IGN Review of Dynasty Warriors 6
The original Dynasty Warriors 6 hit the PS3 and 360 early this year and now Koei's button-mashing extravaganza is making its way to the PS2. This new version offers all the content from the current-gen release and also provides gamers with a few additional bits of content (including new Musou modes and stages), but to me it feels like a step backwards, despite the extra nine months of porting. The PS2 version not only looks atrocious and runs at an embarrassing speed but just doesn't feel satisfying. As has been the case for years, the Dynasty Warriors games aren't fun anymore and any positives that can be found in the experience are lost in a sea of overwhelming issues.
If you're incredibly late to the party, Dynasty Warriors 6 yet again follows the exploits of ancient Chinese warriors of legend in the time of the Three Kingdoms. Names and places are thrown around flippantly in the game's Musou mode, the main source of "narrative" and the game type you'll be spending most of your time in. Dynasty Warriors 6 also has a Free mode which lets you revisit previously beaten scenarios, and special Challenges that are set in the same gameplay mechanics but task you with different goals, like speed running through an environment or destroying environmental objects. These Challenges are a joke, honestly, but I'll touch on that later.
The primary gameplay components in Dynasty Warriors 6 are depressingly familiar. When starting up Musou mode, you're shown a few quick cutscenes which do a poor job in setting up the action, then you're escorted into a pre-battle menu where you can equip weapons, work on your skill tree and scope out the current mission objectives. Ultimately, most of your objectives will be to mow through hordes of poorly animated enemies and slowly take over bases strewn across the map. It's a formula that Koei games have employed for years and it's still present in the PS2 version.
Taking your warrior onto the battlefield is pretty straight-forward. You have a series of Normal attacks at your disposal, as well as Power attacks that can modify your combos. After building up your Musou gauge, you'll be able to pull off the franchise's iconic Musou attacks which can chew through enemy soldiers with ease.
One of the newer additions to battle that came with Dynasty Warriors 6 was the Renbu system, and it's still in place here. By attacking enemies, your Renbu Rank will go up and give your warrior stronger attacks. You'll even be able to chain more techniques together to create longer combos. As fancy and exciting as that sounds, you're actually just mashing away at two buttons in order to mash away at two buttons even more. These systems might have been interesting a while ago, but when you consider the infinitely refreshing and unique gameplay experiences that have emerged in other games in just the last few months, the Dynasty Warriors battle mechanics feel tragically stale.
The only appealing aspect of Dynasty Warriors 6, which taps into a gamer's inner RPG enthusiast, is the potential to level up your officers and unlock new abilities. I'm a tremendous RPG fan so giving me the option to level grind always has a certain appeal, as long as the manner in which you grind is fun and fulfilling. But therein lies the problem: there's nothing fulfilling about battles in Dynasty Warriors, especially when you consider how little the franchise has progressed over the years.
Trying to seek refuge in the game's Challenges will offer little relief because they're boring and spin off the same experience you'll have in the main Musou mode. I had a fairly hardy laugh at Speed Run's expense (I felt a bit guilty afterwards) because the challenge is completely ridiculous. Your goal is to travel to every base on a map as quickly as you can. That's it. The developers took one of the most boring aspects of the experience (running around) and built a whole mini-game around it. I suppose, if you're a hardcore Dynasty Warriors fan and a racing game fanatic, you could glean some enjoyment from this distraction, but I doubt it.
Let's face it: there are enemy soldiers in Speed Run, but some of them don't even have AI programs running. They actually stand there and will let you push them around like inanimate pots. The only thing that attacked me the entire time was a dedicated pack of wolves. I admire those wolves...
These many issues are exacerbated when you witness (and you'll most certainly witness) the technical hitches that plague the title. Not only do character models and environments look terrible (even for a PS2 game), character pop-in seems worse than ever. Your opponents will flicker in and out of existence mere feet in front of you and the whole affair feels cheap and poorly executed. Playing co-op is a complete joke because the entire game will run in slow-motion. It amazes me that after nine months of porting the game over to the PS2, the co-op mode is still so flawed.
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