage to pull something great off, it can be said that you learn it for the future, and I got a bit more tactical with my combos approaching the end of the game. It must be said however, that the blocking system still just feels out of time, and just not up to the standards, and the same can be said for the again frustrating camera.

Technically the game’s AI is terribly dumb, and is a series of ‘run around’ then slash and repeat. You strike no fear in the characters, and they just feel like lifeless drones, when faced with someone of enormous power.

The music is your typical cheesy rock kind of stuff that I won’t even begin to try and say I liked. It does do a good job at helping present the title but it takes you away from any kind of historical authenticity. The same can be said for the voice acting, which should have been left un-dubbed as the cheesy American voices ruin even the most basic level of authenticity and manages to take you completely out of the experience.

In summary, don’t let me overemphasise on the bad to put you off trying the title. By all means pick this up for the PlayStation 2 for £9.99 next month in GAME’s pre owned section. Other than that, unless you are a die hard fan of the series, it’s probably best as a rental title. As far as I can tell, there was no real reason for this game to come to the Xbox 360, other than cashing in on the console’s lack of new release titles at the moment. Sure it has some enjoyable strategy elements, but then I would recommend you ignore that temptation and spend the £29.99 on something much better instead (or even wait for N3 due fall 2006).

Unless you are a die hard fan of the series, this is probably best as a rental title.

5.5 out of 10

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