In the interest of full disclosure, I have never played a game in the Dynasty Warriors franchise before this review. Being around video games for most of my life, I definitely was aware of the franchise. Admittedly, I had a passing interest but for whatever reason, I never pulled the trigger on picking the game up before this month. Now, with the next-gen systems here, it felt like a good jumping in point.
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends The Complete Edition for the PS4 and PS Vita contains the base game of Dynasty Warriors 8, which was released in July of 2013, as well as the Xtreme Legends expansion. For those who already own the PS3 version, there is an update for the expansion at a cheaper cost. As a curious mind is opt to do, I had to know the backstory before I could truly appreciate the furious hack, slash and button mash action that I was seeing before me on the screen. Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends The Complete Edition is somewhat based off of the “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” Chinese novels by Luo Guanzhong, a 14th-century writer. The game features four main factions: Shu, Wei, Wu and Jin. Of those 4 factions there 82 playable characters in the game. Each character has its own story, which intertwine with each other the longer you play through the game. In order to keep things fresh, which is hard to do in a story like this, each warrior will come equipped with their own set of moves, combos, and weapons. These attributes can be upgraded as you further progress through their story.
Since I was playing this on the PS4, my expectations from a visual standpoint were pretty high. Unfortunately, these expectations were not realized as everything from the menus, cutscenes and gameplay felt like a mid-cycle PS3 release. While the fidelity of the game was impressive, the repetitive dialogue coupled with an 80s-esque guitar track had me reaching for the mute button. What I was impressed with was the sheer amount of characters on the screen at one time. Whether they were enemies or friendlies, there had to be somewhere between 100-200 characters on the screen at one point, the PS4’s processing power more than up to the task to handle the plethora of characters.
The first time you slay around 100 characters at a time, you can’t help but chuckle at the absurdity of it all. However, that satisfaction quickly wears off as you rinse repeat. It would be a much more satisfying experience if there were less characters and the actual combos could be pulled off. Instead, the screen is too flooded to tell the difference between friend and foes. As you button mash, your character is wailing awhile like a mindless idiot. Often at times you feel like you have a group of enemies lined up for a good combo and for whatever reason the combo doesn’t connect, maybe because the hit detection is not as precise as it could be.
A shining moment for the game has to be when you can play as the general of Han Dynasty, Lu Bu. He is noticeably larger than other characters and therefore his EX attacks are the fiercest of the bunch. His story is part of the expansion and as he gets bored with the competition on the battlefield, he betrays his faction and saddles up with a new group. His story is shorter than some of the other characters, which is unfortunate as I’m sure fans of this franchise wanted more hands on time with Lu Bu.
The game does come with other modes: Free, Ambition and, Challenge mode. Playing these modes, you can earn experience points that will help develop your character. Challenge mode seemed to be the most fun out of all the extra modes. It contains five different courses where you compete to get the highest score via online leaderboards. As you progress, you will earn Weapon Element Gems to increase the power of your attacks, which in turn makes it easier to complete the course. While these modes can be fun to play through however, I can’t imagine many people trying them out too extensively when there are 82 characters in Story mode to tackle.
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends The Complete Edition will be a disappointment to many who go into the game thinking that they are getting a next-gen Musou experience. Instead the game feels more like a retread with a tacked on story. For fans of the franchise, it will be hard to turn this one down as playing with Lu Bu’s character is truly a fun experience. For those teetering on the fence about whether to jump in to a Musou game for the first time, it might be prudent to hold off until a true next-gen experience is be delivered to the masses.