IGN Review of Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires
And yet another rendition of the Dynasty Warriors franchise graces our PlayStation 2s with the release of Dynasty Warriors 5 Empires. Well, graces may not be the appropriate word, depending upon whether you're a fan of the series or not, though there are apparently plenty out there.
Just as the series has been doing for the past few "main" releases, Koei is in the midst of releasing updates and different variants of Dynasty Warriors 5. First came Extreme Legends, and now we have Empires. The game is essentially the sequel to and brings over the turn-based strategic elements of Dynasty Warriors 4 Empires. In the main Empire mode, you begin by assembling a crew of officers and picking a lot of land that your newly formed empire will begin on. Each turn, you have the option to perform a few maintenance moves and then invade a new territory should you feel inclined. The goal is to take over the whole land mass within 100 turns, or 25 years.
Aside from the bits of strategy however, DW5 Empires features the same old Dynasty Warriors gameplay that really hasn't changed much at all since its inception years ago. That is to say, it's outstayed its welcome, and Koei really needs to change things up. Hopefully the series will see an overhaul as it fully moves into the next-generation.
The gameplay still features hundreds of completely idiotic warriors on-screen and still heavily relies on mashing the Square button over and over and over again, with the occasional press of Triangle or Circle thrown in just to mix things up ever so slightly. Again, nothing much has changed here and the basic gameplay is really starting to feel outdated. Even with all of the strategic elements added on, you still have to hit up the battlefield from time to time and the combat is really quite poor and entirely boring.
Enemy soldiers are dumb as bricks, to the point where standing still will only get you hit once every ten seconds or so if you aren't near an officer. The soldiers simply swarm around you and then wait to be killed. This isn't fun. At least the enemy officers fight back, but the one-on-one combat is quite poor because the blocking system is essentially broken. It's really touchy and half the time it seems like your character doesn't want to block whatsoever. On top of this, it's quite easy to be caught in the midst of a combo, which can be pretty frustrating.
Outside of the actual combat, there's a semi-interesting strategy game here. Though there's a Free mode included where you can jump into a set of predefined battles and play as either the attacking or defending side, the Empire mode is really the focus of the game and easily its coolest part. It's only about 2.46% as deep as a PC strategy game, but it does have some redeeming qualities about it.
Each turn you're able to enhance your technology, hire new officers, buy new soldiers, form alliances and so forth. You have a limited amount of things you can do per turn, which keeps the game moving at a simpler pace since you really don't have to worry about 5,000 things at once, but what's there is decent.
It's not enough to save the poor gameplay, however. Mashing a button for hours on end while getting stuck in combos because of a poor blocking system is simply no fun.
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