Dynasty Warriors 9
The Dynasty Warriors games have always attracted a fair bit of criticism. for being repetitive, for being the same game with slightly sharper graphics, but these comments undermine how well refined the series had become. each entry a hugely enjoyable hack-andslash romp with a solid and surprisingly versatile combat system at its core – one which continues to lend itself to many licensed spin-offs, such as Dragon Quest and the legend of Zelda.
Developer omega force was eager to try something different with this ninth instalment to the main series, and it has taken something of a bold step in an attempt to freshen up the formula. the familiar button-mashing battles now take place across a large open world and, oh wow, what a mistake that has been. the concept – open World Dynasty Warriors – isn’t a bad one by any means. No longer a series of arena battles, it’s a huge map full of running battles in real time that you can jump into as any of your chosen historical heroes, as well as more hand-crafted story missions that progress through the romance of the three Kingdoms. You unlock more playable characters, build relationships with generals on your own and enemy sides and, of course, still take on hundreds upon hundreds of enemy troops.
the problem here is that it’s all so rough. animations are awkward and limited, texture and item pop-in is a constant distraction and, if that weren’t all frustrating enough, the frame rate is also all over the place – constantly up and down when you have the sheer temerity to point the camera towards a crowd of enemies. Perhaps most criminal, however, is that it’s a bit boring.
there’s still something thrilling about taking on an entire army all by yourself – the big battles for territory are still just the best – it’s just the open world attached to it is so by the numbers. Watchtowers to climb that show nearby objectives? Check. resource-collecting busywork as part of an item crafting system? Check. identical quests dotted around the map? those too. hell, it wouldn’t surprise us were we to later discover that you could swan dive into a bail of hay to avoid combat entirely. the open world is too sparse, with little means of actually leaving any meaningful impact on it. the tight arenas of the previous games are a much better fit for the constant hacking and slashing that the series has become infamous for. occasionally, the parts do all come together, such as when you storm across a vast plain into battle on horseback, flanked by your allies, leaping off into an attack that sends an entire platoon of enemy soldiers skyward. it’s in these fleeting moments that you understand what omega force was trying to achieve here. unfortunately, the execution falls well short of what we’ve come to expect from games of this lineage in 2018.
Below: Each character has a big cinematic special attack, and they’re one of the few times where the visuals actually look really nice, taking out hundreds of enemies before causing a massive frame rate dip.
Above: The scale might be impressive, but once you get up high it is clear to see that this feudal China is largely big fields full of trees between similar looking settlements.
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