Dynasty Warriors 6 - PS2 - Review
Dynasty Warriors hasn’t been kind to PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 2 owners haven’t been kind back. Though the series has sold well enough to put it in the 15+ million category (combined worldwide sales across all platforms), it is no longer regarded as the premiere hack-n-slash game – a title the first Dynasty Warriors held when it was released more than 10 years ago.
That hasn’t stopped KOEI and developer Omega Force from trying to get it right, as they have done repeatedly with more than a dozen Dynasty Warrior sequels, sub-games and spin-offs. For a while you couldn’t go more than a season or two without seeing a new “Warriors” release. But with the decline of PS2 development, KOEI has moved many of its games to new consoles, including the PS3/Xbox 360-exclusive Dynasty Warriors: Gundam.
We aren’t likely to see Gundam (or its sequel) land on PS2, but KOEI must have felt that one more Dynasty Warriors game was in order. Rather than move ahead with DW7, the publisher decided to release Dynasty Warriors 6 – which was brought to Xbox 360 and PS3 earlier this year – on PS2.
That New Game Smell
Since most DW fans have already taken the sixth chapter for a spin, the PS2 version comes with a few adjustments. If you want to play the numbers game, there are 41 playable characters (the same as the 360/PS3 version), 19 stages and 45 scenarios from the previous version, five bonus stages and 10 bonus scenarios (exclusive to the PS2 version), and several PS2-exclusive weapon changes.
Die-hard fans should instantly notice their inclusion. Everyone else, however, may be left scratching their heads. None of the “new” content jumped off the screen. I started the game as I always do, chose a cool-looking character, watched the opening CG movie, and began hacking away at the plethora of opponents. It was pure Dynasty Warriors action – the same kind that was present in the original. After taking a break from the series, the hack-n-slash insanity could be fun again. But there are several technical issues that prevent it from bringing Dynasty Warriors back to glory.
KOEI has promoted the contents of the Musou mode as being something fresh and new to Dynasty Warriors 6. But after starting a game and playing through a few levels, there didn’t seem to be anything new about it. Peruse the manual and you’ll discover that the Musou mode allows you to “adjust the settings of your officers and difficulty.” No other explanation is given. In practice, players will see and play the same-old single-player quest where brief story tidbits are interspersed between lengthy battles of button-mash melees.
Unlike the Xbox 360 version, which runs in 720p, the PS2 version is stuck in the old-school, low-res, 4:3 aspect ratio. That would be fine if the camera system worked, but it hasn’t changed in the past several iterations. The camera still looks weird with angles that are cramped into a tighter viewing area than should be allowed for a game with enemies spanning as far as the eye can see.
Disappointingly, that span isn’t massive as you’d expect. It would be wrong to expect the game to run the same on PS2 as it does on Xbox 360. But while the 360 version was littered with some fog and pop-up, the PS2 version is jam-packed with these problems. Slowdown is a common occurrence, taking the 30-frames-per-second gameplay down to what feels like less than 15fps – a speed deemed too slow for gaming, even eight years ago when PlayStation 2 was first released.
Slowdown occurs every time a large group of characters (friend or foe) approaches the screen. Given that this is a Dynasty Warriors game, you encounter large groups in almost every battle. At any time, near any structure or outdoor environment, characters may appear or disappear. Half the time you won’t even know they are there – or supposed to be there – without staring at the mini-map. On the map, enemies are marked in red, allies are marked in blue. Upon seeing these colors, you’ll wonder why the characters aren’t physically visible in the game where they are marked on the map. Then, all of a sudden, they pop onto the screen.
This combination of flawed technology (an unstable frame rate mixed with disappearing enemies and the occasional character that flickers like a loose light-bulb) makes it difficult to enjoy Dynasty Warriors 6. But even if those issues were removed entirely, that wouldn’t stop players from wondering why the series continues to recycle old levels, gameplay mechanics, and a graphic engine that should have been buried a long time ago. Die-hard fans – certainly not everyone – may notice that you can now climb ladders, a feature that was mysteriously absent from the previous DW releases. But is that really something to get excited about?
Review Scoring Details for Dynasty Warriors 6
More of the same without any gameplay or technological improvements whatsoever. The result is a game that plays like it was designed 10 years ago for hardware far weaker than PlayStation 2.
Fog, pop-up, slowdown, disappearing enemies – these are the graphical errors of a PSone game. And yet the disc says PlayStation 2.
The same-old Dynasty Warriors sounds.
These enemies haven't evolved at all in the past several games.
Almost the exact same game as every other DW title released (the Gundam edition excluded), Dynasty Warriors 6 is a rehash that tries to re-create that new game smell with minor adjustments. Just how minor are they? You'll see a new weapon or two, and some new scenarios that, thanks to poor level design, feel the same as the rest.
Two-player co-op returns without any new content to speak of, but have plenty of control, frame rate and graphical issues.
If this series were to receive a significant upgrade – perhaps via the DW: Gundam sequel – it could finally move beyond its troubled past. For now, unfortunately, it is stuck in a dated, mechanically-challenged form that is all but impossible to enjoy.