For those who love the Dynasty Warriors game franchise, the latest instalment may leave them feeling as hollow as the terracotta warriors of the Qin dynasty.
The first Dynasty Warriors was released in 1997 as a 3-D fighter similar to Tekken, but subsequent entries in the franchise have followed the now-familiar one-versus-many beat-em-up formula. All of the games’ storylines are loosely set during history of the Three Kingdoms (Wu, Wei and Shu) of 3rd century China, with expansions to the series – Xtreme Legends and Empires – featuring add-on content like new weapons, characters and strategies.
Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires, an exclusive downloadable game for the PlayStation 3, starts off in typical hack-and-slash fashion. And while I’ve been a fan of that aspect of the franchise since Dynasty Warriors 4, this empire seems to lose control fast.
The game doesn’t recognize saved profiles from the previous two instalments, Xtreme Legends and the original Dynasty Warriors 7, which I found troublesome. After playing for over a year, trying to unlock all of the available third-century weapons, there was hope inside me that I wouldn’t have spare more time trying to re-unlock everything for Empires.
Not so. Strike one.
Empires was released in North America Feb. 26, a week after its European debut, and the reason for the digital download is due to a lack of an English dub. So be prepared to enter a Three Kingdoms China melee with officers who speak Japanese.
Linguistic idiosyncrasies aside, fans of the Dynasty Warriors franchise will find Empires offers little in the way of new features. There is some more in-depth strategy, as well as the ability to create up to 200 warriors and a new fame system that allows you to choose your path to glory – be brave, wise, kind, orderly, affluent or evil – through political shrewdness or prowess on the battlefield.
But the previous two games under the Dynasty Warriors 7 mantle had detailed vignette cutscenes for every milestone reached. Empires doesn’t deliver in that visual department.
After whipping through two campaigns in two days, the replay factor of this game is limited, and that’s what draws fans of the franchise to it in the first place.
Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires is still worthy of a have-at, but for those who don’t have a warm spot for pseudo-historical characters like Cao Cao, Liu Bei or Lu Bu, the game may get lost in the din of the battlefield.
Originally posted on the Sun and Canoe website, March 7, 2013