‘Dynasty Warriors 4’ Review for Xbox

Dynasty Warriors 4. As implied in the title, it is the fourth version of Koei’s long running title, Dynasty Warriors. Like the previous versions, this video game follows the story of ancient Chinese history, also known as the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The player takes control of one of many characters available in the video game and goes through various “Acts” hacking and slashing at the opposing force.

Gameplay:
Dynasty Warriors 4 plays like a traditional hack-and-slash type of video game. The player chooses a family and within that family the player chooses a character of that family to play. Once selected, the player follows the happenings of that family and the trials that they face to become the greatest family in Ancient China. Simply put, that means hacking and slashing at every single enemy in sight. Although there isn’t much thinking involved, there are a few perks that make the game interesting.

Even though Dynasty Warriors 4 is a hack and slash game, there is a RPG element to it. As you progress through the levels, you level up your character. You can increase stats on Life, Musou, Attack, and Defense. Life, obviously increases how much damage a the character can take before he or she dies. Musou is the “special attack” of the game. Each character has his or her own special musou attack that is just devastating to whoever gets in the way. Characters can unleash their musou by hitting enough enemies or getting hit enough. This fills up the musou gauge that is located right underneath the life bar, and when it fills up, with a flick of a button, the musou can be unleashed. The longer the guage bar, the longer the attack and the more times you can hit someone. So, the Musou stat is how long the musou gauge bar is. The Attack and Defense stats are pretty self explanatory, with attack being how much damage you inflict and defense being how much damage you receive.

Another RPG element is the leveing up of weapons. As you fight generals in each stage, you receive experience points for your weapon. Once you get enough, your weapon evolves into a stronger weapon. Also, the more combos you do on a general, the more experience points you get, so there is incentive to pull off the awesome combos in the game.

Speaking of combos, no hack and slash game is complete without them. Dynasty Warriors 4 delivers with a very simple combo system consisting of two attacks, hard and light. As your weapon increases in strength, the more attacks you can string together. And, if you’re good enough, you can string together a combo followed by a musou attack for even more devastating damage!

As you progress throughout the story, you pick up items that affect your character’s stats, such as increasing their attack or defense level. The strength of each item is determined by the level of the item and basically if you want to get the max level of an item, you got to play the game on hard. This gives incentive to play the game over again, as if wanting to beat the game with every single character in the game wasn’t incentive enough!

With most games, they give a very limited number of characters to choose from. But, as is the history of the Dynasty Warriors franchise, this is not the case. With well over tens of characters to choose from, there is definitely going to be hours and hours of extra gameplay after you beat the game with just one character. On top of that, there are many unlockable characters as well. Each character has his or her own unique weapon and appearance. They aren’t just color changes of the same model and labeled with a different name.

As far as types of gameplay, there are three basic types. Musou mode, which is like the story mode; Free Mode, which lets you revisit any level you’ve beaten using any character of any family; and Versus Mode, which lets you face off one on one with a friend. Musou and Free Mode also support co-op play so if you want to bring a friend along, it’s definitely possible!

The game runs pretty smoothly with very little load time. However, when there are literally fifty enemies around you, there is a very noticeable lag. This is probably what brings the game down a lot. The gameplay slows down considerably and some would think that it is enough to not even try the game, but the shear volume and depth of this game easily shadows this technical flaw.

Another flaw is that a game this big can get very repetitive. However, if you take a break from playing after a while, you will definitely come back to it later and have just as much fun with it.

Graphics:
The graphics of Dynasty Warriors 4 is pretty good. Of course, the newer games for Xbox are obviously better, but this game still boasts pretty good visuals. It is far better than the PS2, that’s for sure!

The enemy units are pretty much all twins with differences seen only in rank. A private would look different from a major and a major different from a captain and so forth. There are different models but with the frantic action going on, it wouldn’t have mattered if there were only two models for the whole game.

The environment is either bland or not bad. Nothing spectacular like Ninja Gaiden. The ground can be very flat visually at times. However, there are some stages with buildings and castles and these are fun to run through. They aren’t eye-popping, but they sure do look sweet after fighting in the mountains or fields.

Sound:
As with other Dynasty Warriors games, the music is a mix of traditional Chinese music and rock. It has a very interesting effect, but it doesn’t really add to the game. If you had the sound off and played, it really wouldn’t take away from the game. The voice acting isn’t bad, but it’s not award winning either. There’s also the option to have the voices in English or Japanese, a good plus for those out there who prefer the original voices.

In conclusion, Dynasty Warriors 4 is a very solid game even with its technical flaws and repetitiveness. There is so much to this game that it’s hard to cover it all in a review. Other features that weren’t really gone over include costume changes, dueling, and strategies. They aren’t essential parts of the game, but they do add nice interruptions to the hacking and slashing. All in all, this is a great game that will last hours, if not days and months of great but simple gameplay.

My rating: 9/10
Would I pay $50 for this game: yes (although, you can probably get it a lot cheaper now!)

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