In the year 184 CE, an uprising of the common people took place in China that would lead to the breakup of the country into three regions. This uprising, known as the Yellow Turban Rebellion, was a peasant revolt in china against the unfair treatment of the citizenry during the last part of the Han Dynasty. This dynasty was greatly weakened by the rebellion which lasted for some 20 years, and in the ensuing chaos the Han was crushed and the country was divided among three major generals into three kingdoms. This volatile period is the setting of Dynasty Warriors 9, developed/published by Omega Force and Koei Tecmo.
Flow attacks are combo attacks that change depending on an enemy’s state so if you place an elemental crystal in your sword you can freeze, burn, etc your enemies.
Dynasty Warriors 9 carries over the beloved characters from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms tale and presents an experience that is familiar to fans while offering some new features to spice things up a bit. Taking pace across ten+ chapters, players must complete missions, purchase property and navigate political rivals to achieve the ultimate goal; the reunification of China. Players have the freedom of choosing how they want to proceed through each chapter, whether it is by completing every single mission, roaming freely across the open terrains of China, or just rushing in straight towards the final objective.
Villages will offer blacksmiths, shops and other stores to keep your weapons strong and your potion bag full.
Dynasty Warriors 9 is built much like many modern action RPGs with the decision of how to proceed being left entirely to the player. Previous entries in this series are very linear with story elements lined up for the player to hit in a one-after-the-other fashion. However, this latest entry provides a vast open world that, while it is segregated into more than ten chapters with certain missions and events only available in particular chapters, gives you the choice of where to go, what to do and how to do it. The game map is huge and offers several different regions of China to explore as well as many different types of terrain to traverse. From craggy mountains to snowy valleys and rainy grasslands, the differing landscapes kept things interesting to say the least.
You can kill animals for materials to make weapons and armor. Sometimes you will need to hunt them and sometimes they will hunt you.
There is a plethora of things to do while making your way across the vast Chinese countryside such as coming upon small-scale battles that may pop up between your forces and the enemy forces. In addition, you can gain materials through fishing and hunting or just finding precious minerals on the ground like iron or crystals that you can use to craft weapons or equipment. There are also flowers and plants that you can pick so that you can craft potions and tonics for health rejuvenation or magic spells. You will also stumble upon villages and cities that will allow you to buy and/or sell weapons and items, as well as obtaining useful mission information from loose-tongued villagers. You can even buy property in different areas of the country so that you will always have a place to rest, send letters to friends or foes or to store your extra items and equipment.
You can set traps to catch your prey.
Gameplay in Dynasty Warriors 9 continues in the hack-and-slash tradition that has you dispatching hundreds of enemies on the field of battle either on horseback or on foot. However, to make things a little more interesting this time around, a new battle system of sorts has been implemented that really opens up combat by levels of degrees above previous entries in the series. The base Warriors action system has been revamped and replaced with the new State Combo System, which is composed of three types of attacks; Flow, Reactive and Trigger. Flow attacks are combo attacks that change depending on an enemy’s state, Reactive attacks create optimal attacks for the situation at hand, and Trigger attacks can trigger amazing high-damage-count combos. Also included is an Interactive action that allows players to take advantage of the surrounding terrain and environment.
Chaining your combos will allow for some cool onscreen effects and will payoff in EXP and items.
While the Dynasty Warriors franchise hasn’t been known as the best looking games to grace a console, there have been some entries in the past that have really looked quite amazing. However, where the character designs really shine and gives them a strong visual representation of historical Chinese figures, the environments in this ninth entry seem uninspired and looks a lot like it is being played on a PS2. The armor of the different characters that you will get to play as such as Cao Cao, Zhenji, Xiahou Yuan and Yue Jin is brightly colored, very detailed down to the stitch and very different from other characters. In contrast, the environments seem to have very low resolution, are drab and brown in a lot of areas and just don’t help to propel this entry into the list of games released this year that just look amazing in every aspect. The remastered edition of Shadow of the Colossus puts this game to shame and that is just inexcusable.
Character designs are exquisite and help to differentiate one person from another. Enemy army units all pretty much look the same, however.
So far, regardless of the visuals, I have enjoyed getting to know how the State Combo System works and when to use it to gain the maximum benefit on the battle field. There is one issue that I need to discuss and that is the voice actors and the dialogue in the game. This is the first Dynasty Warriors game that I have played that offers English voice work but the style of the voice overs is wholly out-of-place. Just imagine the characters in any one of the last five Final Fantasy games dressed in authentic Chinese armor and you have exactly imagined what it’s like in this game. It’s very nice finally being able to understand what is being said without having to read subtitles but when the commander in the Chinese army speaks like a privileged European twenty-something son of a king, it really takes you out of the moment.
As you complete missions, you will get scrolls that will grant you special abilities or will buff up ones that you already have.
Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed my time in post Han Dynasty China where life was a daily struggle and making your name on the battlefield was a matter of life and death as well as what station in society you would occupy. The new gameplay features are a breath of fresh air in a series that was starting to feel stale and the music and soundtrack, as always, is superb. I did come across an instance where the game didn’t explain clearly enough what I was supposed to do to complete a mission, but I was able to finally figure it out after a little trial and error and proceed on to the next. This didn’t happen too often during my play sessions as the more I played, the more I was able to acclimate myself to how the game wanted me to play it. The new open world design of Dynasty Warriors 9 and the new State Combo System is enough to make me feel comfortable recommending fans of the series to pick this one up and if you have never played a Dynasty Warriors game and you like Western RPGs, this would be a great jumping on point.
This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Join the Yellow Turban Rebellion and witness the birth of a new dynasty.
Challenge - 9.5/10
Gameplay - 9.0/10
Design - 7.5/10
+ Great story and cast members.
+ State Combo system is a welcome addition to an old favorite.
+ Open world design takes game to next level.
- Environments are boring and uninspired.
- Voice over actors should have tried to be as authentic as possible.