Dynasty Warriors 5 is the fifth game from Koei under the Dynasty Warriors title (this is excluding renditions of other titles like Xtreme and Empires). Like its predecessors, it is again a hack and slash game with some RPG elements to it. The story hasn’t changed because it’s based on historic events that took place in ancient China.
Dynasty Warriors 5 tells the tale of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Shu, Wu, and Wei. Through the game, you select generals from one of these three kingdoms and tackles key battles that took place in history. As you progress through the game, you are informed of the background story of each general and how they relate to the kingdom they are fighting for. Also, you will be able to unlock characters of different factions other than the three kingdoms and learn of their tales as well.
Dynasty Warriors 5 has very much similar characteristics of the previous titles but it has added a few features that doesn’t necessarily make it a new game on its own, but a new experience nonetheless.
Dynasty Warriors 5 would not be Dynasty Warriors if it didn’t have a large collection of characters to choose from. This time around, Koei has added 6 new characters to play on top of the 42 available in Dynasty Warriors 4. What’s more, each character has their own unique story line, that means there are a total of 48 different stories to tell instead of the original three in the previous Dynasty Warriors game.
This, however, has a drawback. Each character has only about five stages to clear in Musou Mode (story mode) before the game is over. Each character takes about an hour and half to beat, multiply that by 48 and you have a lot of hours on your hands, but because you are switching characters so often, the game seems very short lived compared to the sprawling number of levels required to beat in the previous Dynasty Warriors. Another drawback is that because there are only about five stages per character, the choice of battles are completely linear. You cannot choose which order to fight your battles as you could in the previous title. This also means because of that, there are no hidden stages to unlock, which is another drawback.
Another change to Dynasty Warriors 5 is the weapons of each general. Instead of leveling them up like in Dynasty Warriors 4, you have to find them by defeating officers and breaking boxes and barrels, like in Dynasty Warriors 3. This can be good and bad. It’s good if you liked the Dynasty Warriors 3 system and bad if you like the Dynasty Warriors 4 system. Personally, I preferred to level up my weapon, it gave incentive to do massive combos on enemy generals. Plus, because you had to reach a level 9 weapon before you could attempt to get the level 10 weapon, it gave an additional feeling of accomplishment. This time around however, you do not need a certain level weapon to go after your final weapon. In fact, there are only four different types of weapons and once you become strong enough, you can tackle the battle in free mode to try and obtain your final weapon. This takes away from the accomplishment feeling, but it allows you to use your super powerful weapon on super weak enemies if you didn’t finish your Musou Mode. Despite the criticism of the weapon system, a good feature is that you can choose which weapon to equip. Dynasty Warriors 5 allows each character to have up to four weapons in their inventory and you get to choose which weapon you wish to fight with before each battle.
Along with the weapons, the usual items that you can equip are available as well. In Dynasty Warriors 5, every character is limited to carry only four additional items instead of the 4-7 in the previous title. This sort of defeats the purpose of having many items because most players will just usually equip the four basic items, Life increase, Attack increase, Defense increase, and Musou increase. The orbs are back as well but this time they must be found by meeting certain requirements in certain battles, sort of like finding special items or ultimate weapons. The saddles are back as well, and like the previous title, you have to meet certain requirements to get these as well.
The bodyguard system has been redone too. Instead of up to eight bodyguards, you can only have one. They are smarter though and you can do a double Musou combo with them, the same move you could do if you were playing with a friend in split screen. Also, at the end of each battle, new body guards will come and offer their services. You can choose to add them to your library of body guards or to dismiss them. As they level up, they gain new skills which become valuable in battle. They now have the ability to develop skills like elemental attacks and healing skills. They’ll heal you if you are in danger, which can come in pretty handy at times.
The basic gameplay has not changed. Dynasty Warriors 5 is still a hack and slash game. You enter a battle and are required to beat the boss general before you or your general gets killed. You take your character and just go through the battlefield hacking and slashing away at anything with a red bar above their heads. Dynasty Warriors 5 seems to be a whole lot easier than the previous title as foot soldiers die left and right. It’s very easy to reach a KO count of over 500 as they swarm you in greater numbers. The officers however are thougher than in the previous titles. They take a bit more patience to beat but aren’t considerably more difficult. One thing that helps in taking out the officers is a new ability called the Musou rage. This mode is achieved by picking up a Rage item and clicking the R3 button. This puts your character in a “rage mode” where you attack and speed increase. Also, your Musou attack will be a True Musou attack regardless of your life status.
Horses and elephants are back as well. This time around, the mounted attack is a lot more powerful than it was in the previous titles, except for the elephants. Their strength seems to have been toned down a bit. Another addition to the animals found in the game is the inclusion of tigers. Tigers act as body guards and will attack enemies. If facing an enemy tiger, you cannot kill them. To get rid of them, you have to dispose of their master.
The voice acting in Dynasty Warriors is just horrible, plain and simple. The voices are just over dramatic and very repetitive during battles. The Xbox version, which is scheduled for a fall release, is said to have the original Japanese voice acting as an option. Hopefully, that will sound better than the English acting.
The music is similar, as Koei seems to really like mixing in electric guitar with traditional Asian music. It’s not as bad as it was in Dynasty Warriors 4, but it’s still there.
The enemy soldiers sound odd too when they get hit or die. Sometimes they sound like they should, men dying on the battlefield, other times they sound like little girls shrieking. It seems like the lower the rank of the soldier you beat, the higher pitched their voices get.
The graphics are a huge redeeming feature of this game. The graphics are just incredible in Dynasty Warriors 5. Not only do the characters and environments look gorgeous, the fog of war has been pushed way back and there is hardly or no issues with frame-rate! The game runs perfectly fine when tens of soldiers attack you all at once and the pop ups of objects in the distance are reduced considerably. During some battles, you can even see streaks of sunlight as they break through the clouds onto the battlefield, truly giving it a majestic feel.
The solution to the frame-rate is what really helps this game out. This issue has caused problems in the previous game, but to see that they finally fixed it should please any Dynasty Warriors fan.
In conclusion, there are many aspects that were changed for Dynasty Warriors 5 and there were many that were kept the same. Is this game worth buying? Well, if you are a hard core fan, yes, it’s worth it. If you’ve never played a Dynasty Warriors game, it’s worth checking out. If you really liked Dynasty Warriors 4, this probably isn’t the game for you There are so many changes from the 4th edition that the only redeeming factor would be the fixing of the frame-rate issues. However, if you were an avid 3 fan, this is definitely the game for you. It’s a good game however you look at it, but in my opinion, it would be have a better game if they mixed the best features of 4 with the technical solutions of 5.
My rating: 8/10
I would pay: $35 for this game (granted, this is because I loved Dynasty Warriors 4)