Since 2000, the Dynasty Warriors franchise has basically been the “Beat em up” genre’s version of “Madden” (yes, Dynasty Warriors first came out in 1997, but the original game was vastly different than Dynasty Warriors 2 and beyond). It comes out on a yearly basis (or at least usually), offers different gameplay enhancements in new versions, and sometimes you get slight roster changes. Every game has basically the same maps (with tweaks here and there), and the same basic formula of non-stop crazy action. Even though the changes (usually) aren’t major, fans of the series flock to get the new versions every time they come out – it only takes a few minutes with the game to see why.
I’ll admit, I haven’t played a Dynasty Warriors game in a few years, so maybe some of the changes I talk about aren’t that big of a deal, but I think the last version I played was Dynasty Warriors 5, so the whole thing full of new stuff to me. Since Dynasty Warriors Next is a PS Vita launch title though, I’m sure there is a good bit new here no matter how well versed you are in the game. For the person that has never gotten into a Dynasty Warriors game though, let’s go over a quick history lesson.
The world of Dynasty Warriors is taken from the Chinese historical novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms (and the old RPGs of the same name). Romance of the Three Kingdoms recounts the battles that the Han Dynasty faced to unite and rule China throughout the second and third centuries, and while the book has several hundred (at least that’s how it seems to me) named characters, the story focuses on the leaders and other main characters. Like every other Dynasty Warriors game, a ton of those named characters have been thrown into the game – each with their own play style and weapon choices.
While the English voice over work might not be the best (okay, I wanted to kick a few of the voice workers because of how bad the acting was), you don’t play a Dynasty Warriors game for the voices. The story (as you would expect) is pretty much the same as it always has been, and it still holds up through time. The struggles of three leaders – each with their own styles of rule – will leave you wanting to see the next cut scene (which are absolutely brilliant on the Vita’s screen) if you’ve never experienced the story before. The hardest part is probably keeping the names straight, especially when you have Cao Cao, Cao Pi, and Cao Ren in your army and are trying to remember who is who, but even that doesn’t get too bad.
The base gameplay is pretty straightforward – you traverse the battlefield slaying anything and everything in your way. Capture different bases to get different benefits for your army – from powered up weapons, to long range arrow bombardments, to tigers. Yes, tigers are a part of the game (as well as other beasts like pandas), and they are pretty damn brutal. Along the way you will run into enemy officers who drop items when they are defeated, but offer a bigger challenge while they’re up.
Along with officers and troops, you’ll run into a few different mini-games (called ambushes) that take advantage of the PS Vita’s features quite nicely, and don’t feel at all like they’re just there to show off what the hardware can do (unlike with some other launch games). One has you slash the touch screen knocking down projectiles; another makes you move the Vita around to lock on to enemies and attack them before they get to you; still another has you rapidly tap bad guys charging at you until they drop – but these little ambush games aren’t the only mini games that there are to find! There’s “Steeplechase”, which has you ride a horse to the end of a course in as little time as possible, “Calligraphy” which utilizes the rear touch pad and front touch pad to cast spells, and a few others even besides these.
One of the most frustrating parts of the whole game – and mainly because of my own inability to get the timing right without loads of practice first – is the duel system. Through this, you can fight the ghost data of another player, or certain bosses – the problem is that if you’re not playing a character you’ve sufficiently geared up, you can die very quickly. There were a few times in the campaign that I wanted to throw my Vita (like it was a normal controller) because I was getting two-shotted by a boss. Once you get the mechanics down though (or are at least geared up to take punishment), the duels can be a fun little distraction.
I wish there was some kind of “near” integration – maybe trade some items or weapons you no longer need, but that’s just because I’m used to it in other games right now; the lack of it is actually noticeable. However with that and the duel system being my only real complaints, this is by far one of the best launch games for the PS Vita. It is still a game that mainly fans are going to pick up though, which is a shame – I really hope that being a launch game on a new piece of hardware will encourage people who have never touched a Dynasty Warriors game before to give this one a go – they won’t be disappointed.
The Bottom Line: Dynasty Warriors Next is on my list as one of the top four launch games for the PS Vita – something I feel no owner should be without; the fast and furious action is great for on the go gaming, or when you need a little de-stresser.
- The story still holds up even with the basis of it being written in the 14th century
- The diversity of the characters is still phenomenal
- All of the Vita specific features just feel “right”, and not thrown in for padding
- A game for the fans, neonates might have a hard time getting into it
- The duel system can be irritating at times
- Two words – Lu Bu
You can get Dynasty Warriors Next for the PS Vita (only system it’s on right now, so it’s what it was reviewed on) from Amazon for $39.99