Dynasty Warriors 5 is the latest in the long running series that has seen more games appear on consoles than any other game of its type. Despite the 5 after the title, you’d be forgiven for thinking that not much has changed over the years. The game is essentially the same as it’s always been, with the same button mashing combat that you’ll already have experienced in previous games. There have been some changes though, which may well be enough for fans of the series.
You’ve got 48 characters to choose from this time around (six of which are new to the series) and each of them has a unique story set within the Dynasty Warriors universe. While each story is different, the combat in each is essentially the same, requiring you to take out hundreds of enemies no matter which character you choose to play as.
Changes to gameplay are slight, but noticeable. The bodyguard units from past games are now singular, but they are more intelligent, helping you out in battle more so than in previous games. You’re also able to have a tiger as a bodyguard (as are your enemies) and these fight along side you as you’d expect. Tigers can’t be attacked, so the only way to get rid of them is to take down their master. When the player and bodyguard have filled their Musou gauge a double Musou attack can be performed. This attack is devastating and takes out all enemies within range.
While not new, the strongholds from the previous game also make an appearance. These buildings give aid to the army that hold them, and while they can’t change hands, conquering them will remove the aid they provide to your enemy and give your army a morale boost, making them a vital element to the combat.
The game is basically a quest to battle enemies in order to upgrade your warrior so you can beat the boss character. It’s possible to jump to the boss fight, but doing so with a weak warrior will make the fight exceedingly hard. You need to have better skills and the advanced weapons that can only be obtained by fighting through thousands of enemies and searching the environment.
There’s a lot to do in Dynasty Warriors 5, but it can be a struggle. The environment is rather large and searching for the best weapons can get tedious. Doing so for every character in the game is a chore that only the most dedicated fans will want to play through. Alternate modes are really more of the same, with a Sudden Death mode designed to see how many kills you can make before taking a single hit, and the Bridge Melee challenges the player to knock as many enemies as possible from a bridge before he falls off himself or dies.
The biggest change over the previous game comes in the visuals. The series’ infamous fog of war now sits much further into the distance, giving you a better view of the environment and the enemies you’re fighting. Enemies no longer appear in front of you as if by magic, and the sense of scale in battle is much improved. The frame rate is also much smoother, with the engine being able to handle more enemies on screen before things start to slow down.
There’s not a great deal new to see in this Xbox version over the PlayStation 2 game, but KOEI has included the option to use Japanese voices with subtitles and there’s Dolby Digital support. if you already own the PlayStation 2 version it’s not really worth buying the game again, but it’s a nice bonus all the same.
If you really love the Dynasty Warriors series then this is probably a no brainer, and you’ll probably have already picked it up, but if you’re wondering if the latest game does anything drastically different to the previous games, it doesn’t. It’s more of the same, with some slight graphical improvements. If that’s all you want in a sequel, you’ll enjoy what’s on offer here.