Dynasty Warriors 5 Xbox Review
Now into its fifth incarnation, is the Dynasty Warriors series getting any better, or do we just get another copy of what’s gone on before? For those of you new to the saga, the games take you back in time to China, just after the birth of Christ, to fight as an ally of one of the ‘Three Kingdoms’: Wei, Wu and Shu. The story evolves as you win epic battles and attempt to unite China under your faction’s banner.
The graphics of the Dynasty Warriors games haven’t been altered very much since its first release this generation on the PS2, though on the Xbox you can see a bit of a difference. The main difference is that you can see even more enemies on screen at once (whether this is a good thing or not, I don’t know) which helps eliminate some of the ‘disappearing foes’ problems that the previous releases had. Unfortunately the game still tries to display more than it, and the machine, can cope with, especially on the hard setting. There are, however, no slow-downs, the frame rate stays constantly high, even when battling with a large number of enemies in humongous groups.
The camera cannot be moved around manually with the use of any buttons (at least not that I could find), so when the camera angle was terrible I had to hit R to block, as this spins the view back around to being behind the warrior – just an annoyance really.
There aren’t many cut-scenes in the normal sense of the word and the ones they do have between combat are not in any way spectacular, but that’s not what this game is about – it’s about slaughtering as many of the enemy’s forces as you possibly can in the time given to you. The character models are very detailed, but throughout most of the battle you can only see the back of their heads, so that doesn’t matter. The surroundings of the battlefield are as poor as ever though, with them having flat textures there’s nothing that spectacular to see.
There are various options you can choose from, with the story mode being called Musou Mode. In this you pick a character from three factions: Shu, Wu or Wei, in this version there are six new characters which bring the total number to choose from up to a whopping 48 people. Most of these characters you have to unlock by completing the other stories. Each of these have their own voice and their own unique storyline that interchanges with the stories of others to create a nice flowing tale of the War of the Three Kingdoms, as seen from different angles.
The bodyguard system has been completely overhauled in DW5 as you no longer have a pathetic group of soldiers afraid to get their nice spears dirty. Instead you get one truly heroic guard who runs into a nearby pack of enemies and instantly starts to attack. When you and your bodyguard are standing close together, and both your Musou bars are full, you become connected with a bolt of lightning and then you can unleash a devastating double-team power attack by hitting B.
From Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires the strongholds have been brought forward into this game. These are an important addition; both teams have some of these stronghold bases run by a guard captain in each. Upon killing the Guard Captain, your opponent can no longer command this base, which means that their morale goes down, whilst yours rises – this can be very useful in the middle of a fight. Now here’s a confusing bit: in the previous DW games, the person protecting the gates of an enemy castle was called the Guard Captain, and the one protecting the troop spawn points were called Gate Captains. This time they have been switched around, which kind of makes sense.
Through the battles there are crates; these are extremely important as they are where you find most of the items that will help you during the game, and they also contain weapons which are very handy finds indeed. Killing enemy generals can also cause a weapon or item to drop, but most of the time you just get either an attack power-up or a defence power-up.
The dodgy electric guitar riffs are still present in the game but these didn’t last very long while I was playing, as they were soon muted and replaced by Nirvana on my stereo. This time around I believe that they have got worse as the music from DW4 was bearable for a bit longer and some were even fun to listen to.
Now to the voice acting …. You have the ability to choose to have the characters speaking in English or Japanese – I would pick Japanese as the English voices are absolutely terrible. They don’t match the faces or the characteristics of the warriors and it just doesn’t sound right, in Japanese I can’t tell what a dodgy accent is, so I’m more than happy to listen to that instead. On top of that, when the music is on over the briefing you can barely hear the general talking which can be a good thing if you’re still in English.
The whole lifespan of the game is based on repetition using different characters. You are still fighting the same battles that have gone on in all of the previous games, which starts to get very annoying, and having to play it through six or seven times with different characters is extremely tedious.
Each character has only five battles to fight in before the game is over for them which is irritating as these five missions are over before you can say “slice-and-dice” with each person averaging just over an hour and a half of fighting on Easy. Add an extra hour and a half for Normal mode and an hour on top of that for Hard mode.
Multiplayer can lengthen the game a bit, but all of my friends got bored after one battle so we switched it off and went onto something else which cuts the lifespan again further. However, if you really get into it you can easily lose a day to chopping up thousands of enemies.
This fifth instalment in Koei’s epic collection is disappointing; the voice acting is cheesy, each character’s story is too short, and it is a hell of a lot more of the same thing. There are, however, some beneficial changes. For example, the new ‘solo’ bodyguard system is genius, and the new strongholds are an interesting addition to the mainstream game. If you own any of the previous ones this generation, then there is probably no point taking out your wallet to buy this one. If you are new to the series this would be a good place to start as it has more of a storyline than the others, which does sort of add something to the game.