The 7th incarnation of the formulaic Dynasty Warriors series, "DW7" barely deviates from the standard established by prior games and in fact regresses in several important fields.
"Dynasty Warriors" is a series of action games based on the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese History, and more specifically "Romance of the Three Kingdoms", the historical novels about that period. Their well-known gameplay involves taking control of an officer (one of the many important figures of that period) and slashing your way through enemy armies. This has been the standard of gameplay since Dynasty Warriors 3 (1 & 2 were fighting games), and unfortunately DW7 really adds nothing to that basic gameplay concept.
DW7 has two modes - and only two. The first is Story Mode, a linear progression through a kingdom's history with automatically-assigned characters. The second is Conquest Mode, a more open-ended game mode where different challenges are overcome with whatever characters the player has available to use. Both of these basically translate to "defeat a bunch of guys and some enemy officers"; there's not exactly any intellectually-deep modes options here. While this has always been true of the core Dynasty Warriors games, it's somewhat annoying that the "Empires" games (which added a strategic mode to the basic beat-em-up gameplay) is still kept as its own side-game. Also absent from DW7 is the create-a-character mode which had been present for several games prior.
Dynasty Warriors 7's only real "addition" to gameplay is the weapon system. In previous games, each character had one weapon type they used, and that was it. In DW7, any character can use any weapon, but with varying levels of proficiency. Each character has one weapon they're "meant" to use, and using that weapon gives them a bonus, but it's possible to carry two weapons at a time and switch between them during battle. The act of switching out gives a little bonus too, in the form of a special attack related to the weapon's type. For example, switching out a sword will unleash a shockwave before the weapon is switched, switching out a spear will do a spinning combo attack, and so on.
The weapon system means that the only value of the characters (of which the game still has 50+) is in their appearance and their special "Musou" attacks. I found it was incredibly easy to just take one character throughout the entire game because her Musou attack was far more powerful than any other characters', and since I could use any weapon without penalty the standard reasons for changing characters didn't really apply.
The game's graphics are improved from previous incarnations, but it's not really enough. Everything still looks the same; the maps are still box canyons, the style is still the same, the characters are the same, etc. The slightly improved rendering is barely noticeable because there's just so much stuff on the screen. Everything about the game is really just "another Dynasty Warriors game", and while that's serviceable, it's not really enough to recommend it.
We purchased this game with our own funds.
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