What can be said about Dynasty Warriors that has not already been said? Well, unfortunately for the eighth instalment to the main franchise, not a lot.
The fundamental gameplay has not evolved over the many instalments, adding new features and powers are all well and good as a point on the back of the box, but when you feel like you are playing a glorified expansion pack, you can’t help but feel like something more could be done with the franchise.
There are an abundance of characters representing their respective dynasty. Starting with 3-4, but as you play through each campaign you can unlock more than 70 playable characters, including 9 new ones. Each character comes with their own strengths and can build up levels through battles, giving a vague RPG element and sense of character progression in the many game modes.
In story mode you are able to pick which dynasty to side with including the Wei, Wu, Shu, and Jin Dynasties; this allows some pretty big replay ability, to return to each battle from a different perspective. Unfortunately levels do begin to feel repetitive in a single campaign, let alone following up with the other sides to the story. This is also the case with enemies, different skins and weapons give you the impression that your opponent (the named enemies specifically) will offer you a challenge, but most feel like they are using the same attack patterns repeatedly. Beating down enemies can be extremely fun while your attention lasts; huge waves of soldiers run toward you, begging to be cut down by your blade and epic combo’s, further enhanced by obtaining new weapons to utilise in battle. Each character has weapons that they are more proficient with, but are able to use any weapon you pick up; equipping these takes place outside of battle, before you begin the next attack. You are also able to whistle out to a horse to speed up travel on the battlefield, getting you from A to B faster and keeping you in the thick of it.
One major irritation of mine with Dynasty Warriors 8 is the sheer amount of talking that takes place on the battlefield. It wouldn’t be such an annoyance if they didn’t repeat themselves every sixty seconds with the same 2 lines of dialog. What makes this even more painful is the lack to voice over dialog between battles, leaving you to read the miniscule text that travels across the screen in an attempt to explain what is now happening, which is even present in other game modes.
Ambitions mode has you setting up your village to build Tongquetai tower from the ground up to attract the attention of the Emperor. Unfortunately your town is a dump, so to rebuild it and freshen it up you must participate in battles that are constantly occurring around your town to gain resources. This is the saving grace for Dynasty Warriors 8, giving you plenty of reason to come back for more. Gaining resources and helping your town build and grow can be addicting and rising that tower up can be rewarding. Free play mode on the other hand is almost exactly the same as story mode, save for a few different options on where to go and when to attack. Dynasty Warriors offers a lot outside of combat, diving into the history directly with a detailed Encyclopaedia that explains much of the characters and what actually happened during each time period they were alive. It goes as far as describing each individual battle that took place, the rise and fall of Dynasties, and even a timeline expanding on more than different 140 entries; the depth is honestly astounding.
Dynasty Warriors 8 offers a lot of content on disc which is commendable, but the feeling of deja vu can’t be escaped by stacking new features on a stagnant foundation. The controls are solid as always and the character models are nice, but nothing sets it apart from its predecessors that are worth raving about. If you are Dynasty Warriors fan, you will most likely get a kick out of this and so will new comers, but anyone else in between, steer clear of this hack and slash.
FINAL ROUND RATING - 5/10
- Will Flynn