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September 20, 2003
Dynasty Warriors 4 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
27/6/2003THQKoei1M15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
KBStereoYesNoNoneNo

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Check out the enemies on screen.
Keoi have become a remarkable company in the gaming industry due to their uncanny ability to develop (along with Omega Force) a game full of Asian influences, history, stats and storylines and yet make that game accessible to Westerners. Dynasty Warriors 2 was released very early in the Playstation 2's life (2000 to be exact) and earned much respect due to its technical accomplishments. The sequel Dynasty Warriors 3 (released in 2002) took the same game expanded the size and number of levels and added more spit and polish to the mix. This fourth title is much the same, but once again improves in almost all areas.

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23 kills - just the start.
Dynasty Warriors 4 returns to the era found in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games, that being ancient China. The gameplay essentially remains the same as past Dynasty Warrior games with hack and slash styled action on a massive scale. When I talk massive I'm talking about levels involving not hundreds but thousands of soldiers, dozens of smaller scale battles and a long time to run from one side of the map to the other (often around 5 minutes). After selecting a character it's into the game which consists of 50 levels on 17 different maps. The range of moves, as with previous titles, in the series is limited with normal attacks and more powerful attacks which use the musou levels, which your character builds up. It's also possible to enter into a one-on-one dual with a general from the opposition to concentrate on the single fight and not worry about the action around you. Definitely fun.

The biggest change in this game over the earlier versions is the AI of the enemy soldiers, the game now seems a lot more realistic, and a lot tougher, although there is still room for improvement. If you're on a bit of a rampage and slashing up every enemy insight the remaining soldiers may run away. If they're inflicting some damage on your side they may stay around and fight longer. Even the lowly infantrymen now prove to be a dangerous opponent. They’ll take a swing at you, and when you're taking on several at one don't expect to come away without some scratches. The AI of your own soldiers, however, leaves much to be desired. The still seem as dumb as ever. It can be 10 on 1 and your soldiers just seem to stand around waiting for you to go in and make the final kill.

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An English version screen.
Another change to the game is the reduction in pickups found in earlier games. This makes you protect your life and Musou a little more and also plan attacks a little more carefully. The bow and arrows have had their accuracy and effectiveness reduced somewhat and while still disruptive to your attacks they won't cause you as much damage. The developers have also spent more time ensuring that the balance of the gameplay and solders is a little more even making the battles a much tougher proposition at times.

The biggest improvement with the graphics is the rock solid frame rate. While Dynasty Warriors 3 struggled at times to keep up the pace, this game shows no signs of slowdown at all, or very, very rarely. The detail levels have been improved slightly with some wonderful detail on the characters, and especially the higher-ranking soldiers and generals. The backgrounds are fairly bland and fogging and draw in for distant enemies still makes an appearance, something which won't change until Koei move to more powerful hardware.

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Nice lion wall carving.
One of the most contentious issues with this game is the dubbing of Japanese voices with the English voices, and after listening to the horrendous English voices I'm all for retaining the Japanese speech for future titles. Actually better still would be to use Chinese voices seeing as the game is set in China! Not only does it make the game sound more authentic, but we will be spared from having to buy ear plugs. The music also needs to be revamped the rock styled music isn't really suited to this style of game. I would much rather listen to some Chinese orchestral music. Fortunately the game is saved with some impressive sound effects.

Dynasty Warriors 4 is yet another improved game in the series. Without more powerful hardware the company will never be able to show the battlefields without some fogging in the distance or reduction in the number of characters on screen in the backgrounds. The difficulty has been ramped up and the AI has also undergone some changes for the better. The number of characters and levels has increased dramatically and fans of the series will not be disappointed.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSOnce again marginal improvements over previous games.
89%
SOUNDMusic is rock, speech is horrendous but at least the effects are nice.
78%
GAMEPLAYIdentical to past games, with bigger levels and more variety.
85%
VALUEPlenty of levels, characters and changing scenarios to keep you busy.
90%
OVERALLOnce again the Dynasty Warriors series has evolved ever so slightly. If you didn't tire of the previous games then Dynasty Warriors 4 is well worth a look. Likewise if you've never played one of the games it's worth a look - but be warned - it can get repetitive.
89%

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