By Steve Baltimore / April 7th, 2014
|Title||Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete|
|Release Date||March 25, 2014|
It has been a few years since I played a game in the Dynasty Warriors franchise. So, when a chance to play Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete came along, I jumped at the opportunity to see how the game has changed over the years. Was I pleasantly surprised or completely let down?
For those unfamiliar with the series, the story of Dynasty Warriors is inspired by the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It details the events and battles between the Wei, Shu and Wu Kingdoms in ancient China. I have always found the story very fascinating, personally. It actually inspired me to learn a bit more about the history of China by the time I was done playing a few of them years ago.
Graphically, the game looks really nice. The PlayStation 4 version is clearly upscaled from the the PS3 version, and you may notice a few jaggy textures here and there, but this really has no effect on anything. The frame rate is buttery smooth even with tons of enemies on the screen, a special move throwing people everywhere, or anything else that may be going on.
The Vita version looks pretty nice, as well. Though, at times, I think the graphics can look a little dark. This could just be my eyes adjusting to switching back and forth between the PS4 and Vita versions, but I still think making them a little brighter in a few spots wouldn’t have hurt anything. The frame rate on the Vita version was pretty good, and stays solid most of the time. There are times, especially when the area is on fire, when the frame rate will take some noticeable drops. Though these drops rarely affect the gameplay, they are present.
The sound effects are still great after all of these years. The bangs and clangs of battle are present here, along with crowds cheering as you kill a officer or getting another 100 KO’s on a map. It is all pretty standard fare for one of these titles. The music is fantastic, and these hard-rocking tunes will get you in the perfect frame of mind to go out and slay hundreds of foes in battle. You may even find yourself humming a bar or two from them long after the battle is over. There is no Japanese audio to be found here, as the voice work is all dubbed. Honestly, I can’t tell if this is a great dub or a horrible one. Some of the voices fit the characters to a T, while others do not. I will say that, for the most part, I enjoyed the voice work, and it added to the overall experience of the title.
The gameplay is that of simple hack ‘n’ slash game. You will notice the map in top-right corner of the screen. Your objectives will be marked with red boxes, letting you know which area you should head to next. One of my complaints with the Vita version of the game is the map is much too small, and it’s hard to figure out exactly where you are at times. The left analog stick will move your character, while pressing square performs a normal attack. Much like many others before it, if you press square a few times in a row you will perform a combo. You can mix in the triangle button to perform different EX Attacks. These will be available if your character is using his or her preferred weapon. Pressing X will allow you to jump – you can attack while in the air or, if you have popped enemies up into the air, you can jump up and continue to pound them. If you are knocked in the air, you can hit L1 to do a somersault and land on your feet. Pressing L2 will call your horse. If you just tap it, the horse will stop beside you and you will need to press X to mount it. If you hold down L2, however, you will mount it, and as soon as it gets near you. On the Vita version (since there are no L2/R2 buttons), this is done by tapping the screen or the Select button.
You will also a gauge notice at the bottom the screen. This is the Musou attack. These are the big house-cleaning special moves. There are a few different types of these – pressing circle or holding R1 or R on the Vita will activate two different attacks. If you are in the air, there is a Musou attack there, as well. Just simply press circle while in the air. There are two-player Musou attacks called Double Musou attacks. If two players activate their Musou attacks at the same time, this will link them with an electrical field. Last, but not least, is a True Musou attack. This will occur if your health is in the red, and will be more powerful than a normal Musou attack. There is one other special attack I need to mention. You will notice a second meter beside your character’s portrait at the bottom the screen. This is your Rage meter. When it is full, you can press R3 on the PS4 or tap the screen on the Vita to activate Rage Mode. Your stats all increase during this mode, and, if you hold down the Musou attack button, you will keep attacking until your Musou gauge is completely gone. If you do a certain amount of damage during this attack, it will become a True Rage Attack, which are crazy screen-clearing attacks.
You will carry two different weapons into battle. When you see an enemy officer, you will note that sometimes they will have an exclamation point or a blue circular meter over them. This will tell you if the current weapon you are using will have an advantage or disadvantage when fighting them. An exclamation point will put you at a disadvantage, while the blue meter means you have the advantage. You can press R1 or R on the Vita at any time to change between the two weapons. If you press the switch button during an attack this will cause a switch attack. If you have the advantage as you attack the officer, you will notice the blue circle will start to deplete as you attack. If you deplete the entire meter, a Storm Rush will be activated. This is a ton of slashes all at once, which will happen automatically unless you go into the options and set them to manual. Advantages and Disadvantages will be determined by your weapon’s affinity, of which there are three; man, earth and heaven.
This may sound like a ton of controls, but really the gameplay is quite simple. There is a ton of variety in the combat, and there are around 1200 different weapons to choose from with many different types. Some say these games are very easy, and you can play all the way through with just mindless pressing of the square button. I would agree, on the lower difficulty levels, that this is probably true, but I doubt that they could to do on any of the higher difficulties.
Now, with all of that out of the way, let’s talk about the different gameplay modes. First up is Story Mode. Yeah, pretty much explains itself, doesn’t it? You have six different stories to choose from. Each story will consist of several battles detailing the story of that dynasty. The officers you play as will level up as they gain EXP. This will carry over to other modes as well. Your officers will learn skills based on your performance in battle. These are learned in a variety of different ways. One example is the Equestrian skill, which you gain by slaying an enemy officer from horseback. These skills are shared by all of the officers, and, every time you meet the requirement for it, the skill will upgrade. Each officer can equip up to four skills to use during a battle. These, just like EXP, will carry over into most of the other modes. As mentioned before, red boxes on the map at the top of screen will show your objectives on the current stage, but it is good to explore around because, if you meet certain conditions, you can unlock hypothetical storylines. This will change the story up a little, and adds a bit of replay value to Story Mode. These hypothetical storylines will be unlocked in the other game modes, as well.
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