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Dynasty Warriors 5
The Dynasty Warriors series of games keeps going and going! We're up to #5 now - with Chinese warriors running around slashing through historical battles.
If you have never played any of the Dynasty Warriors games, I highly recommend at least renting it. The series is incredibly popular and many other games tend to use bits and pieces of its style. In general you choose a warrior from one of several families. You take your warrior down his or her "path" in life - moving from battle to battle. Each battle involves you, your favorite weapon, and MASSIVE groups of enemies to bash your way through.
Remember the intro sequence to Lord of the Rings, where the Dark Lord Sauron and his giant mace taking a sweep and hitting multiple people in a row? This is the same sort of thing. You wade into large groups of enemies and swing your sword, knocking over 4-5 at a time. It can seem odd at first for someone used to realistic FPS games where your aim is one on one fighting. But the super-human bashing gets addictive very quickly, and you watch your KO count rise quickly to 200, 300, and more. It gives you a great sense of satisfaction.
Each Dynasty Warriors sequel improves the graphics, voices, reactions of your enemies and friends. In this version, you have a loyal bodyguard who stays by your side. When you do a power up attack, so does your bodyguard!
You can ride on horses, collect special items, plan out your strategies and hear the cheers of victory when you triumph. As always, you can unlock new people, new outfits, and work to achieve every ending.
The graphics are really nice, but are a bit polygonal. That's simply a limitation of the PS2, though. I really believe this is about as good as you are going to get given the PS2's abilities. You get flowing water, falling rain, fogs, cool special effects, and rather detailed armors.
The sound is very arcadey - but that's the point of this game. It's not about realistic stealth and atmosphere. It's about wild hacking and slashing. You get bouncy rock music and a lot of built-in quotes - "In the name of justice!" and "you've been training hard!" Nobody sounds even remotely Chinese, but I suppose many US players would complain that the voices were hard to understand if they tried to make it more authentic. I also suppose that a few of the outfits look more like medieval knight wear than Chinese traditional warriors.
The system of building up your levels, your bodyguard's levels and working from map to map is pretty much the same as in all of the series. You can really learn a lot about Chinese history, too, by playing these game series.
I really enjoy this series a lot. There is the simple hack-and-slash that is so gratifying after a long day of work - a feeling that you've waded through the enemy and come out victorious. There is also the ability to strategize your assault, to study the map and determine the most efficient way of winning the objective.
Some may ask why they really need to buy 5 if they own 1-4 already. It's a fair enough question, just how many Dynasty Warrior versions can you really need? But the graphics are nicer and the gameplay is definitely fun. I'd gladly consider this an 'upgrade' that I buy once a year, to improve my fun and enjoyment of the game. We definitely get months of fun gameplay from each release!
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