Dynasty Warriors 7
Koei’s Dynasty Warrior’s series has begun to make me feel like I did during enchilada day in college. A little over a decade ago, the series started off fresh with expansive battles set before a rich historical backdrop. However, we’ve been served the same reheated menu year after year, and if I have to ingest another Dynasty Warriors title I feel like I might puke.
Like its predecessors, Dynasty Warriors is based off the legendary 14th century novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Players take control of one of four warring factions in their conquest of ancient China. However, since the game’s opening movie begins with a young warrior strapping a baby to his chest before kicking a horse in the face and then surfing down a waterfall, you have to assume that some artistic license was taken. Honestly, I probably would have enjoyed the game more if it had embraced this kind of zany vibe, but most of the story is told through a cast of stiff character models who deliver pages of overwritten dialogue in awkward cartoon voices. Somehow, Dynasty Warriors 7 still comes across like it’s trying to take itself seriously.
In previous Dynasty Warriors titles, players would pick a character and follow them through the game’s events. DW 7’s story mode has you bouncing from character to character as the plot rambles on. I hardly noticed this change since I never felt invested in any of my characters in previous DW titles, but I did appreciate the game’s new weapon system. Characters no longer have individualized attacks. Instead, each weapon comes with its own combo list, and since you can equip your generals with any weapon in the game, you can customize the fighting style for each character. Of course, each character also has an EX weapon type that unlocks more powerful moves, so you’ll probably find yourself gravitating towards those predetermined weapons anyway. Seals can also be attached to each weapon to upgrade your character's running speed or attack strength. But because every sword wielder attacks with the same combo patterns, characters are not as distinct as they have been in previous titles.
While Dynasty Warrior’s character management is technically different from previous entries in the series, the game is functionally identical in almost every way. Nine out of every ten enemies you “fight” will do little more than circle around you ominously while you attack their commanding officer over and over again with the same combo. Omega Force has tried to vary the game’s missions, but whether you’re sneaking up behind an enemy encampment, dodging falling boulders on your way up a mountain path, or escorting hapless NPCs, every mission eventually boils down to the same thing: tearing through thousands of Chinese soldiers like some kind of human blender.
The Dynasty Warriors franchise is an impressive dynasty in and of itself. Fans who’ve stuck with the series since its inception argue its merits, but I’ve grown tired of the repetitive action, enemies, and environments (I swear that I’ve seen some of this game’s levels while playing a couple of its prequels). Dynasty Warriors may have once provided a novel experience, but like metrosexuality and Jennifer Aniston’s hair, things that fascinated us a decade ago eventually grow tiresome.