Dynasty Warriors Next Review
The Dynasty Warriors series has endured loads of releases across myriads of platforms. With it's simplistic nature of cutting down thousands of enemy soldiers with a single character, it's either a sore spot for some that say every game is always the same, or a soft spot for those looking for some quick, mindless action satisfaction. While Dynasty Warriors Next does feature the same 1 vs. 1000s gameplay, it brings a lot of new modes specifically for the Vita that are equally as entertaining as felling an army with a single sword.
The story is unchanged here, as you'll basically play witness to a stylized version of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, complete with all the country-taking, backstabbing, and drama filled moments you'd come to expect from the Dynasty games. It's mostly laughable as the voice acting doesn't really seem to improve with every new installment, though that might just be part of the charm. It's a shame that a Japanese voice track wasn't available like it was for Dynasty Warriors 7, which made every cutscene much more believable and bearable.
There is a lot to do in DW Next, which is impressive for a handheld title. You'll definitely be spending a bulk of your time playing the game's main Campaign Mode, which takes you through various battles with predetermined characters, similarly to how DW7 worked as well, though there are a few changes this time around. Before each battle, you're given the choice which part of the map you wish to invade.
You'll also have the option to employ Stratagems that come in the form of beautifully illustrated character cards that grant specific bonuses during levels. You can have up to four stratagems active at a time, but each one costs a certain amount of Gold to activate which depends on your income. These stratagems can give you more ally occupied bases, increase the attack and speed of your army, or even some that increase a particular stat exponentially, but lowers another in return.
Once that's done, it's hack and slash time from there, but thankfully DW Next changes things up a bit here. To cater to the portable gamers, each map is now more bite-sized, rather than the huge maps we're used to seeing in the console iterations. This seems like an almost necessary step for those that like to play on the go, or have shorter commutes.
Besides your standard attack and Musou buttons that fans are accustomed to, there are some new additions. The game now introduces a Chain Attack button which lets you keep your combo going by boosting your character forward toward another group of enemies. There are also a handful of Vita specific actions as well. With your Musou gauge full, you can also activate an alternate move called a Speed Musou by touching both the right and left sides of the screen. This attack then requires some sort of touchscreen or rear touchpad interaction. There is also a new gauge called the Break gauge. When full, a touch of the upper part of the screen will send your character into a frenzy, usually giving you immediate control of the current base you're currently in.
During battle, there are a few new scenarios that could happen, such as an ambush which will either require you to deflect arrows with a flick of the finger or tap on enemies as they get closer. One of the cooler uses of the touchscreen comes in the forms of duels. These are one-on-one fights which somewhat resemble Infinity Blade's combat. You can swipe to swing your weapon, touch and hold to guard, or touch various indicated parts of the screen to win a deadlock, ending with a swiping frenzy to take down your enemy. It's fairly exhilarating and does break up the slight monotony of combat.
As you hack your way through enemies, you'll want to take over the various bases scattered around each map instead of just rushing to your main objective. When the required amount of enemies are defeated, the base falls under your rule and gives you bonuses while you control it during battle such as increased strength, defenses of bases increased, or more allied troops summoned to the battlefield.
When you're not romancing the three kingdoms in Campaign Mode, Conquest Mode lets you pick a specific force and then do more of the same across the map of China. Coalition Mode lets you, and up to three other buddies, play cooperatively to take down enemy forces. It is however only available through Ad Hoc (local), which means gamers looking to take the fight online will be sorely disappointed. The Gala Mode is made up of Vita specific mini games that make use of the gyroscope, touchscreen, etc. They serve as fun distractions from the main attraction and even allow you to compare your scores online. To round it up, you can even create characters in Edit Mode, and then take them into battle in either Conquest or Coalition Mode.
The game looks great on the Vita or more specifically, the characters look great. As a series staple, the environments can look a bit dull, and the view distance is still laughable, as enemies still appear when they're right around you, but given that it's on a handheld, it's a bit more understandable, whereas the console iterations have no excuse at this point.
There is truly tons to do in DW Next, and has the flexibility to be played in short bursts or prolonged sessions. It has its shortcomings in a few places like online play and some repetition, but if you're looking to get some bang for your buck, you can't go wrong with Dynasty Warriors.