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August 17, 2013
Dynasty Warriors 8 - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
25/7/2013MindscapeTecmoKoeiOmega Force1-22
Media HDD Install Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Characters look great in Dynasty Warriors 8.
It has been a couple of years since I have fired up a Dynasty Warriors game so it was with some interest that I checked out Dynasty Warriors 8 when I got it for review. Had developers Omega Force pushed the series further in the last couple of years? Well let me tell you...

Dynasty Warriors 8 is set in ancient China when the land was split into three kingdoms. The war is still in full swing and after selecting your warrior it's onto the battlefield where you will take on hundreds, if not thousands, of enemies. With multiple kingdoms and multiple characters in each of these kingdoms there are plenty of storylines to explore in this title, if you have the patience and understand the large number of both playable, and non-playable, characters in the game.

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Each character has special, powerful moves.
For those of you that haven't seen this franchise over the last 13 years, since Dynasty Warriors 2 this franchise is a open-world hack and slash title which sees you, with some AI controlled allies, entering a large scale battle with an opposing army. Almost certainly outnumbered many times over, progress is made by taking out enemies, with a focus being on the more powerful Commanders or main characters in the storyline. Naturally these characters are more able then the lower fodder and will block and perform special attacks which inflict major damage.

The battlefield is also littered with pickups dropped by enemies including new weapons, improved damage, shields or faster movement as well as Musou which allows you to perform special, more powerful, attacks. It's also possible to enter a Storm Rush Mode which gives your warrior their best weapon, and an ability to break your foe's strongest defence.

Dynasty Warriors 8 contains three main game modes, a Story Mode, a Free Mode and an Ambition Mode. The first two of these should be familiar to fans of the franchise - the first allows you to pick a character and follow their story through the numerous battles. The Free Mode allows you to select any of the unlocked characters and simply jump into a battle. Nice and easy.

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It's common to be surrounded by enemies.
It's the Ambition Mode which may hold the most interest for returning players. After selecting your character you will go on missions, and assuming you succeed, will unlock allies which will then return to your base camp where they can be selected to battle in future missions. Missions will also give you supplies to help build your township which, in turn increases your "status" within the game world, and perhaps garner the attention of the Emperor to join your cause. It's not overly deep, but we're sure fans could spend quite a few days in this mode building their township, and roster of allies.

One of the big additions to this game over Dynasty Warriors 7 is the ability to play the game through the story in a 2-player co-op mode any of the game modes - Story, Free or Ambition. The previous game only allowed a single player story experience so it's nice to see the developers put some effort here in such a connected world. Admittedly we didn't play the game online too much as we were having connection issues, but what we did play was enjoyable enough. Still, we would love to see the developers push this further in future (more on that later).

The game does come with a couple of other niceties including a pretty detailed Encyclopedia so you can get more background on the Three Kingdoms story, and also a Gallery which includes the movies and character models from the game.

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Note the similarity in enemy characters.
Don't get me wrong, this game is fine for what it is, but ultimately Dynasty Warriors 8 stumbles because it's what we've seen before, several times over. Sure, there's a co-op mode, many more characters, nicer visuals and much deeper story and a few extra modes, but at it's core the gameplay will be very familiar to many gamers. In fact, the core gameplay hasn't really changed much since the PS2 days although the developers have expanded the special attacks and powers, but it's still a button masher at its core.

Unfortunately, while the battlefields are pretty massive, they are also pretty bland with dull texturing, and generic looking buildings and locations. This certainly dilutes much of the excitement of exploring levels which would be interesting if there were actually places made interesting to explore by visuals alone.

Developers Omega Force really need to step this franchise up, and we can see no better way then to introduce large-scale online battles. Sure, the PS3 may not have the power to do this but the developers could have made inroads to test for the much more powerful, inevitable, next-generation console versions.

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Dynasty Warriors 8 CG is often breathtaking.
Visually Dynasty Warriors 8 is a bit of a mixed bag. There is no doubt that the intro video is a stunning introduction to the game, and the menus are decent enough, but its the gameplay that needs to shine and on that count this game is, yet again, a mixed bag. On a positive side the pre-rendered cut-scenes are simply gorgeous with a quality that matches the best of them (that generally being Square-Enix). Design and animations on the main characters also impresses with a wonderful level of detail and smoothness.

Unfortunately there are some negative to the visuals too not least of which is the amount of draw in for the environment and the enemies that will swarm you on regular occasions. Indeed when you're surrounded by enemies you may only see them a few characters deep, but run forward and these enemies often appear from nowhere. Of course the PS3 is now aging hardware and with only 512MB of RAM we can see the issue with very limited character types and numbers, but hopefully that will change with the PS4 if this game ever gets ported, or perhaps subsequent sequels, which you know are certain to appear at some stage. We mentioned earlier the impressive playable characters but the same can't be said of the enemies who look generic and often move in unison.

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Now that's one massive sword!
If you're thinking the audio would redefine expectations you're going to be disappointed. Yet again this game gets the job done with the highlight being the, we're guessing, hours of recorded speech that actually sounds moderately decent - at least compared to many other games in the franchise, and many poorly dubbed Asian films. Music is upbeat and generally suits the action pretty well, but when battles last around an hour it does become somewhat irritating.

The PlayStation 3 is now mature hardware and developers around the globe are pushing out some fantastic titles, the problem with Dynasty Warriors 8 is that it really doesn't excite on any level despite meeting expectations and probably being the best, most complete, title in the franchise for some years. One for die-hard fans, or those that haven't explored the franchise for a few years.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSVisuals improve very incrementally with every release, but it's rarely impressive.
SOUNDVoice acting is decent enough, but music and effects becoming grating after a while.
GAMEPLAYHack, slash, magic, hack, slash, magic. Some minor tweaks but essentially the same game.
VALUEIt's $9 (or thereabouts) but despite some new modes this is more of the same that can become repetitive.
OVERALLDynasty Warriors 8 will be instantly familiar to fans of the franchise, but yet again it really advances little on a tried and tested formula.

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