Malik (4/20/04)

Dynasty Warriors 4

Koei and Omega Force

This review originally was presented on lazy.GEEKS (5/26/03)

Ok, first off, if you don't know what a Dynasty Warriors game plays like, I can sum it up as a modern Gauntlet.  To be more precise it is a 3D style hack and slash in which you play a general during the Three Kingdom era of China (around 250-350 ACE...give or take, I have using exact numbers when I'm too lazy to look it up) and must go around and defeat certain enemy generals as your peon troops and the oppositions peons run around giving you extra cannon fodder and things to kills.  I know I may sound cynical, but this game is really quite fun in its simplistic approach.


This game is split up into several different parts...actually two parts.  There is the general hack and slash part as you and (if you choose to invite them) your bodyguards run around wasting peons and taking down whatever generals get in your way.  This handles pretty smooth.  You have only a few options of what to do, but they all fit together quite well.  First, you can do the standard of blocking, moving,  and jumping...yeah! also get two primary melee attacks.  You have your quick attack that can easily be used in a combo, and then you have your charge attack that you usually use to finish a combo.  Depending on how many quick attacks you use before your charge attack will determine what sort of combo is performed (did you fire some energy projectile, did you concentrate on one foe, did you lay waste to a whole platoon, did know the deal).  Next you also have a ranged attack...this is hard to grasp but you fire a...bow!  Ok, if you didn't see that coming, this is based around the 3rd century A.C.E...use some common sense people.  The bow serves mainly to take down archers that are in towers or on walls, to lay down a few peons as a squad tried to rush you, or, best of all, to knock a cocky general off his horse.  No there has to be something else since every game needs a magic style system now-a-days.  This game has Musou, which consists of your character charging a bar by fighting and killing enemies (or just pressing the button that charges the meter, but why do that when you can kill to do the same thing).  When the bar is full, you press the musou button and your character goes crazy with a series of slashes, flute playing (I did not make this up...really), or firing laser beams (I swear I am not making this up...someone believe me).  On top of all that you can also mount horses or elephants (yes...big slow elephants) and fight while mounted and even try to trample the opposition.

Now comes the second part of the gameplay...the duels.  Sometimes a general will have a grudge against you (if you play as, for example, Cao Cao and you keep killing Guan Yu, the game will remember this and Guan Yu will have a score to settle when he meets Cao Cao) and will challenge you to a one on one duel.  You can refuse if you want, but when you first start, why would you do that?.  Dueling seems so cool in theory, but...sadly the game of non-stop action and insanity becomes rather crappy least in my opinion; I have friends who live for a good duel, but to me they are weak.  In the duel, you have 45 seconds to win or even if you have more health left, it will only count as a draw.  45 seconds?  That's plenty, right?  Right?!?  No.  Since the computer loves to block (and is quite good at it) and you take no damage when blocking, the computer likes to try to force a draw out of you.  Also, the camera is horrible and most times the general you're dueling will simply stand just off the screen and take you down with a cheap shot.  Then if you lose a duel, it is game over...if you got into a duel at the end of, say, a 30 minute level in which other than the duel you kicked arse...well, too bad, you lost, you suck, you're gone, and you probably just broke a control as you throw it at the wall.  The only fun time to duel is with a kick-arse general against a pathetic newby general (take a guy who you beat Musou mode with and duel someone on one of the first levels), but that's only fun for a few minutes.  Anyways, to war up the game play, you find cool (and lame) items to equip, you get orbs to give your attacks elemental powers (just like in ancient China...wait...that's not right), you gain stats by beating generals (kill the peons for fun, the generals are all business), and you go crazy in good old-school hack and slash while you refuse every duel you encounter.


First off, this is a hack and slash, so no one should expect a deep plot full of intrigue and suspense (if you expected this from a hack and slash, you are a fool), but DW4 does a pretty good job.  The plot is based, like I said above, on the real events of the Three Kingdom era of China following the fall of the Han Dynasty (Han Solo?  Magical Kingdom?  Cow Cow?  I hate you all) and the emergence of the Wei, Wu, and Shu Dynasties (the three kingdoms).  The story does a good job of keeping with enough fact to not piss me off (I know I'm not alone in being intrigued by this era of history), but breaking away enough to have an enjoyable game with plenty of chance to break the rules (like by making your own general and having him fight along side Cao Cao).  The story is presented in well done cinematics that help to give you some idea of the personalities of the major players (the game has 42's hard to give them all a good plot).  The key players are all introduced in true style and DW4 shows their natures with some dramatic flair for your entertainment.  Long story short, lots of characters and lots of of campaigns to play through equals lots of entertaining story sequences; at least for a hack-and-slash.


(All you people who play just for the eye-candy, and you know who you are...I hate you all for corrupting the game world...this is for you)...plain and simple, they are mind blowing.  The cut scenes look gorgeous as you see rain falling on your generals as they ride their horses through a battlefield while their mouths moving in close to synch to their dialogue as in the background some peon just got laid to rest by some mounted soldier.  Well done, Koei.  Now, as for the combat scenes, they look almost as wonderful as the cinematics, even when playing in two player split screen action.  Trees look like trees, horses like horses, that soldier flying through the air after being tossed by Lu Bu...well, you get the point.  Also, the character movement is pretty much flawless.  As you move from combo to combo to throwing a soldier to jumping on a horse, your character doesn't suffer from poorly transitioning positions.  He/she moves like a person should move.  My only complaints with visuals are these; One, the duels have lame graphics.  The characters look good like in normal combat, but the backgrounds look rushed.  This I can easily forgive since it doesn't affect game play and duels already are lame.  Second problem; a couple generals look stupid.  Not like they were just rushed or the guy is ugly, but rather they look the game and you'll see...the thoughts of these generals hurt my mind and make me sick...

Sound... is what you'd expect.  Good action sounds (swords and explosions and all that are good), horrid voice acting (everyone for the most part sounds descent, but no character sounds kingdom for Japanese voice actors), and for some weird reason hard rock/punk sounding music...Koei, couldn't you try to find some music that matched the period of the game...I guess not.  Oh well.  The sounds are not bad, but they are nothing new, so no real comments from me here.

To wrap this up, the game is fun if you want to shut off your mind, take out some frustration, and kill hundreds of soldiers in only a few minutes.  If you want to think, look elsewhere...BTW, this does not mean the game is bad, you just need to be in a kill everything mood.  I like this game despite how I can bitch about it and would have to give it a 8/10.