In the 3rd Century the Han Dynasty was coming to an end.
You probably don’t care that it has lasted 400 years, or that it had almost fallen apart 200 years earlier, only to be brought back together. It may not matter to you that the turmoil of the land would bring about war; but if you served at the Hu Lao gate as many times as I have, if you felt the flames burning at Chi Bi as Zhuge Liang summoned the winds, if you had stood against Guan Yu at He Fe, it would mean a lot. I realize I may be the only human being on the planet who enjoys Dynasty Warriors as much as I do, but I don’t care. I could spend the rest of my life playing that game and die a happy man.
For those of you who don’t know Koei’s Dynasty Warriors is a retelling of the Chinese epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It is a story of the fall of the Han Dynasty and the various lords who sought to carve out kingdoms in it. It is a complex tale with a cast of characters to rival a Robert Jordan novel, but the majority revolves around three major sides: Shu, Wei and Wu. Each representing a different family and one of the final Kingdoms to stand at the end of this period. The game itself follows a series of battles starting with the Yellow Turban Rebellion (where all three families are still aligned under the Han), till the end of the Three Kingdoms when they eventually devour each other. Dynasty Warriors 7 (the latest installment) keeps mostly true to the original story choosing to end the campaign in a proper story telling fashion, where as previous games in the series changed the ending depending on what side you played.
The major game play in Dynasty Warriors (since about 2) revolves around giving you command of a famous hero and thrust into a large scale battle. One of Dynasty Warriors’ claims to fame has always been the number of units the AI will control on the screen at the same time; this means that very frequently you’ll be toe to toe with hundreds of enemy soldiers at the same time. Now for a normal man this might be a problem, but You’re a Legendary Warrior of the Three Kingdoms. Slaughtering hundreds of enemies is your morning work out. Using a simplistic control scheme (X is attack, Y is attack hard, B is attack REALLY hard) you carve your way through mountains of troops to face the enemy generals who are similarly endowed. After besting an opposing hero mere mortal troops will flee from your presence as you collect your enemy’s weapon as a reward. Each weapon brings with it greater strength and a different series of moves.
Dynasty Warriors 7 brings back the classic style of combos. The more normal attacks before a hard attack the different attack you get. This gives a fun variety without requiring the user to memorize some bizarre series of controls. Additionally, 7 augments game play by allowing your warrior to equip any two weapons of your choice; where as previously you were restricted to a single weapon (and only one possible weapon per hero). This change provides even more variety to break up combat, but also seems to counter balance the story mode. In previous additions you could play through the story with each individual hero, who’s personal story lasted 4-5 levels, but retelling many of them as heroes on the same side often shared levels. In 7 there is a single story per side with over 20+ levels, where the hero you play alternates between levels (though you get to keep any acquired weapons or XP). This allows for a richer story, as well as more cut scenes and even the occasional boss battle (completely new to the series).
For those of you who wish to play with a friend Dynasty Warriors has been a 2 player game for a while, but 7 brings with it online multiplayer in the form of conquest mode. There have been a number of spin offs of the Dynasty Warriors series, but one of the popular ones has been Empires. Dynasty Warriors Empires has been a variation of Dynasty Warriors set in the same time, but where the story is completely controlled by the player. You choose your side, recruit officers, and choose which territories to invade. Conquest mode in Dynasty Warriors 7 merges that into a single game. Conquest allows you to form relationships with other officers (measured by how and when you came to their aid or impressed them) and allows you to recruit them to your side. It also shares any Weapons and XP with the Story mode meaning gains in one carry over to the other. Finally, Conquest mode still has legendary battles, specifically tailored to the story of each hero.
I realize I am not doing this game justice, but that’s probably because I’m in a rush to finish this and get back to playing. However, to help you understand what an amazing game I think this is, let me leave you with this: I might own a Xiahou Dun cosplay outfit…