Dynasty Warriors 8: Under the Radar review


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Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: TecmoKoei
Genre: (Crowd) Hack & Slash (1-vs-Many)
Available on: PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360 (for NA/EU)
Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
Release date:
(NA) July 16th, 2013
(EU) July 19th, 2013
(JP)  February 28th, 2013

What I’ve played:
Story Mode to completion
Free Mode battles to unlock weapons
Ambition Mode to completion

Welcome to another Under the Radar Review from Poppycock Reviews. This time we’ll be reviewing the Chinese Historical Fantasy game Dynasty Warriors 8. It is among one of the most popular video game series in Japan, but here in the West it is often reduced to “mindless button masher” and a series that is “more of the same.” In comparison to “Call of Duty,” which the West tends to prefer, you can see some hypocrisy in those statements (mindless shooter, more of the same). The purpose of these games is to deliver gameplay the fans know, love, and come to expect, all while giving the player new and different ways to do the things they love.

Ancient China is thrown into chaos once more in this eighth iteration of the Dynasty Warriors series. Known for its 1vsMany gameplay, Dynasty Warriors grants you the ability to slash your way through literally thousands of soldiers on the battlefield. You will do so quite effortlessly and stylishly while swinging your weapon of choice across the map and burning your enemies or striking them down with lightning. Being the eighth game in the series, improvements have been made across the board when compared to its predecessors. It is the best in its genre of Crowd-Clearing Hack & Slash.

Story:

The game is based off of the book “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” which is loosely based on Chinese history. In Story Mode you have the choice of playing through the four Kingdom storylines of Wei, Wu, Shu, and Jin. Each kingdom comes with its own unique, albeit one dimensional, cast of characters and color. Wei has their ambitions, Wu goes on about family, Shu preaches benevolence, and Jin has a sense of superiority and thinks of everyone as imbeciles. While playing through their battles, you can select from multiple characters on each stage and will be tasked to complete multiple objectives. The stages are vast and vary from desert sands, to rustling forests, to fortified castles. Fulfilling or failing certain objectives can event in subsequent stages. Each of the four main kingdoms has two different scenarios: The Historical Path, in which you play battles as they happened in history, or the alternate Hypothetical Path, which acts as a What-if scenario for the kingdom. Some officers will die according to history, but you will be given the chance to see how battles play out if they happened to live.

Other modes include Free Mode, in which you can replay stages cleared in Story Mode with any character of your choosing, or play as the opposing faction of those stages. Ambition Mode tasks you with building up a city to welcome the Emperor of China into your walls. You will fight battles to recruit Allies, gather Materials, and increase your Fame. In your city you will be able to purchase weapons and animals, as well as upgrade your weapons and buildings among other things.

Gameplay:

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Dynasty Warriors 8 comes with a cast of 77 Unique characters and weapons. Each character is specialized in one weapon that grants them a Unique EX Attack in addition to the weapon moveset. You have your Normal Attacks and Charge Attacks, and furthermore, they each have three unique Musou Attacks that can wreck enemies near you, and if that wasn’t enough to scream OP, you have access to a mighty RAGE Musou. This will make you go into RAGE mode where your attack power increases and your Musou is replaced with a single, continuous RAGE Musou that can lead you on a rampage for a significant amount of time, leaving nothing but destruction in your path.

Carrying over from Dynasty Warriors 7 is the weapon-switch system. You can bring to battle two different weapons of your choosing to switch at any moment during battle. Weapon Switching is made more useful dues to the game’s Weapon Affinity system. Each weapon is assigned an affinity of Heaven, Earth, or Man, and on the battlefield it acts as a Rock-Paper-Scissors format. Having an advantage over a weapon grants you access to “Storm Rush,” which is a strong flurry of attacks dependent on your button-mashing skills. Being at a disadvantage will prevent you from flinching the enemy, but grant you the ability to “Switch Counter.” Doing so will counter an enemy’s attack, and switch to your other weapon while buffing you for a short time.

As for the weapons themselves, you have 77 to choose from. Odds are you’ll find a personal favorite and try to stick every character with it. There are your standard Swords and Spears, to the more stylish Throwing Knives and Curved Swords. Then there are the WTF weapons such as a Siege Spear that is essentially a high-powered rocket-spear, to a Spinning…Yo-yo…Scythe…thing ……. Yeah. Each weapon has its own special gimmick, so it is fun to experiment with different weapons and find the one that suits your playstyle. You can assign your character with up to 4 Attributes that will grant you bonuses such as health or resistance. Weapon Attributes can be found on the weapons you pick up off the battlefield, and these can grant you abilities such as faster attack speed or being able to freeze your enemies. Furthermore, you can forge your favorite attributes onto your favorite weapon through Tempering to create your ultimate weapon. Special “one-of-a-kind” 5th weapons can be earned by fulfilling certain requirements, on a certain stage, with a certain character.

There are five difficulties present: Beginner, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Chaos. Beginner to Normal are the standard fare of playing the game just to enjoy. With enough playtime, Hard falls into that category as well. Chaos difficulty is for those who enjoy a challenge. In Chaos you must be on your toes at all times. While peons served as cannon fodder in the previous difficulties, in Chaos they can become a real threat, especially with the vast amount of them. The damage the enemies deal is ramped up, and a single mistake could cost you a portion of your health or even your life. It can be heart-pounding to barely escape a juggle with a sliver of health, and while running around the chaotic battlefield to scavenge for health, one strike from a peon or arrow can easily end it for you.

Presentation:

Graphically, it’s no technical achievement, nor is it as hyper-realistic as some other games, but it’s not meant to be. The graphics are unique with its lighting and shade effects. However, because the graphics are the way they are, more soldier units are available on the screen within your range of view. The animations of the characters feel smooth, and the Musuo animations feel even smoother. You’ll feel like a weapon in a Fantasy China.

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The sound effects are done well to make you feel powerful. You will constantly hear peon cries and officer chatter throughout the stage. Voices can be a hit-or-miss with this game, depending if you like English VOs or not. If that’s not your thing, then Koei has plans to release the Japanese VOs for its Western audience. Otherwise, there are many notable voices in this game; Jameson Pierce, Yuri Lowenthal, and Wendee Lee to name a few.

The music is one of the best things to come from the Dynasty Warriors series. Rock and Epic music meet in China to allow you to conquer the battlefield alongside great music. If you played the previous games, you’ll welcome the remixes of the past song titles. New songs are a great addition to the overall expanding DW Soundtrack.

Conclusion:

If you were a fan of Koei’s Warriors series, then Dynasty Warriors 8 is a must-buy. It sells itself as the ‘definitive’ Dynasty Warriors experience, and with 77 unique characters, no cloned movesets, and a good balance between the old-mechanics and the new, it’s hard to not see why. Warriors games were always meant to have a simple pick-up and play style to make you feel powerful stylishly and almost effortlessly. It is satisfying to see your kill count rise exponentially as you rip across the hordes of enemies and hear praises from your allies because you alone have the power to change the tide of battle.

Overall score:

10/10

Things to know about the author/genre/Warriors series:

  • Enjoy H&S games such a Ninja Gaiden, Metal Gear Rising, and Devil May Cry.
  • Enjoy Beat-em-ups such as Castle Crashers and Scott Pilgrim.
  • First PS2 game I played was Dynasty Warriors 4, fell in love with the series ever since.
  • Played many of the expansions to Warrior games, such as Xtreme Legends and Empires.
  • Played many of the various Warriors spinoff series, including Samurai Warriors, Dynasty Warriors:Gundam, Warriors Orochi, One Piece: Pirate Warriors.
  • One of my favorite Video Game series that gets my hyped for release.

Trophies: (For those who enjoy the hunt)

The Dynasty Warriors 8 Platinum is time-consuming and a grind. There are the easy gameplay related ones such as defeating 3 officers with “Storm Rush” and killing a 1000 enemy units in a single stage. There are the standard “complete story mode”, collect all weapons, and complete all stages. Then there are the grinding trophies that include raising “Bond” levels of every character in and playing 100-consecutive battles in Ambition Mode. If you plan to enjoy every ounce of this game, the Platinum will be yours in due-time.

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One response to “Dynasty Warriors 8: Under the Radar review”

  1. lambskinny says :

    Reblogged this on Versatile Blogger Award and commented:
    A popular “hack and slash” video game in Japan — Dynasty Warriors 8 reviewed by Poppycock Reviews in Under the Radar section. Check it out.

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