I could probably count on the digits of one-and-a-half hands the amount of decent console conversions I've played on the PC. "Hah, that's seven and a half you twat!" you might be thinking and you'd be right - because Dynasty Warriors 4, an epic oriental hack-and-slasher that fared so well on the PS2 and Xbox has actually translated into a half-decent PC game.
It's tribute to the big grey box that one of the console world's big-hitting titles fails to raise more than a cursory eyebrow, despite a faithful translation. Sure, the epic battles - in which you hack through hordes of enemies with an upgradeable warrior - are visually impressive, but despite the game's merits, it's impossible to escape its dumbed-down nature.
Things kick off fairly promisingly (despite the lazy consoley front-end), as you select from one of nine warriors and equip them with an array of weaponry. Then, after a beautifully rendered cut-scene replete with unintentionally comical non lip-synched dialogue, it's straight out into the battlefield.
Suddenly, you're transported into a warzone, where hordes of enemy and ally warriors are charging at each other, bellowing fearsome war cries and carving each other up. With no time to admire your surroundings, you're left with little choice but to wade into the fray with your given weapon - sword, staff, halberd and so on - and start turning your enemies into easily digestible treats for wild dogs and wandering Peperami lovers.
This is where DW4 becomes both infuriating and exhilarating in near equal measures. Exhilarating because you're tasked with turning the tide of the conflict by hacking through scores of enemies with an array of combos, projectile attacks (including bows and bombs) and some superb special Musou moves that first need to be powered up. Infuriating because the abysmal camera makes it virtually impossible to face the enemy for any prolonged period, meaning you're soon being flanked faster than a bitch on heat in an all-male dog sanctuary.
To be honest, it's a bit of a kick in the furry spheres, as with a better camera and more dynamic team and enemy AI, this could have been an awesome PC game. With a rock track raising the pulse to frenzied proportions and the often overwhelming enemy forces creating the perfect recipe for crazed action, you're sadly left feeling that both your allies and the enemy are engaging each other with utter indifference, merely waiting for you to dive in and do all the hard work. Sure, it's fun to be a war hero, but in such an unconvincing theatre, it's hard to feel particularly smug for being a killing machine. The problem is compounded when, after several hours of button-mashing, you realise just how repetitive the game actually is.
Dynasty Warriors 4 is a console game through and through, but the sheer scope of its battles and some deceptive depth do raise it above many of its ported counterparts. It's hardly a gaming masterpiece, but for a bit of slashing action at a slashed price, you could definitely do a lot worse.
Cheap but fun console hack-fest
- Large battles
- Decent RPG elements
- Nine varied characters to play as
- Slightly stagnant AI
- Poor camera