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PS2 Review - 'Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires'

by The Six Billion Dollar Man on Oct. 4, 2004 @ 1:37 a.m. PDT

'Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires' introduces a new stage and strategy system to the series' frenetic battlefield action. In the new system, players begin the game with a map of Ancient China, divided into 24 different regions. Players start with one region, and then choose another region to invade. Next, officers will recommend a battle strategy, and then combat begins. Victory goes to the first warrior who unifies all 24 regions under a single kingdom.

Genre: Strategy
Publisher: KOEI
Developer: KOEI
Release Date: August 31, 2004

Buy 'DYNASTY WARRIORS 4: Empires': PlayStation 2

Today I received a copy of Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires, not being an avid player of the series, I wondered what they had changed in this version. DW4: Empires at first glance looked exactly like its predecessors. It wasn’t till I start playing that I realized this wasn’t more of the same. Let’s get to it.

As far as I can tell the story element hasn’t changed much from game to game, based in ancient china, battling warlords and emperors. The game does allow you to choose a historic or fictional campaign. I am not sure of the historical accuracy but I do have to say ancient china rocked. Who wouldn’t want to have a massive army of sword wielding, karate chopping soldiers to do your bidding?

The actual battle system is the same as the previous games, real time weapon melee combat. Where you choose a character and just fight your way through wave after wave of enemies. The new element to the game play is the turn based empire mode. In the empire mode you choose a region and ruler and begin your conquest in hopes of establishing and empire. There a number of other rulers already occupying different regions of the map. Each ruler has a set of generals to command your troops. You start out with 3 generals and as you progress through the game and conquer more land you are allowed to add more generals and lieutenants to your military. To get more lieutenants you must hire them from the lands you conquered or search for them using your political policies. Here is where the strategy comes in, the addition of the Political Policy gives this game more depth, in previous DW titles your soldiers would just replenish after a battle, now the policy you choose will control whether you replenish your ranks or not. There are a total of 7 Political categories. Within those categories you have 50 policies you can choose from. Where do these policies come from? At the start of each battle your generals will give their input into how they feel the empire should be ruled and which political policy should implemented. Whether it’s adding more soldiers or listening to your peasants to gain a favorable reputation. These decisions will directly affect your army.

Each general/ lieutenants has a special skill. Depending on the skill it can either make your battles easier or harder. . These skills affect your troops in combat as well as the strength of your army. As your character gain levels their weapon and skills will level up as well. Depending on the territory you have conquered your units will gain certain advantages the will bolster their level asides from just stats and will also help in the acquiring of items. The items in the game are on turn based system as well. Most items can only be used once per turn, after your turn ends they become inactive and you must wait a set number of turns before you can reuse them, but you can select political policy that negates this function.

The conquering of territories has been improved on. In DW4: Empire each territory now has a stronghold system. Each map is dotted with multiple strong holds. To expand your influence you must capture these strongholds. Each stronghold gives you bonuses by replenishing your strength and allowing your army to receive reinforcements. The bonuses continue even after the battle. Once you conquered a territory the skill of the peasants will help your character as he gains a level. For example if you capture a territory with a blacksmith your characters weapons will improve. DW4: Empires also beefed up the importance of alliance while conquering territories. Alliances are must because if you choose to fight alone you will probably loose. You must inspect each territory to see if conquering it is a wise decision. What kind of force does your neighboring ruler have? How many angles can you attack from or be attacked? All this you must consider now.

There is a multiplayer component to the game a.k.a VS Mode. In VS Mode you and friend have your choice of endurance, melee, vanquish, or pilfer option then you move on to the character select screen. There are 42 characters to choose from. Each with their own set of moves. The game modes basically boil down to out scoring your opponent, the differences between each mode is minuet. Moving past the multiplayer you come to the archive mode, where you can view weapons/characters and artwork. The final mode is the edit mode where you can create your own character and customize his look, voice, and skill. DW4 has improved the character edit by adding more options in your player model, movements etc. I like this option for in all honesty Lu Bu, as kick butt as he is, has no chance of standing up to my guy.

The audio visuals of this game are probably the least improved part. Aside from the fact that the devs have added more moves/super moves and awesome attack combos the graphics engine is pretty much the same as seen in DW4: Xtreme Legends and Dynasty Warriors 4. The sound is on par with the previous games as well. There isn’t really any elaborate dialogue between the characters mainly one sentence question and answer. The music is pretty cool, a nice mix of guitar rock and Chinese inspired melodies keep you into the game as you fight your way to victory.

To wrap this up the new addition of the empire mode and addition of the political policy, a stronger focus on strategy and improved character edit mode and the addition of new moves and combos really gives the game a kick. Enough kick to ignore the fact that most of the game follows the same formula as the ones before it. I definitely like this game and would recommend a purchase. 30 dollar price tag is more than a bargain for this game.

Score : 8.4/10

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