Up Up Down Down: Dynasty Warriors 8
The Dynasty Warriors series has been around for a long time. What started out as a traditional fighting game for the PSone in 1997 subsequently turned into a crowd-based hack-and-slash series that doesn't take itself too seriously despite being rooted in Chinese history. The latest installment, Dynasty Warriors 8, has received much praise for continuing the series' hectic action while also adding a handful of welcome refinements.
Admittedly, Dynasty Warriors 8 was my first romp with Tecmo Koei and Omega Force's hack-and-slash series, but I quickly got into it and had a great time playing. Still, it wasn't without a few noticeable flaws.
Up Up: Crazy, fast-paced action
The first thing that stands out about Dynasty Warriors 8 is how accessible it is. Though you're constantly outnumbered by a few hundred foes at all times, you always have a fighting chance. Your attacks have such a far reach that you can easily assault 10 or 20 enemies simultaneously. Juggling that many characters looks absolutely ridiculous, but it's all a part of the frenetic tomfoolery of Dynasty Warriors 8.
Down Down: Higher difficulties are for diehard fans only
If you're playing on the game's normal difficulty setting, you're bound to have a fun, easygoing time. Toggle a higher option, though, and things get tough fast. In fact, there was one character I just couldn't beat, even on normal (thankfully he was an optional enemy). Once you move on past normal, you can't just mindlessly slice and dice your way through. So unless you're highly devoted to this series, just stick to the normal setting. That's what I did, and my time with the game was all the more entertaining for it.
Up Up: Rock-paper-scissors element is a nice touch
Weapon Affinity adds a rock-paper-scissors aspect to Dynasty Warriors 8. You can equip three weapon types: Heaven, Earth, and Man. Due to some weapons being stronger over others, the blades and clubs you choose before heading into battle can have a direct impact on how well you fare. So if you're armed with an axe that has a Heaven affinity, you'll do more damage to an opponent whose sword has Man affinity. Likewise, if you instead go with tonfa that have an Earth affinity, you'll do less damage to that same enemy.
Down Down: Characters talk way too much during battles
Given that this game is all about group warfare, it'd be foolish to expect characters to stay quiet the entire time. Obviously, if your fellow commanders are being decimated, the game's going to let you know that they're pulling out of battle. But the characters in Dyasty Warriors 8 talk way too much. They also repeat the same lines often, which can get annoying, especially considering that subtitles pop up at the bottom of the screen, annoyingly taking up space that could be used to just see the game in action.
Up Up: Multiple campaigns, modes, and difficulties make for a loaded game
If you're looking for a game with a lot of content, Dynasty Warriors 8 offers exactly that. There are four main campaigns, as well as an extra campaign that doesn't star the leading factions. You'll get a solid challenge on account of the game's multiple difficulty settings, too. Free Mode lets you revisit previous battles as you wish. And Ambition Mode tasks you with winning battles to earn resources and capital. If you stick with Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition, you get even more content in the form of new challenges to tackle.
Down Down: Can get repetitive
Even with the added Weapon Affinity mechanic and all of the extra content, Dynasty Warriors 8 is still a straight-up action game. That means it isn't necessarily an especially deep experience despite being so much fun. As a result, some players could grow bored of it after a few dozen hours. Personally, I found myself needing a break of a few days in between each main campaign. That's not to say I was ever terribly bored, but after doing a lot of the same things over and over again, I definitely felt some gameplay fatigue.
Left Right Left Right: Dynasty Warriors 8 is an over-the-top good time
Dynasty Warriors has been a successful franchise for a reason: It delivers its brand of action gameplay in a way that gets you hooked and doesn't strive to be something it's not. Because of that, a rabid fan base has grown to love these games. Meanwhile, the series' overall lack of evolution is what's kept others from playing. Ultimately, Dynasty Warriors 8 sticks to the familiar blueprint closely while implementing a few enhancements, creating an experience that fans will recall while also making the whole thing just a bit more refined than before.
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