TechLife Australia - - DISCOVER - [ JESS KINGHORN ]

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.

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