Also On: PS Vita, PS3
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Developer: Omega Force
I have played many Dynasty Warriors games over the years, and if there is one constant in every new version, it is that very little is changed from the last one. Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends is no exception. Very little has changed from DW 7, with the core gameplay containing the same amount of mindless button mashing you have seen before. Now The 8th installment hits the PlayStation 4 (in Complete Edition form) and for its debut on such a powerhouse console, the presentation is rather lackluster.
If you never played a Dynasty Warriors game before, basically what you have here is a button mashing fest of madness loosely based on the “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” Chinese novels. Over the different games, more and more characters from the Wei, Wu and Han Clans as they battle each other for dominance of the Chinese territories. This chapter gives you 82 total character to play as, as you progress through the heavily anime-inspired story, where you are one warrior against hundreds of enemies at the same time. Each warrior has a storyline to follow (that eventually all intertwine the longer you play) and each has a unique arsenal of special moves and combos to lay waist to your foes.
With each new game in the series, there’s very little changes from the core gameplay of explore, kill, rinse and repeat and it’s the same deal with DW8. There isn’t really much strategy involved, outside taking a path to the goal that brings less of a chance of death. Your main focus here is to build up your combos and unleash hell on your opponents to win each of the battles you are thrown into. Some of these battles can drag on and occasionally you can find yourself running towards a battle that is way across the map. This can lead to a long stretch of watching your character run (or ride a horse) through empty fields, abandoned villages, and dark castles. As repetitive as this sounds, (and it is) the overall fantasy of this universe will hook you for a while as you claim victory in countless battles and try out new characters. But, over time you may find yourself getting bored and hoping for more variety, just like every game in the series. This is not a game you play for long periods without taking extended breaks, and the charm does wear off.
This being a PlayStation 4 release, I was expecting super graphics, great constant frame rate and fantastic sound. Well, I got one out of three of these, which was disappointing. While the sound and music is all top notch as it is with many of the DW games, the graphics in this release do not show off the power of the PS4 in the slightest. In fact, this looks more like 2012 PS3 release than a super shiny next gen game. The cutscenes are CG anime style and look very compressed, while the in game visuals are devoid of life and rather bland looking. Animations on screen are somewhat fluid for your character as you are fighting (give or take a few frames), but the enemies are limited to a very choppy looking set of animations and sometimes even clip into each other and objects. While this is sort of a normal thing for past Dynasty Warrior games (given the sheer amount of enemies and objects that can appear onscreen) you’d expect the PS4 to handle it much better. Constant frame rate is another issue that the PS4 doesn’t even deal with, with most of the battles jumping between 50 to 60 FPS and in some rare cases slowing down to 30.
One strange thing is the games use of the PS4’s controller speaker. As you play through the game, you will hear your commanders and comrades shout out orders and other dialog through the speaker constantly. This would be a neat feature if this dialog didn’t already come out of the TV speakers, so what you are left with is an irritating stereo effect. I recommend disabling it.
While Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition isn’t a bad game by any means, it’s once again another venture into the same game you’ve played last year. If you already have it on the PS3 or PS Vita, then you don’t even need to give this one a look. If the PS4 is your only system and you are a diehard fan of the DW games then this might be one for you. Otherwise, this is another button masher that is fun for a while but will end up on the shelf with all of the other DW games collecting dust before you know it. Maybe Tecmo Koei should rethink the core design in the next game as, at this point, they are getting stale.