That's right, kids: there's a full moon in the sky, so it must be time for yet another Samurai/Dynasty Warriors game! But wait; after numerous identical sequels, all of which looked and played like something that had oozed out of both ends of a hungover PS2, Koei has finally got round to updating their formula for the current generation of consoles.
In recent months, we've put the boot into these wearisome hack-'n'-slashers for their stuck-in-the-mud gameplay, but they attract a small but fiercely loyal following in the west (no one review is more liable to fill an Xbox World staffer's inbox with abuse than a Dynasty Warriors massacre). So let's give DW6 a fair crack of the whip by simply reporting the facts. After all, you might like it. We used to know a girl who dipped chicken nuggets in fudge sauce; stranger things have happened.
All the tedium in China
Well, first up, experienced DW-ers will be well served with new maps and drop-in-and-out co-op mode (although there's no online option). An updated game engine allows your character to ride on boats, swim, clamber up ladders and other such things that were unheard of before. The graphics and animations have been updated to bring them up to 360 standard, and there's a notable increase in the amount of enemies onscreen, as if the number of characters on screen was ever an issue in these games.
If you've experienced the series before but found the tedious combat a huge turn-off, you might be interested to learn of DW6's Renbu system - chaining together large combos will unlock yet more moves, allowing you to link together combos that hypothetically could last forever. It's a cut above the simple systems in Ninety-Nine Nights, and marks this out as the best 'Warriors game to date.
Finally, what of those who've never played it before? It's a simple concept. You play as a number of generals, and your task is to lead battles, observing the ebb and flow of the conflict and adjusting your plans as and when necessary. Some live for the strategy, but we find that it just comes down to whacking buttons until your fingers turn to liquid. It's worth a rental to see if you like it - but it's not for us, and, we suspect it won't be for you.
DMC4 kicks DW's face off all night long. But, for strategy fans, this could be worth a night's rental.
- Improvements in key areas
- Decent, logical skill tree
- Monstrously monotonous