Developer: Omega Force
Release Date: February 24, 2008
If you own a video game system, you've probably played at least one Dynasty Warriors title. They're out for every platform, from the PlayStation 2 to the Game Boy Advance, to the Nintendo Wii. The Warriors franchise in general has become the most prolific in recent memory, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 different unique titles in only seven years! It's no wonder that a franchise this large has started to grow a bit … stale. It's not that the basic gameplay isn't as fun as it was when we first picked up Dynasty Warriors 2 , but one can only play the same characters, smash through the same stages, against the same enemies, only so many times. To be fair, each Dynasty Warriors title make changes, but they're changes that would appeal to the hardcore fans; to more casual gamers, it's all the same. Thankfully, Omega Force has heard these much-issued complaints and has decided to finally give the series a much-needed makeover in Dynasty Warriors 6.
The basic game flow in Dynasty Warriors 6 is unchanged from the previous games in the series. Take control of one (or two, in co-op mode) super-powered Chinese warriors and tear through an enemy army, pausing occasionally to duel with other super-powered Chinese warriors, until you've taken down the leader of the opposing army. It's a tried-and-true formula, and for the most part, unchanged.
There are, however, a few new additions to the basic gameplay to spice things up. For example, the Base system is making its way over from Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. Each enemy-occupied area has its own "hit points" that decrease with every enemy you slay within it. Slay enough, and you take over that base. While this is important on its own to stem the endless tide of enemy reinforcements, it's also quite important because of another new wrinkle in the Dynasty Warriors system: Enemies no longer drop hit point restoring items. Instead, these important goodies can only be earned through the occasional treasure chest or as the prize for taking over a base. While most of the changes to the overall Dynasty Warriors formula are only going to be apparent to the die-hard fans, there are a few major changes to the tried-and-true blueprints that should interest both veterans and newcomers alike.
One of the most noticeable changes is that every character in Dynasty Warriors 6 has received some kind of makeover. The changes range from the minor, such as a new design, to the more extreme. The Wu strategist, Zhou Yu, has quite a few changes; he has a brand new outfit and hairstyle, and he's traded in his scimitar for a staff, complete with a new set of moves and abilities. Likewise, series favorite Lu Bu has traded in his trademark spear for a bizarre weapon that can only be described as a giant cross made of spears, which only serves to turn the unusually invincible warrior into even more of a threat. While not every character has received as big a revamp as these two, most of your series favorites have been changed in some way. This is sure to make some Dynasty Warriors fans cry out in anguish, but it actually brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the quickly stagnating series.
Even the method with which these characters level up has been completely changed. Gone are the stat-increasing items found in other Dynasty Warriors games. Instead, much like Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, your characters now gain levels by earning experience points. These levels don't provide set stat increases, however, and instead give the player "skill points" that can be spent on the game's skill menu, which resembles nothing so much as Final Fantasy X's sphere grid. Set up like a board game, each "skill point" allows you to move one space ahead, giving your character the bonus that's specified on the space. Various branching path splits and possible starting points mean that players can pick how their characters develop, but it also means that no longer will every character be able to match Lu Bu in strength!
By and large, the biggest change to Dynasty Warriors 6 is the introduction of the new Renbu system, which replaces the chain combos found in the other Warriors titles. Combos now work like this: X is a fast and swift attack, Y is a strong and slow attack, and pressing either button repeatedly launches a combo. New attacks come from the Renbu rank, which has a special indicator bar that charges as you repeatedly attack enemies with large chain combos. The longer the chained combo, the more the bar fills up, and when it fills up enough, you gain a Renbu level and a new attack is added to the end of your X and Y combos. Thus, a regular attack is X-X, but at Renbu level two, it becomes X-X-X, and so on; pressing Y while in the middle of an X combo starts the Y combo instead. There is a downside, though: Although your Renbu rank rises as you perform combos, you also lose Renbu whenever you suffer a strong attack from enemies. Repeated strong attacks can even lower your Renbu level, making you weaker and easier to kill, which is certainly not a good thing when you're up against a foe who was already giving you trouble.
Renbu ranks also power your character's weapons. Each weapon has one of three different types: standard, strength and skill, which come into play as the warrior's Renbu rank increases. Standard weapons gain additional reach, strength weapons gain additional power, and skill weapons become much faster. The higher your Renbu rank, the greater this effect. The real fun comes when your Renbu rank reaches the level of infinity, at which point your weapon's elemental attribute kicks in (if it has it), so not only are you tossing around super-powerful, super-long combos, but you're also shooting lightning or fire from your weapon! Of course, if you keep losing your Renbu ranks, those fancy weapons are nothing more than sharp pieces of metal.
While they're still not the best on the market, all of the Dynasty Warriors characters have received a much-needed boost and makeover, both in design and in graphical quality. In general, they look better, move smoother and lag less than their last-generation counterparts. Beyond that, not much has changed, which may disappoint some, but it's a small price to pay for silky-smooth gameplay. The ancient Chinese battlefields themselves look about as good as they ever did, and the graphical effects are roughly unchanged from what you've seen in Orochi Warriors and Samurai Warriors 2.
Dynasty Warriors 6 is inarguably the biggest change to the Dynasty Warriors formula in ages. Between the redesigned characters, the completely revamped combo system and countless other minor changes, it only resembles Dynasty Warriors 5 in the basic "smash everyone" gameplay. The only real question is if these changes, which may seem amazingly major to Dynasty Warriors veterans, will be enough to revitalize interest among gamers who have grown tired of Dynasty Warriors' seemingly identical sequels. Those who are curious, or simply in the mood to tear their way through ancient China, will want to check out Dynasty Warriors 6 when it hits shelves this February.
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