Dynasty Warriors 8 PS3 review – No rolling the dice on this battlefield
Oi! Stop with those ‘same old story, I’ll turn the page now’ thoughts. Yes, this is another Dynasty Warriors game and, as the screenshot shows, far from a radical overhaul. iPads undergo more extreme redesigns than DW, but that doesn’t mean Omega Force’s battlefield beat-’em-up deserves to be sold down the river. This year’s game hides not just a number of brand-new mechanics under its vaguely sagging large-scale battle system, but a whole new mode, too.
Cards on the table – you’re still playing as one improbably powerful warrior, scything your way through thousands of opponents in complicated battleground layouts, galloping from one objective to another (spoiler: all the objectives are to kill everyone), helping out allies and eventually emerging victorious, circle blades drenched in the blood of your enemies. Call it repetitive if you like, but would you damn Tetris for endlessly slinging blocks at you? Don’t think about that one too much – it’s a watertight argument. Endless massacres are both the means and the end in DW8, so you’d better get used to exercising your killing thumb.
The new additions to Omega Force’s age-old formula aren’t about shaking things up then, but instead they bring slightly more variety to your moveset. Rage, which builds up gradually like a special meter throughout the battle to be unleashed with a giddy tap of R3, gives you the strength and clearing power of a cruise liner for a few seconds until it depletes. Best used in the midst of a healthy attack chain for maximum carnage or to dominate a tricky boss, it’s one more device to throw into your attack and adds to the addictive feeling of absurd power. Likewise Storm Rush, another burst meter mechanic, and Switch Counter, which blocks enemies’ power attacks and turns them into your own frenzied assault.
Story mode is, as ever, a journey of peaks and troughs as you grasp the narrative trajectory of each clan in a cutscene and then lose all sense of purpose in befuddling fights spread across labyrinthine maps. It’s the new Ambitions mode that consistently renews your enthusiasm for the fray – here you’re building a castle by gathering resources on the field, then upgrading buildings in your Zen garden-like abode.
Sooner or later, Dynasty Warriors is going to have to take a long, hard look at its animations and visual design and realise this isn’t 2005. It needs to take notice of One Piece: Pirate Warriors’ contagious, larger-than-life combat. DW8’s new additions are just enough to grab your attention, but are unlikely to get you to play enough to care about the Wei clan’s plight or level a character up to max strength. This is the last game Omega Force can push out before tearing down the framework and starting afresh.