DYNASTY WARRIORS 9
FAR BIGGER, BUT NOT NECESSARILY BETTER. $99.95 | PC, PS4, XO | www.koeitecmoamerica.com
The ninth instalment in the Dynasty Warriors series adds a few new steps to the tried-and-true routine of previous entries, going open world for the first time, among other things. Once again, grand-scale military battles form much of the backdrop as your chosen champion of the three rival states takes centre stage. When you see the on-screen prompt over an attacking foe, you can perform either a counter or finishing move, or a guard break, a knock down or launch your enemies into the air. Alongside gems that can be forged into your weapons, this adds welcome variety and an additional layer of visual flair to combat. That said, even with occasional deviations from the series’ norm (for instance, there’s a stealth mission early on), there are few enemies in the first 10 hours that necessitate a complex strategy. The amount of content in this entry is impressive. Tucked into every corner of the expansive map are stunning vistas plus a number of new additions, including hideaways you can buy and kit out, watchtowers that let you push back the fog of war, resources you’ll need for crafting or cooking that you can wrestle from powerful enemies, and animals that you can only encounter by straying from the path. But despite everything the open world still ends up feeling empty, especially as much of your time is spent travelling long stretches between battles broken up only by samey outpost offensives. While battles are informed by a story drawing from rich historical and literary sources, the presentation is devoid of that same richness. Many conversations leading up to pivotal battles are conveyed through bland cutscenes featuring inexpressive, mostly static character models. English voices return, alongside the option of Japanese or Chinese audio, though they are far more restrained than previous appearances and unable to save these scenes. Even the settlements feel lifeless, filled with the same NPCs carrying out the same animations, failing to create the illusion of more beneath the surface.