reviews\ May 5, 2005 at 8:00 pm

Dynasty Warriors 5 - PS2 - Review

Time flies when you’re having fun, and few things are more fun than videogames. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that KOEI released Dynasty Warriors 2. At that time, each day was a struggle to see how much time I could steal away to play through the different PS2 launch games. Whether it was skipping class (which I am now highly opposed to!), or locking myself in the basement with a few friends and a handful of games, I wouldn’t trade those days and hours playing Dynasty Warriors 2 and Smugglers Run for anything. Now, here I am five years later, locked away within my bedroom with three Dominoes’ pizzas and a game three generations the successor to an old favorite.

Dynasty Warriors is known for it’s amazing hack ‘n slash action. Unfortunately, the games’ greatest feature is also its number one drawback. Pressing the square button, intermixed with the occasion triangle gets old surprisingly fast. What I want out of my game is a more fine-tuned fighting system; one that allows for me to hone my skills while taking advantage of unique and personal tactics. With that being said, the game does make up for its meticulous gameplay through the implementation of various features. The most enjoyable feature, though it’s been in the series for a while, is the ability to play with a friend. Another feature is the heroes and their bodyguard’s ability to level up. It’s almost as if the game is an RPG, but not quite. Had that been the case, I would have hoped for a better story.

As for the game’s progression, an RPG-like setup has been implemented to ensure your characters development. Much like leveling up, your character will gain experience from battle based upon their performance. The greater your feat in battle, the more points you’ll be awarded. As your character reaches a specified number of points, their rank will increase as will that character’s particular attributes. Just so, your equipped bodyguard can level up in the same manner. Before each battle, you will be given in the opportunity to view a preparation menu. In this menu you can select a bodyguard to assist you in battle, change out your weapon, and equip special items. In many ways, leveling up your bodyguard can be just as addicting as leveling up your main character. As their rank increases, their stats rise, and new abilities become available. New bodyguards can be obtained through the completion of tasks within the game. As well, new items and weapons can be found by braking crates when playing in both Musou and Free mode. Unfortunately, limits have been put into place, allowing each character a specified number of items, and only four weapons; a definite drawback for those of us who enjoy collecting.

Dynasty Warriors 5 offers a variety of modes. The games’ main mode, also its most entertaining, is Musou Mode. Simply put, it’s a story mode that’s built around a sequence of stages and a boring, poorly illustrated story. Free Mode is a mode in which characters can be played to train their abilities and attributes. Both weapons and experience can be gained in Free Mode. If you’re having a problem with one of the game’s current stages in Musou Mode, playing Free Mode to level up your character might not be a bad idea. Challenge Mode can be fun, just because it tells you how good (or in some cases bad) of a player you are. After completing specified requirements within a given time period, you will be supplied a password, which in turn can be submitted on the Internet allowing you to compare your accomplishments with that of others.

Of course every game offers its good, bad and ugly. When playing a game that relies solely on button mashing, the player needs to know where his enemies are. This is simply to allow the character to face in the right direction when pulverizing the keypad. In short, the game’s camera is a huge let-down. There’s nothing more annoying that attempting to whack an opponent, but having no idea where he’s at. Knock them away, and you’re fine. Knock them toward the camera, and you’ll be swinging blind, hoping that they get in your way before you get in theirs.

In the end, Dynasty Warriors 5 is an all right game. Though the titles tend to lack innovation, KOEI continues to release them as if on a yearly schedule. The game’s graphics are impressive, even if they are nothing phenomenal. If you are a fan of the game’s predecessors, then DW5 is right up your alley, and you won’t be disappointed. Also, if you’re looking for a good way to spend the afternoon, DW5 is definitely worth a rental. Besides, there’s always the possibility that you’ll learn something of Chinese History!

Review Scoring Details for Dynasty Warriors 5

Gameplay: 7.5
Revolutionary? No… Expected? Eh, I’d hoped so … Enjoyable? Yes.

It may be a little tedious, and in some places meticulous, but ultimately the game is enjoyable. Don’t sit down to play it if you’re looking for something tactical. Dynasty Warriors 5 pits you against a horde of enemies, all of whom you can take on by yourself. If you can mash the square button (Normal Attack), throw in the occasional triangle (Power Attack), along with the sporadic circle (Special Attack), you’ll do fine. In fact, you’ll likely do so well with this tactic that you’ll get a promotion in rank.

Graphics: 7.8
As far as the game’s graphics are concerned; you’ll be getting pretty much the same thing you got in DW4. What with releasing a new installment in the series yearly, KOEI can hardly be expected to change that much. The character models and environment are pretty impressive. Especially when you take into account the sheer number of models that can be present at one time. Alas, with so many highly detailed models, comes the eventual, inevitable slowdown.

Sound: 7.0
The game's sound track and music selection are pretty much what you’ve come to expect from the Dynasty Warriors series. An almost rock-style music will sometimes accompany the menus and battle, but the more dominant and memorable is the oriental-themed music.

Difficulty: Medium
How hard is it to press the square button? That’s about all the game really calls for. Of course you can be tactical, and try to throw in the occasional triangle and circle buttons, but even that’s not really necessary. Depending on how blunt of a player you are, you might find yourself running ahead of your army. In most situations this isn’t an advisable tactic, but it can be worked out. Jump around, and the majority of the opponents who swing at you will miss. Meanwhile, your Musou bar (special attack bar) will fill up, giving you another chance to annihilate your nearby foes.

Concept: 7.0
It’s been done, as least four times before. Of course I love the implementation of the Chinese history, but I doubt that that aspect will captivate much of a crowd. On a side note, being able to level up your different heroes and bodyguards can be surprisingly addicting. Sit down for an hour, and you may find yourself seated for four.

Multiplayer: 7.5
Of course the game is more fun when played with a friend, but the truth is, it doesn’t really matter. Most likely you’ll both be contributing your efforts to different battlefronts. Sure, comparing kill counts is fun, it’s almost as if you’re doing something other than rapidly pressing square. Your Musou (Special Attacks) can be combined into a more powerful attack, but aside from that, playing with a friend in no way changes the feel of the game.

Overall: 7.5
Dynasty Warriors is an enjoyable game. Its graphics and music are pretty much the same as the last one, but that’s to be expected with back-to-back sequels. As well, the game is no way lacking button mashing. If you have a little pent up anger, or are just tired of thinking and want to take a break from what’s going on around you, Dynasty Warriors 5 will be just what you’re looking for.


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