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July 17, 2005
Dynasty Warriors 5 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
24/6/2005THQOmega Force1-2MMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
150KBDolby Pro Logic IIYesNoNoneNo

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Attacking the enemy stronghold.
There is little doubt that one of the biggest success stories of the current generation has been the massive popularity of Koei's Dynasty Warriors games. In Japan alone each new release typically races past a million sales, which puts up there with titles in Pro Evolution Soccer, Devil May Cry or even Onimusha. It really is quite remarkable. What's even more remarkable is that the game not only gets a release outside Asia (especially with the heavy historical rhetoric), but also manages to sell in fairly strong numbers. Dynasty Warriors 5 is actually the fourth game in the main series on PS2 (the first Dynasty Warriors appeared on PSOne) and the 10th if you include all the spin-off titles. The question remains, are Koei just rehashing the same thing, or is the series evolving?

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Graphics are a little better.
Set in Ancient China Dynasty Warriors 5 takes place during the Romance of the Three Kingdoms timeline, but in reality the story means little. You see this game, like the previous titles, is all about large-scale action on a massive battlefield. Taking control of a character it's not long before you heading into massive battles. Your task - kill everything that isn't friendly. The gameplay is very similar to that in previous titles including Dynasty Warriors 4. That is, you run around a level slaughtering hundreds, and often around a thousand enemies before claiming victory. It's simple, its fun but it can be repetitive so if it doesn't sound like something that would interest you it probably won't.

There are a couple of new features in this title. One of these includes the new bodyguards. During the game a bodyguard will stay close to you, and they can fight rather then being the fodder from previous titles. More importantly these bodyguards can now level up in the stats. It's also possible to collect several bodyguard officers and save them for later use. Perhaps even more spectacular is performing a tandem musou attack which is absolutely spectacular as both yourself and your bodyguard obliterate everything in your immediate area.

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Ermm, where are their heads?
Another new feature to this game is the stronghold which acts like a fortified position on the map. The army who holds this position has a big advantage during the battle. It's a pretty neat addition from the Empires game and one which adds a little more strategy to the game.

What really disappoints with this game is the lack of fresh ideas and elements. The perfect example of this is the fact that of the 48 characters in the game - which is an impressive number - the developers at Omega Force could only manage to include six new characters from previous titles. The storylines and dialogue are certainly another area where Koei need to seriously invest some money in future. Not only do the characters sound ridiculous but the dialogue is corny at the extreme. It may work in the Japanese market but Western gamers must be really struggling with this.

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Nice cut-scenes.
Due to the number of characters on screen the Dynasty Warriors titles have always been plagued with draw-in and fogging issues and Dynasty Warriors 5 is no exception although the developers have improved this somewhat for this title. The character design is quite special with each of the main soldiers brilliantly realised in the game. The game also includes some lovely cinematics telling the story during the game - this is one area which Koei always seem to get right.

In contrast sound has never been a strong point in Koei's titles, and indeed this game is no exception. While the sound effects on the battlefield are adequate the voice acting is very, very average and the dialogue quite terrible in parts. While you would expect some wonderful sweeping orchestral sounds for the music it isn't the case with some very annoying 'modernized' music in its place. Disappointing. At least the surround sound adds some atmosphere.

Dynasty Warriors 5 is a great title if you've never owned any of the previous titles, no doubt about it. If you did own the previous games you'll have to be a pretty big fan in order to see the enhancements and value in this title - even at $79.95. Ultimately this is a series which seems to be stagnating with only a few new innovations over previous title. Still, this is a very fun title that will keep you playing - and killing - for days.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Amazon (NTSC Version) or Games Warehouse (PAL Version)
GRAPHICSCertainly the best in the series, but starting to look slightly dated.
SOUNDSound here is the same as previous titles, terrible speech.
GAMEPLAYThis is classic Dynasty Warriors. Fun, frantic and massive battles.
VALUEThere's a lot here, if you own a previous game it's questionable value.
OVERALLKoei better make some changes before the next title to freshen it up, but Dynasty Warriors 5 is still a great title for fans of the series or newcomers alike.

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