Dynasty Warriors 7 has finally arrived for the PS3 but just because it’s the seventh in the series doesn’t mean you have to play its predecessors, which is in part thanks to this version being created to be the perfect step on for newcomers.
The Dynasty Warriors series is based on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms tale, which depicts famous names from Chinas history carving out their future in bloody battles during turbulent times. You get to play as either of four factions, Wu, Shu, Wei and Jin, and follow their stories and take part in huge and important battles through China. Most of the missions require a simple “defeat a required opponent” but getting there is another matter, with large maps to control, the balance of on the battlefield is always swaying, with you needing to be wary of ambushes on your own officers as well as yourself, as if you lose one officer it could mean game over. Controls are simple with a light and strong attack that can be linked to perform combos and Musuo special moves. You can also call on your horse and swap weapons a simple button press. Being able to swap between two weapons mid fight is not just an aesthetic thing, as the more you use them, the more compatible you become using the weapon, opening up even more combo sets.
Unlike a lot of games, there are five difficulties for a reason. If new to the series easy or medium will gently guide you through the story, which is just as well as you pretty much run head first into trouble and come out relatively unscathed. Move onto the tougher settings and the game offers a more solid challenge, with more tactical planning and fight and flee moves (I am not very good), working down your opponents. Thankfully the huge battlefields offer plenty of random item drops from destroying pots to defeating the many soldiers that surround you that give out Musuo and health regeneration as well as random short term attack, defence and speed boosts. Also defeating the officers and main cast will take lots more skill than just slashing away like you can with the rank and file soldiers that litter the battlefield. They are worth the effort though as they drop some bountiful weaponry for you to equip later.
The more factual and stale presentation from previous games has been dropped, making the story mode a lot more engrossing than before, with an informative voice over detailing what has been occurring across China and a short cutscene introducing new characters and story lines. This is a fresh approach, making newcomers feel more attached to the characters they play.
At the start of each mission you are able to chat to other soldiers and purchase new weaponry and equip and power up your current set up. Each weapon has a group of stars that shows your current proficiency with it; the more stars full the better the combos you can pull off. Each weapon also has slots available for you to attach seals that are earned in the battlefield and can boost your stats even further.
If the four separate storylines that can last up to 8 hours a piece were not enough, the Conquest mode also offers a huge campaign where China has been split into loads of hexagonal tiles. Each one represents either a large battle or missions that you must complete to take over that piece of land until you rule all of China. Mixed in with all of the battles are castle tiles that you can travel to and use their blacksmiths and weaponsmiths to create and improve your weaponry using finances earned on the field. The Conquest mode is where the multiplayer element comes in, allowing you to play online to take on the missions as any character you have previously unlocked.
Having such huge battlefields to negotiate, the maps in the top right of the screen are very easy to read, allowing you to pick out hotspots and missions with ease. Sadly the environments are a little barren on some levels with not much going on, whereas others offer multitier mountains to work around and rivers to cross. The amount of characters on screen is as ever impressive, with no slowdown appearing even when surrounded by over 100 enemies. The main characters, officers and enemy designs are all well varied and are well animated, other than the horse which looks a little stiff when you turn.
Away from the all of the action is a very in depth encyclopaedia allowing you to delve into detailed entries on the various factions, main players of the time and battles that took place, plus galleries of characters and cut scenes.
Dynasty Warriors 7 manages to please the hardcore fans and will also be an enjoyable experience for newcomers thanks to the more effective storytelling.
You can buy your copy of Dynasty Warriors 7 here (PS3) and here (Xbox 360).