Woo yeah, Dynasty Warriors! I love this series to death; it has heaps of re-playability, a huge roster of characters you can play, lots of unlockables, and anyone can pick it up and have a go. If you’re unfamiliar with this series, it’s a hack and slash game with a story loosely based on the historical Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The three kingdoms of Wei, Wu and Shu, each with different leaders, have the same goal of uniting China under their own banner, but each has a different idea on how to go about it. The Chinese novel was based on actual events, so most of the characters in Dynasty Warriors are just re-imagined versions of their historical counterparts.
Dynasty Warriors: NEXT is the latest instalment of the series made for the Playstation Vita. As with other games in this series, you control a character, generally of your choosing (some maps in the story mode choose a particular character for you) and you have to hack-and-slash your way through masses of enemies and try to capture their main base. In Dynasty Warriors: NEXT, the maps are also peppered with smaller bases, each having different bonuses for the army of the side which captures it. These bonuses include restoring health, temporary attack boosts and reinforcements.
As this game was a launch title for the Vita, it was obvious that it would utilise particular features of the hardware to show off its capabilities. If you’ve ever played any previous Dynasty Warriors titles before, you’re probably wondering how the hell you integrate the gyroscope and touch screens into a game which has the simplest of controls – generally ‘square’ is your normal melee attack, ‘triangle’ is your strong attack, ‘x’ is jump and ‘circle’ is your special super attack called ‘Musou Attack’. This simple control scheme doesn’t change, you mash ‘Square’ with a couple of ‘triangle’s thrown in every now and then and you get really awesome looking combos.
What Omega Force have done to integrate Vita features is pretty awesome, although it took a little bit of getting used to. Generally when you activate a ‘Musou Attack’ in Dynasty Warriors, your character does a short sequence in executing a really flashy special attack and you direct the attack in whichever way you choose. In Dynasty Warriors: NEXT, each character’s ‘Musou Attack’ is control by either the touch screen or gyroscope. For example, the big guy with a giant club? As he slams his club into the ground, you shake your Vita in time with his attacks to maximise the area of effect. That guy with a sword? Do a flicking motion left and right across the front touch screen as if you’re slashing the sword yourself. One of my favourites is executed by characters with ‘magic’ attacks, where you trace the back touch screen to direct the attack.
There are also quick-time events that happen randomly on the field called ‘Accidental Battles’. Basically a bunch of enemies will come at you and you either have to swipe or tap the front or back touchscreen, depending on the type of event that happens. For example a bunch of enemies may appear in front of you throwing projectiles at you, and you have to swipe away all the objects coming at you. These events don’t last 10 seconds, so they’re quick and if you complete them fast enough, you usually get rewarded with an item. If you get hit, the event ends early and you take some damage, but that’s it.
Dynasty Warriors: NEXT also has a refined version of their old duelling system. Basically when you came up against another named, high-ranking officer, you’d enter a sequence where you’re in an arena with them and have to fight it out one-on-one. In this game, the camera will change to a scene with just you and your opponent, and you have to fight in a quick-time event style duel. You can either block, charge and execute a strong attack, or swipe the screen in a normal attack. The idea is to read your opponent, when they’re about to attack a prompt comes up for you to flick in a certain direction to break their attack, when they charge just do a normal attack to break it. It was tricky for me to get the hang of it, since I didn’t quite understand what was going on, but once I got the hang of it I didn’t mind it so much.
I haven’t yet had a go of the multiplayer aspect, as no one I know actually has a Vita or Dynasty Warriors: NEXT yet, although I hope to have a go in the next couple weeks as a few of my friends have played with my Vita and this game and now want to purchase the console and game!
One last thing I’d like to mention about this game is the graphics. They’re pretty damn amazing for a hand held console. There’s only a few times where the game started lagging on me, and that’s when I was executing all the big special attack combos in all their flashy special effect glory within a huge gathering of enemies, and even then it didn’t lag too noticeably. The characters you control look absolutely amazing – I’ve always loved the character designs in this series, and there is something about their designs in this game which make me squeal in glee and want to cosplay every single one of them. The grunts and environments aren’t textured as well as your character, but you move so often and so fast in this game, you really don’t notice. It’s a good design call on Tecmo-Koei’s part, because you’re constantly focused on the character you’re controlling – having them look stunning brings the best out of everything else around them.
Overall, I feel Dynasty Warriors: NEXT is an excellent instalment to the Dynasty Warriors series. Over the last few games, (6 and 7 and their expansions specifically) I felt like Omega Force were trying to figure out new things which they could add to the games to make them more fun, but without reinventing the whole damn thing. This game is different enough to stay interesting, but not so unfamiliar as to pull something like a Final Fantasy XIII on fans.
Editor’s Note: At the time of posting this a demo of this game is available for download via the PlayStation Store so if you are interested you can try it out there.
This game was reviewed using a copy purchased by the writer