reviews\ Jan 31, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Dynasty Warriors 3 Xtreme Legends - PS2 - Review

The Dynasty Warriors series came a long way since its early beginnings and fans have seen this semi-historical strategic beat-’em-up evolve ever so slightly with Dynasty Warriors 3.  Not only was the third outing an enjoyable game, its warm reception inspired Koei to release a remixed version filled with extra features.   But make no mistake, Dynasty Warriors 3 Xtreme Legends isn’t just an expansion disc, it’s also a game that can stand on its own.


The world of Dynasty Warriors 3 featured some fierce Chinese generals, each with his or her own stories that have gathered in different battlegrounds during the country’s most bloody feudal period of the Three Kingdoms.  It’s a battle waged with armies as well as rival generals such as Lu Bu, Diao Chan or the powerful Meng Huo.  Xtreme Legends extends the game’s story mode--Musou Mode--as well as adding new weapons, items and extra game modes.  There’s even a Bodyguard Editor that allows you to change your bodyguards’ numbers, strengths as well as sex.  You can also play director by rearranging the opening sequence.


There are five modes featured in this remix: Original, Musou Mode, Free Mode, VS Mode and Challenge Mode.  The game allows you to play the original Dynasty Warriors 3 with the extras added, of course you have to own the original, which the game will ask for when playing a the main story mode like Musou.  Free Mode takes you through a single scenario while VS Mode pits you against a friend. 


Challenge Mode is a new mode that offers Speed Demon, Balancing Act, Combo Mania and Ironman challenges.  These mini-games are also highly entertaining, especially Balance Act that has you fighting against generals and soldiers and tossing them off a bridge.  Combo Mania has you pulling off combos for big points while Speed Demon puts you someplace on the map lets you race to another point.  For a real challenge, Ironman puts you through all three of these challenges consecutively. 


Musou Mode lets you assume the roll of one of the seven different generals and take them through several campaigns--the story is told through cut-scenes.  You choose your equipment at the beginning of each campaign and are placed somewhere on the massive map.  Hordes of enemy soldiers appear on the radar above and you go about fighting alongside your own army as they clash on the battlefield.  The game’s controls are exactly like Dynasty Warriors 3 in that you have three different attack types that vary from any of the generals you choose.  You have normal attack (does minimal damage), charge attack (slightly more powerful) and Musou attack (wipes out scores of enemy soldiers at once).  You can even attack enemies while on horseback or on the back of a powerful elephant.


The fun part about this game is that you can just as easily enter the fray and take on a large number of troops that fill the screen and use the new weapons and items from the original game or the remix.  The only downside to the battle is that it can become really repetitive.  If it weren’t for the occasional challenge of high ranking enemy soldiers or enemy generals, the game would have gotten old fast.  


Visually the game isn’t stunning but it’s always something of a pleasant surprise to see so many great-looking characters on the screen at once and some nicely rendered backgrounds to go along with it.  The characters look great out there fighting off hordes of uniformed soldiers and even more so when they activate their Musou attack (talk about a neat little light show) that sends enemies flying back to the ground.  Still the graphics are not any different than what’s seen in the original version.  Like the original, certain background characters have the tendency to just disappear in a haze of fog or just vanish altogether until you’re back in range.


Sound-wise, Xtreme Legends doesn’t win any points with its weak sound effects, not-so good voice acting and really dreadful tunes.  Much audible details should have been placed in a game that has so many things happening at one.  You will hear some clashing blades here and there, but nothing really spectacular.  The voice acting doesn’t help things either, especially during cut scenes.  The voices can be a little on the unintentionally funny side--although the option to switch to Japanese with English subtitles does improve the quality of the voice acting.  An as far as soundtracks go, however, the one found in the game will have gamers lowering the volume.  


Like the original version, this remix still supplies all the intense challenging scenarios fans of this series love and adds even more goodies to boot.  The game is still plagued with all the little annoyances--such as that awful camera problem--that takes away from the overall beauty of this game.  Yet the game is still fun to play and the two-player mode alone makes this a worthy buy.  And at the bargain price, this is a great companion to own if you already have Dynasty Warriors 3.



#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 7.3
Slashing away at the mass of hordes couldn’t be easier or more satisfying than this.  One of the series greatest pleasures is in the fact that your character can jump into a sea of soldiers and use charge attacks or the more powerful Musou attack.  It’s also easy to perform a number of attack combos that vary from character to character.  As part of the remix, there’s an un-lockable fifth weapon to add to your weapons list and the ability to customize your bodyguards with the Bodyguard Editor.  The only real problem is that the action can still be a bit too repetitive.


Graphics: 7.9
Dynasty Warriors 3 featured some pretty good-looking graphics with excellent backgrounds and wonderfully designed characters complete with their beautiful Chinese costumes.  All forty-one characters are nicely rendered and detailed enough that you can actually see the expressions on their faces change when they’re slashing away or getting knocked around by the enemy.  There are also some great special effects seen when a character uses his or her Musou attack that sends enemies flying.


The only real problem with the graphics is the fact that certain objects and people in the background seem to vanish in a thick mist that wasn’t there before and only to have them reappear when you move forward.  This really isn’t a troublesome problem, but it doesn’t look good either. 


Sound: 6.9
The sound is something of a disappointment since this is the kind of game that has so much going on at once that gamers might expect an amazingly rich wall of sounds.  You will find the sounds of clashing swords and the occasional grunts of pain from fallen soldiers, but nothing in a great scale as, say, State of Emergency.  This is all mixed with a score filled with cheesy heavy metal that really seem out of place in a game with a beautiful Asian theme.  The problem with the score is that the music--heavily peppered with annoying guitar riffs--becomes way too repetitive to ignore. 


The voice acting found in the game is not that good either.  At times the poorly translated dialogue will get a few laughs out of gamers during the most dramatic parts of the game.  Strangely enough, though, the game allows you to switch the language track to Japanese and this makes for better voice performances and they even added English subtitles.


Difficulty: Medium
Naturally, fighting wave after wave of armed enemy soldiers is a challenging feat even in the Normal difficulty setting.  Not only can the enemy forces overpower you but they are smart enough to consider you enough of a threat that they’ll knock you off your horse of elephant and attack three at a time.  And, of course, higher-ranking officers put up more of a fight and are tougher to defeat due to their increased combat skills.  If the other difficulty settings are not much of a challenge to those skilled gamers, this remixed version has included a new Very Hard difficulty setting that is all out mayhem.


Concept: 7.0
If the original Dynasty Warriors 3 had featured all of the things included in the remix, the game would have been the ultimate fan favorite.  Still, I’m sure fans will appreciate the new content found in this remix and it’s also a game that can stand on its own, although I highly recommend that gamers own the original game first--which should be priced quite fairly by now.  If you’re a fan of the series, you can’t go wrong with the remix with its new battle scenarios and great Challenge Mode.


Multiplayer: 7.8
The best part about this game is that it allows you to bring in a second player in almost any mode.  In Mosou Mode, for instance, another player can join in during the character selection screen or at anytime after that for cooperative play.  Then there’s VS Mode that allows you to play against a friend, which was made specifically for multiplayer action, although it’s available when you load the original scenarios.


Overall: 7.5
Plagued with bad camera issues as well as the repetitive action of the original, this remix to Dynasty Warriors 3 isn’t much of an improvement but its added content is just too good to pass up if you already own the original. 


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