Maybe this is all in our fevered minds, but we could swear that nary a month passes without some form of Dynasty Warriors torture being inflicted upon our fragile consciousness. Yet no matter how much we castigate, how sadistically low that number in the bottom right corner plunges, the misery keeps on coming.
Surprise then - DW6: Empires is AMAZING! Nah, not really - you're not going to buy that. Truth is, despite vows from Koei that this instalment in the saga is rammed with box-fresh ideas, the end result is as scrote-shrinkingly shat as ever. Arguably even more so, as the further down the fan-pandering road this franchise winds, the more befuddled us non-believers become. After all, it was only during the vanilla DW6 that you could finally swim or climb ladders. Goodness! Whatever will those pioneers dream up next?
Hardcore fans might notice that the special attack system (the only semi-entertaining part of battles) has seen some sprucing up. The new Renbu gauge at least means that skilled players are rewarded for monster combos and avoiding damage with ever more spectacular death-dealing pyrotechnics.
If you choose the Ruler class for your hero (as opposed to the more action-based Officer and Vagrant alternatives), there's also a fleeting semblance of strategy in-between the boring bits, where you'll form alliances, look after the upkeep of defences, buy special 'cards' that give you resource bonuses and so on. It's here where Empires unsurprisingly shines brightest, albeit to nowhere near the extent of stablemate Bladestorm.
Our biggest high was stumbling upon larger-than-life warlord Dong Zhuo from the playable cast of millions, a preposterously rotund colossus who thumps the gazillions of identikit enemies into submission with what can only be described as a giant gold-plated doorknob, cackling evilly all the while. Maybe we should be taking the button-mashing melodrama more seriously, but the wading across of maps demolishing outposts is just so frustrating that it temporarily soured our love for gaming. Empires is that demoralising and, as such, any of the decent strategic filler is instantly rendered worthless.
If we felt that Omega Force were making any concessions to the fact that this is 2009 and running on Xbox 360, we'd feel more inclined to scour for occasional high points. As it is, buying this overly, overly, overly familiar reprise would be akin to sticking two fingers up to every decent developer out there, then murdering their pets. Please Koei, no more. Please.
Shatmandu. Could possibly only be shatter if it starred Leisure Suit Larry himself, in fact.
- Dong Zhuo... for the laffs
- Sub-Xbox 1 looks
- Sub-Final Fight gameplay