dy­nast y war­riors 9

Trav­esty War­riors More Like

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - START - Sam Greer

The Three King­doms pe­riod of Chi­nese his­tory is widely known. It was a rel­a­tively short pe­riod, but con­tained so many in­cred­i­ble peo­ple and events that it has been the sub­ject of count­less fic­tion from op­eras to films. It was a time that brought great trans­for­ma­tion to the pol­i­tics and cul­ture of China, dur­ing which tech­nol­ogy pushed for­ward at an as­tound­ing pace. This was one of the blood­i­est times in Chi­nese his­tory.

Sadly, the only part of this time pe­riod Dy­nasty War­riors seems in­ter­ested in is that last, vi­o­lent part, in the most straight­for­ward and mind­less way pos­si­ble. The ini­tial story se­lec­tion screen, where you choose which char­ac­ter to start play­ing as, un­lock­ing more char­ac­ters in later time pe­ri­ods as you progress, of­fers the sense that this might tell the grand, sweep­ing story of the Three King­doms pe­riod from a range of dif­fer­ent view point, from var­i­ous time pe­ri­ods. Even the in­tro­duc­tory cutscenes pay some lip ser­vice to the his­tory be­hind events, so you’d ex­pect it to come up at some point dur­ing the ac­tion.

Yet the mo­ment you’re placed into the game, it’s sim­ply a mat­ter of mash­ing but­tons and let­ting your cho­sen hero whirl around on screen as they cut down end­less hordes of name­less foes. There are ac­tu­ally com­bos and skills you can learn, but there’s re­ally no need to bother in­vest­ing the time to master any of it. In the dozens of hours with the game we played, lit­tle more was ever re­quired than smash­ing those at­tack but­tons as quickly as pos­si­ble. Your great­est en­emy here will be the ex­treme risk of an RSI, rather than the armies you’ll be cut­ting down. If you’ve played or heard of Dy­nasty

War­riors be­fore, this isn’t new in­for­ma­tion. The se­ries has a wel­learned rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing mind­less hack and slash­ers. Yet in spite of this, the games have earned some­thing of a cult fol­low­ing.

Brain dead

Why ex­pect any­thing else from a se­ries that has changed so lit­tle de­spite its numer­ous en­tries over the years? Be­cause this time the de­vel­op­ers took things into an open world, and with it came the prom­ise of a whole new take on the se­ries. Maybe this would be the en­try to tran­scend the medi­ocre trap­pings of prior ti­tles and ac­tu­ally do some­thing dif­fer­ent?

Alas, no. By the stan­dards of decade-old open world games

Dy­nasty War­riors 9 is a chore, but in the shadow of more re­cent ti­tles like The Witcher 3 or Grand Theft

Auto V it’s ab­so­lutely not worth your time. The world it­self is com­pletely life­less. Lack­ing in the sump­tu­ous de­tail we’ve come to ex­pect of th­ese pro­duc­tions, it doesn’t have ei­ther a com­pelling art style or even a vi­brant pal­ette. It’s all mostly flat, brown ter­rain with a smat­ter­ing of bland

“The game doesn’t have a com­pelling art style or even a vi­brant pal­ette”

ob­jects. For all the miles of China Dy­nasty War­riors of­fers, not one part of it cap­tures any of the real beauty of the coun­try’s di­verse land­scapes.

There is the op­tion to travel via horse or boat, but there just isn’t the same joy in it that you get com­ing over the crest of a hill on horse­back or rock­ing against the waves of a storm in The Witcher. This is a world that ex­ists to house things to kill, and lit­tle to no ef­fort has been made to make it a be­liev­able or com­pelling space in its own right.

Which might be more tol­er­a­ble were any of the con­tent that filled this huge space worth your time. The flat, un­in­ter­est­ing com­bat hasn’t just been trans­planted into this ninth game, it has some­how been wors­ened. If a game is sim­ply about run­ning around and cut­ting down armies of en­e­mies, you’d think that would at least be the one thing it gets right. And yet the com­bat is as life­less as the set­ting. En­e­mies hud­dle around, barely even ac­knowl­edg­ing your pres­ence as you ap­proach ready to cut them down in droves. You don’t feel like a mer­ci­less killing ma­chine or a tri­umphant hero. You’re a gar­dener do­ing the de-weed­ing.

Bad dog

With no chal­lenge from your en­e­mies (ex­cept for the wolves. Those god damn wolves of­fer more chal­lenge than all of China’s armies com­bined), there’s no rea­son to learn what lit­tle depth ex­ists within the com­bat. And given that the world is filled with lit­tle more than large groups of en­e­mies to be slain, there’s no re­ally com­pelling rea­son to chase each and ev­ery way­point. Af­ter an hour of play you’ll look at the map and see all the tasks re­main­ing, only to find your­self ex­hausted at the mere thought of do­ing any of it. Dy­nasty War­riors 9 isn’t just the lat­est for­get­table en­try in a se­ries of ut­terly dis­pos­able games—it’s a dis­ap­point­ment in a se­ries of ut­terly dis­pos­able games. De­spite the low­est of hur­dles to clear,

Dy­nasty War­riors 9 has leapt for more pros­per­ous ground only to crash far be­low. This isn’t just an in­sult to its fans, this is an in­sult to his­tory. A crass ren­di­tion of a fas­ci­nat­ing time pe­riod that of­fers noth­ing as game or fic­tion. A trav­esty.

far left No en­emy is more fear­some in An­cient China than wolves. For some rea­son.

left Look for­ward to many hours of char­ac­ters stand­ing round, look­ing blank and giv­ing ex­po­si­tion.

right The char­ac­ters cer­tainly look cool in mo­tion.

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