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Daniel Golding
13 Mar, 2008

Dynasty Warriors 6 Review

360 Review | Dynner is served.
It would be obvious to suggest that Dynasty Warriors 6 might be the sixth game in the series, but as most fans know, Dynasty Warriors presents a more confusing time line than the ‘am-I-backwards-or-forwards?’ Star Wars saga. First came Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a NES strategy game which spun into Dynasty Warriors, a Tekken-like fighter which hardcore fans maintain isn’t really part of the series. Then came Dynasty Warriors 2, which was really Dynasty Warriors 1 in Japan, as Dynasty Warriors was called Sangokumuso in Japan, while Dynasty Warriors 2 through 6 have had the prefix of Shin Sangokumuso. This, of course is not counting expansions such as Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends or hand-held titles like Dynasty Warriors PSP. So really, the review you see before you is either for Dynasty Warriors 5 or Dynasty Warriors 18, whichever way you look at it. But nominally, it’s number six in the series, and Bob is your father’s mother’s other son. Confused? Good.

Despite some claims to the contrary (“Dynasty Warriors reborn”, claims the official website), if you’ve played most any of these previous games you’ll know what to expect from Dynasty Warriors 6. The core gameplay is still hack-’n-slash, with players relying on button mashing with the occasional strong attack or special thrown in. There are also elements of strategy, with extensive mission preparation menus and an experience system, as well as the occasional fighting game twist. Nevertheless, players will spend the majority of their time uniting China by lacerating hundreds - if not thousands - of enemies throughout labyrinthine arenas and fortresses.

Sword-fodder, come forth!

Sword-fodder, come forth!
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The story of the game is possibly one if its most interesting features, even if it isn’t told particularly well. You play as a variety of characters, all more-or-less attempting to unite ancient China - though if you wanted to play as your favourite character from a prior installment, you might be disappointed, as seven were cut. Similarly, only 17 of the 41 returning characters have a storyline within the campaign, though that’s still quite a hefty number. The individual story arcs, however, aren't particularly compelling and really only serve the traditional and somewhat archaic purpose of providing reward for completion of missions - in other words, they are easily skippable. The basic plot and many of the characters are cribbed from the novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th Century, which lends the game a historical, if not factual, atmosphere. This is aided by the in-game encyclopedia, which will help players out if they don’t know Lu Bu from Zhuge Liang. Not that it matters, though - players with a knowledge of the events won’t be rewarded with anything other than a train-spotting thrill. The single player campaign will provide hardcore players with enough juice to want to unlock every character and finish every scenario, but your average player will just want to finish as soon as possible - if that.

As far as fresh gameplay goes, Dynasty Warriors 6 sticks pretty close to it’s tested formula, with a handful of tweaks. There’s the new dynamic Renbu attack system, which basically increases player strength and variety of attacks depending on how well the player’s character is faring in battle. Dynasty Warriors 6 is also advertised as the first game in the series to include features such as swimming and climbing, but you’ll have to colour us unimpressed. Apart from the fact that climbing ladders hasn’t been revolutionary for a decade, these new abilities are hampered by a camera system obviously geared towards taking out 10 enemies with a twirl of a spike rather than nimble movement.

Quintuplets, eh? And you all joined the army? Amazing!

Quintuplets, eh? And you all joined the army? Amazing!
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In fact, the camera system is indicative of many of the gameplay issues of Dynasty Warriors 6. It is clearly a hangover of the many previous entries in the series - designed for arcade fun, but not tight gameplay. This translates to many other issues with the game. The enemy AI, despite claims of their ‘adaptability’, are mostly canon, or rather, sword-fodder, content to watch you from five metres as you destroy their defenses. At other times, a ‘named’ enemy (that is, an enemy important enough to have his name floating above his or her cranium) will show up and defeat the player in three or four hits. This sort of gameplay allows for the mindless fun that you might have had at the arcade five years ago, but it doesn’t really cut it for a fully-fledged, current-generation game.

It’s also worth noting that multiplayer is restricted to two-player split-screen. Rampaging through enemy camps might seem perfect for online co-op, but it seems Dynasty Warriors hasn’t yet made that transition to the information age. The multiplayer that is enabled is worthwhile, especially as the Double Musou Attack (where two players link up to perform a devastating combo) is only available in this mode. There are also a small variety of distractions from the main game, such as Challenge Mode. This comprises of a small amount of mini-games, including time-based and destruction-based challenges. Our favourite is the intensely bizarre ‘Gauntlet’, where the aim is to collect bags of experience while dodging - you guessed it - stampeding horses.

Curses, I always lose my flaming hoop at the last minute!

Curses, I always lose my flaming hoop at the last minute!
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Though Dynasty Warriors 6 was developed from the ground up for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, visually, it could be at home on the previous generation of consoles. The general look of the game is lackluster, and includes some laughably lazy animations (most culpably, the fade-away ‘destruction’ of guard towers and other objects). The game also features some woeful pop-up, which will have players walk into an empty space only to be surrounded by 30 enemies seconds later. Presumably, all this was to enable the game’s lighting-fast gameplay without sacrificing a good frame-rate, and the game runs beautifully at 60 frames-per-second. However, these issues can only be compared to other recent games like Assassin’s Creed, which successfully crams dozens of different characters on screen without faltering.

The audio of the game is also reasonably uninspired. Characters will shout the same absurd line out on multiple occasions within a single mission (“Another falls to my blade!”, “Another falls to my blade!”, “Another falls to my blade!”, “Anoth…” yeah, okay). The soundtrack is what you’ve come to expect from a Dynasty Warriors game, all 80s metal guitar and ‘oriental’ cheese. It sounds a little like F-Zero X to our ears, but fans may love it.

Ultimately, there’s nothing broken or irretrievably bad about Dynasty Warriors 6, and if you are a fan of the series you will no doubt get a kick out of it. But Dynasty Warriors 6 stands as a towering example of a years-old game masquerading as a fresh start on a new generation of consoles. It’s mutton dressed as lamb, if you will. Dynasty Warriors 6 has a number of interesting features, but ultimately, and sadly, doesn’t provide any reason to pick up the game if you aren’t already a fan.
The Score
Dynasty Warriors 6 is a years-old game masquerading as a new one. Old gameplay and old visuals mean that if we want some crowd-mashing fun, we'll be digging out a previous iteration before this one. 5
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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4 Comments
6 years ago
And I was looking forward to this game too. Mainly because Warriors Orochi was really fun while it lasted and the new character redesigns for DW6 looked very good.
6 years ago
Would've liked a comparison to Dynasty Warriors Gundam and/or Bladestorm, as they've already hit the 360. I've never actually played a proper DW game so I'm not sure how similar they are to the above titles, which I loved to death.
6 years ago
Never caught Bladestorm, but it you loved Gundam, and can cope with the non-huge-robot setting, then you'll probably like this game very much. As I noted in the review, the core gameplay is very similar to most prior incarnations.
6 years ago
Dynasty Warriors is basically Bladestorm minus the strategy, to put it bluntly. Much more fast paced, more of an action style rather than Bladestorm which is an action/RTS hybrid.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  12/03/2008 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  THQ
Genre:
  Fighting
Year Made:
  2008

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