Dynasty Warriors 7 was released in North America on March 29th for both Xbox 360 and PS3. The game boasts the largest and most varied roster of characters of any Dynasty Warriors game yet. But is this enough to reinvigorate a franchise that many critics have called old and tired?
The story mode of Dynasty Warriors 7 is completely different from its predecessors. Instead of choosing an officer from one of the Three Kingdoms and then playing through that specific Kingdom’s story using only them, you simply choose a Kingdom itself to play. Picking Wei, for example, you will play through the Wei storyline and take control over a different character during each mission (sometimes one you have already played in a previous mission). This allows the Story Mode to focus more on plot, as it should, rather than the character you chose.
There are a lot more cutscenes and back-story in Dynasty Warriors 7 than previous games in the franchise. Although the other games were rich in plot and history, DW7 takes it to a new level and really immerses the player in the Three Kingdoms culture. Before each mission you can walk around the main camp and speak with other soldiers and fellow officers. The voice acting is superb and all the right characters have just the right amount of cheesiness to them.
Each campaign is pretty lengthy as well. The Wei campaign alone took about as long to clear as the single player portion of most shooting games today. This is probably because you no longer need to play through each Kingdom’s story multiple times in order to do everything and unlock everybody. There are now four Kingdoms to choose from with Jin being added to the usual suspects of Shu, Wu, and Wei.
In addition to Story Mode, Dynasty Warriors 7 also features Conquest Mode which replaces the “free mode” from the previous game. In Conquest Mode, you do pick a character to play as. This allows you to try out officers you might not have gotten a chance to be in the Story Mode. With a roster of over 60 characters, that is bound to be quite a few people.
After choosing a character, you are brought to a stage select screen. Here you can choose which battles to fight or which cities to enter. There are various things to do in cities such as leave weapons to be upgraded by blacksmiths, buy new weapons and items, talk to other officers, or answer historical trivia questions posed to you by scholars. These questions can often be a little too difficult, however, such as which direction Zhuge Liang prayed the wind to blow at the Battle of Chibi.
One of the most important aspects of Conquest Mode is increasing your relationships with other officers called “bonds.” You can improve your bond with other officers by aiding them in a battle or talking to them when they visit you in a city. Once your bond level is high enough, they will become a permanent ally and help you in all future battles. You can also temporarily hire allies at the cost of 1,000 gold per battle. Doing this will send out a call for help and they will appear on the battlefield during your next fight. This also improves your bond with that particular officer.
Conquest Mode also features co-operative online play, but it seems as if nobody plays it. I wasn’t able to find even a single game online to play which is a real disappointment. This could be due to the fact that the online multiplayer is buried in the settings menu of Conquest Mode when there should be a multiplayer tab right on the main menu of the game.
There is enough content on Dynasty Warriors 7 to keep players occupied for dozens and dozens of hours. But how is the actual gameplay?
Dynasty Warriors 7 features pretty much the same gameplay that fans are used to. It is a hack and slash beat ’em up like all the others. As similar as it is to previous games, veterans of the franchise will find enough new in DW7 to renew their interest in the franchise. These changes vary from small refinements such as adding an arrow pointing towards an enemy officer in battle so you don’t lose them in the crowd to major additions such as a new weapons system.
In this new weapons system, characters have the ability to equip pretty much any weapon and switch between two different weapons in real-time during battle. Not just any character can use any weapon, however, as each character has various skill levels with different weapons. So for example, big ol’ Xu Zhu would not be able to competently wield a quick weapon that required finesse. Sure you could make him use it, but it would be much less effective than the large strength-oriented weapons that fit his character more properly. In addition, each character also has one weapon they are particularly adept in. Using that weapon will allow them to perform an EX Attack.
Another change is the skill point system. Upon defeating an officer, you will earn skill points. These points can then be used to learn extra attacks, a second musou gauge, or gain permanent increases to your stats. Officers can learn up to six normal attacks, six strong attacks, two musou attacks, and one EX Attack. There’s enough variety in attacks, weapons, and characters to ensure that battles never get repetitive.
The biggest problem with the gameplay is the camera. Sometimes when you are fighting an enemy officer, you’ll get turned around so that your character is actually facing towards the screen with the enemy out of view. This can be very frustrating, especially when it leads to you being hit when you are trying to readjust your view. It would have been better had the camera just been fixed behind the character.
In conclusion, Dynasty Warriors 7 is a game filled with tons of quality content. Any fan of the Dynasty Warriors franchise will love this game as it simply improves upon everything that made the other games good. There are enough features that have been added to make it feel like a completely new experience. On the other hand, players who have never played a Dynasty Warriors game before will also be able to enjoy DW7. Thanks to the robust Story Mode, Dynasty Warriors 7 serves as a fantastic introduction to a series that has a long and rich history.