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August 12, 2006
Dynasty Warriors 5 Empires - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
288KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneNo

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dw5e are perfectly recreated.
It’s quite unusual for a game series to reach over ten games, but Dynasty Warriors is now in that very elite group. Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires is the latest in the franchise, but is the series reaching its autumn years, or just getting started? Well, while we can only guess at the answers to these questions, this title might suggest that, unless developers Omega Force can shape up a bit for next-gen titles, this may be one of the last additions to the multi-million selling series.

The games story is, once again, set in Ancient China; however, as with many of the previous titles, the story really is superfluous. The game is in no major way plot driven, and with the exception of a handful of cut-scenes, there is little that gives the player very much insight into the story behind the game. Basically the game is a series of battles for a general, and his army, to take over the entire of China. This can all be done over and over again with each of the many different generals (with apparently over 200 characters) if the player is so inclined, but the majority of players are probably only going to give this a single play through, perhaps a second play one day in the future.

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Rankng up with a heap of gold.
Unfortunately, while the Dynasty Warriors combat system may have been enough to pull the game through many previous titles, it is beginning to wear thin and very little has been changed for this release. Once again players control an officer in battle, commanding their army with very basic offence, defense and so on commands. Essentially, it is a Dynasty Warriors 5 version of DW4: Empires, with a similar turn-based strategy system (with around 75 different possible actions this time) put in place to help, or hinder, your army while they take on the rest of China. At the beginning of each turn players are given the option of a whole host of different actions that can be done, ranging from training, to trading, to hiring new officers, to encouraging the common people to act particular ways. While this is all fairly cool, by the 30th turn or so you really begin to wish for a bit of variety as many options are repeated far too often.

As well as the main ‘Empire’ mode, there is a free mode which allows you to play many single battles with pre-set conditions. This free mode holds some interest as it can be played with two players split-screen, allowing players to fight each other, or ally together to invade or defend a region against the AI. As well as these two modes, the game also includes an ‘Edit’ mode where players can create their own general, and an Encyclopedia and Archive, full of much unlockable content.

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The battle map.
Sadly, this strategy side to the game is definitely one of the strongest aspects of the game. With the in-game battle system being incredibly repetitive, after a few battles all but the most die-hard fans will probably find themselves putting down the game for the day. The AI in the game is also a big problem, with very little improvements made since DW5; the majority of soldiers on the battle field will merely stand there and attack only so often. This is then contrasted when your officer meets an opposing officer, who will then become quite annoyingly difficult, blocking the majority of your attacks and interrupting your combos. Coming up against a few of these at once proves to be a test of the players skills and, more importantly, timing.

It also seems that the in-game graphics have been left alone again, meaning that is looks almost identical to Dynasty Warriors 5, which at its time was good, but now looks quite dated. This is, perhaps, slightly compensated for, with the character models looking quite nice and detailed, as usual, but then the majority of the levels are very bland, empty and quite flat, making for a fairly bleak-looking game. The biggest redeeming feature graphically is the fact that there can, at times, be well over 30 or 40 enemies on screen without any sign of a frame rate drop, even as you attack, striking a dozen soldiers with each swing.

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Just starting a battle.
Previous Dynasty Warrior titles have never been liked for their sound, with voice acting often entirely wrong, badly cast and horrible dialogue as well as music that doesn’t fit in, and a fairly sparse selection of in-battle effects. Unfortunately, DW5: Empires remains true to the series, containing all these flaws. There is something amazingly wrong about Chinese warlords who sound more English than most English game characters, and the music, while quite nice in itself, is entirely wrong for the game and setting. Fans of the series will probably like the fact that the soundtracks to Dynasty Warrior 2, 3 and 4 are all included with this release and can be selected in the options.

So it seems that, once again, the series has simply churned out another release of the same. The turn-based strategic elements are very nice, and the battle-system is O.K. to start off with, but after a battle or two the entire game becomes quite repetitive, and this is its main problem. For players who have never picked up a Dynasty Warriors title, this is perhaps one of the better releases to start with, but unless you are a die-hard collector of the series, stick to the other titles already in your collection. They are basically the same.

Review By: Michael Hutchesson

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version).
GRAPHICSBased on the DW5 engine and certainly showing its age.
SOUNDHorrible voice acting, bad dialogue, a lack of in-game sounds and wrongly styled music. At least there is surround sound.
GAMEPLAYTypical formula. Massive battles and lots of button mashing. Fun for a bit, then very repetitive. Limited, even if the strategy elements are nice.
VALUEPlenty of unlockable content, but mostly from previous titles. Offers die-hard fans countless play throughs.
OVERALLA great title for a newcomer to the series. Casual fans should stay away while die-hards will love it. More problems than strengths.

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