Dynasty is definitely the best word to describe KOEI's and Omega Force's long running hack and slash series that dates back to 1997. Little known fact about Dynasty Warriors 1 is it was a one-on-one fighting game similar to Tekken. Only in the second version which was the first in North America did they change it to the 3rd-person rts hack and slash that we?ve known throughout the years and I use the term rts loosely.
The newest version boasts many new improvements, such as the graphics that are now crisper, the cutscenes are amazing to look at, the attacks more fluid and eye catching, more characters can be loaded upon the screen at the same time without disappearing and proper pronunciation of the characters names.
One of them that I`ve been enjoying the most is the new weapon and skill aka seal system where each character are not limited to one but two that can be switched during battle (which was features in DW: Strikeforce) and exchanged for other ones if you`re not liking them, which is great except that each characters are proficient with a handful of the 10 types of weapons on a 1 to 3 star rating. Each weapon also contains a seal for you to unlock by defeating numerous enemies that can later be equipped upon each weapon you hold, for example: Attack +, Defence +, Movement speed, Officer Assasin which raises atk and def against officers and Seal Master which helps you unlock other seals faster. Basically it replaces the item equipping you`ve had in previous versions. Each character as well has their own skill set that you can unlock by spending skill points that you collect from defeating enemy officers.
Story wise they`ve changed little, Story Mode allows you to choose one of the four sides of Wu, Wei, Shu and the new Jin which is led by the cunning Sima Yi who`s well known as Wei`s famous strategist. Once you pick a kingdom you go through the clan`s entire story from one character to the next and back depending on which battle you`re in so you get the chance to unlock all of the related characters along with keeping the repetition low compared to DW 5 where you play one character`s story at a time where you ended up playing the same battles over and over again. This also keeps the storyline prevalent as you`ll not play characters that historically didn`t appear in certain battles.
|Lu Bu: The Chuck Norris of the Chinese dynasty|
Once after playing through a dynasty or two you can jump into Conquest mode where you select only one character and go on a rampage throughout China by unlocking stages on a hex grid which is great for those who wish to unlock everything and for the hardcore players who want to gain extra stats and weapons to grow their favourite characters that will help them endure hard and chaos mode which is the best way to do so as the gap between normal and hard can be astronomical in difficulty. You can also participate in various quests, buy new mounts which every character has one that can be summoned at any time by pressing a single button which makes things much easier compared to previous version, grow bonds between other DW characters and answer historical Romance of the Three Kingdoms questions which the game is based upon.
Overall the game is great but not amazing and nothing really new to the series. Despite some terrible English voice acting and the removal of the optional Chinese voices, the repetition is thankfully low, the maps and character designs were re-done so you won`t feel like you`ve seen it all yet remain familiar and the conquest mode will keep the replay high enough for fans of the series to keep going and unlock the higher end weapons and for the challenge. For newcomers be warned, it is a button masher, you may not know the series and the history behind it but it is fun, fairly easy to get into and if you`re looking for an excuse to cut down thousands of enemies per battle then this is your game but I`d suggest two things, try Dynasty Warriors 5 first on the PS2 as it was one of the best in my opinion and for god?s sake, stay AWAY from Lu Bu until you`re ready, he is a badass for a reason, who else rides a fire horse (besides Guan Yu who`s also a badass, just look at that beard) and lives?
*side notes: For those who don`t want to read the long Romance of the Three Kingdoms book can also check out the turn-based strategy game of the same name that`s been out for years and also the movie Red Cliff to get info and your fix on Chinese history.