Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends PS3 Review

KOEI and Omega Force have brought us countless “Warriors” titles over the year, the first of which (as we know it) was Dynasty Warriors 2 and was released more than a decade ago. With the exclusion of 6, each numerical entry in the historically hacking-and-slashing Dynasty Warriors series has always seen an “Xtreme Legends” expansion pack which claims to take the button-mashing fun of the Three Kingdoms Era to entirely new levels of action and exaggeration. While Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends (henceforth referred to as DW7: XL) shows that KOEI is once again headed in the right direction, I can’t help but wish we received a little more content this time around.

As is custom in Warriors expansion packs, KOEI has introduced fresh content into their latest release in the way of a few new characters (two new characters and a returning cast member to be exact). Newcomer Wang Yi enters the battlefields under the Wei banner and armed with trishula (a pair of Asian hand-tridents). Returning warrior Pang De makes use of the Twin Axes that were already featured in Dynasty Warriors 7, which slightly disappoints me but is mitigated by his unique EX and Musou Attacks. The final (and my personal favorite) addition is Cao Cao’s trusty strategist, Guo Jia. Chosen by overseas fans via Famitsu Magazine, Guo Jia wields an Orb and Scepter and sides with the Wei army as well. As much as I am pleased by the new additions, I would have much rathered one new addition for each kingdom. Otherwise, the new characters fit in quite well and have everything needed in their arsenal to destroy the multitude of wimpering soldiers that stand before you.

Diehard fans may remember Dynasty Warriors 5: Xtreme Legend‘s “Xtreme Mode”, a mode that allowed you to experience over-the-top action from previously unexplored (or unused) scenarios from the Three Kingdoms Era. Xtreme Mode sees a rebirth in DW7:XL’s “Legend Mode”. In Legend Mode, you essentially select a character with which to govern a “Castle Town”. When you begin the mode, your Castle Town is desolate and barren with only your selected character (known as the Town Prefect), your Adjutant (a military assistant of sorts that you also select from the officer pool), and your Counselor (who allows you to change your Adjutant at any time).

As you fight battles, your town will slowly begin to grow. Eventually Weapons Dealers, Blacksmiths, and Strategists will come to offer various services such as new weapons and seal unlocking. Additionally, depending on your selected Adjutant, the “Atmosphere” of your Castle Town will fluctuate between moods such as ‘Carefree’ and ‘Orderly’, with each mood granting specfic bonuses like stat-ups on the battlefield or discounts at weapon merchants. While the Castle Town can be a nice reprieve from the grind of battle, I would have liked to see a little more depth added to the mechanic. As I wandered about my small city, I took a moment to speak with my Adjutant, Ma Dai. He smiled and confessed:

“It sure is hard to move with so many people around! Even I have my limits you know…”

Only 12 people resided in my Castle Town at the time, so I was noticeably perplexed. While the mode is a step in the right direction, it definitely could have used a bit more work. I’m not surprised that my Castle Town is currently in an “Orderly” Atmosphere. Its residents simply stand in front of their shops like mannequins. Nevertheless, its a start, and a mode which I’d like to see more built upon in the future.

Battles in Legend Mode allow you to see both famous and previously unmentioned events from various perspectives. For instance, the first battle you partake in will have you battling alongside the Yellow Turbans to defeat the Allied Heroes. Another allowed me to fight alongside the fearsome Lu Bu as I defended Hulao Gate. I found this to be a very entertaining change in pace, dialogue, and undoubtedly the main attraction of DW7: XL’s Legend Mode. It’s important to note that Legend Mode does support Online Multiplayer, however I was unable to connect to anyone at the time of this review.

The other new mode in DW7: XL is “Challenge Mode”. Challenge Mode allows you to participate in various battle-related events to earn high scores. These kill-fests vary from killing as many officers as possible before dying and speed running through a battlefield to a destination point as fast as possible, to the classic Bridge Battle mode where you must send as many warriors flying off of a bridge as possible. While these Challenges are mildly entertaining diversions from the main Legend mode, there is little incentive to return to them besides the Online Leaderboard feature, which ranks you among the Top 100 worldwide.

Small but important-to-note additions are a new difficulty setting, dubbed Nightmare, weapons that can only be obtained in the Nightmare difficulty setting, and built-in Japanese voice option. The new difficulty setting is no exaggeration, as many times in testing it I was slain in one hellish hit. Enduring the very dangerous new difficulty and fulfilling pre-determined conditions on any given map will net you a snazzy new weapon.

Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends is a very good expansion pack. I’m glad to see KOEI moving forward after the very-disappointing Dynasty Warriors 6 and Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires. Dynasty Warriors 7 was a step in the right direction for the core series and 7: Xtreme Legends is a start for the expansion packs. For the price point, I would have liked to see a little more content packed onto the disc. Additionally, when playing one openly wonders why KOEI chose to use the Remix feature (which has you swapping discs in and out of your PS3 on a near daily basis to experience all possible content from both Dynasty Warriors 7 and Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends at once) instead of just releasing the title as DLC. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it does seem a little backwards when you look at the plethora of downloadable content released for their recent titles. All in all, Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends is a pleasing refresher into the very-stylized rendition of Ancient China that KOEI is known for bringing to life. A few fallacies slightly devalue the experience, but any fan will find this to be a solid update.

7 out of 10