|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC|
|Dev: Omega Force|
|Pub: Koei Tecmo|
|Release: February 13, 2018|
|Players: 1 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Alcohol Reference, Mild Language, Violence|
by Jenni Lada
The very first Dynasty Warriors game came out all the way back in 1997. It was Omega Force’s very first game. Year after year, the company has refined the formula. It has attached new properties to it. It is practically a factory process, with multiple Warriors games churned out year after year. Now that this series turns 21, Dynasty Warriors 9 is doing something new. It is abandoning defined missions, ones you can play alone or with friends, and setting off in a brave new open world all alone. Anyone who spends any significant amount of time with it will soon realize this design direction is a terrible, horrible mistake.
While Dynasty Warriors’ stories usually have some level of gravitas and drama, due to them being retellings of Chinese history, Dynasty Warriors 9 ruins that with a terrible script and horrendous voice acting. Allies spit out the same, generic “good job, hero” phrase at least two times each battle. Zhang Jiao, the first boss, sounds like a malevolent Kermit the Frog. Remember the original voice acting in the Pokemon and Sailor Moon cartoons? Dynasty Warriors 9 is on par with that. Which is disappointing, because what I have heard of both the Japanese and Chinese voice acting is rather good.
Once you have a character set and begin going through the campaign, seeing their side of events, you will have an opportunity to level them as you would in an RPG. As you complete missions and fight enemies, you earn experience. That gives you points to pump into their stats to make them stronger. Their attacks never change, so you always two standard sorts of attacks and a special. Holding down a trigger button and one of the attack buttons can send enemies skyward or possibly fell them, allowing you to mash the standard attack button for a combo. Button prompts often come up, suggesting tapping triangle to perform a counter or finishing move. People have a lot of options. Still, I had no problem beating most any Dynasty Warriors 9 fight mashing square on the DualShock 4 until the foe’s health was low enough to make the triangle finishing move prompt appear, only occasionally using a Musou special when attacking a major antagonist.
Enemies in Dynasty Warriors 9 are largely combo-fodder, with health bars that are constantly red and offer no indicator as to how much life they have left. Seriously, you will see a full red bar, chip away and see a slightly less red bar, then maybe eventually black. (Would it have killed Omega Force to use multiple colors, so you have a better indicator of how much longer each fight might last?) Enemies with no names or titles above their heads are no threat. They mill around like human-shaped bits of scenery. Characters with some sort of “captain” title floating above their heads might attempt to attack every few minutes, but will not often land an actual hit. Even generic enemies with actual names are of little or no note, beyond being the ones you should absolutely target in order to cause all of their minions to flee. Only the bosses pose any real threat, and this can be lessened by participating in busywork quests.
Ah, the busywork. Do you know why most open-world games work? It is because there are things actually worth seeing and doing in their worlds. Dynasty Warriors 9 lacks this critical detail. Most cities and castle towns follow specific templates, with their layouts remaining largely the same and only their names change. Barren expanses litter the landscape, with occasional gathering points to run over to get one item each time. It is rare to see random enemies in these vast expanses, which means there is absolutely nothing to do beyond running from point A to point B. Should you come across a base or village, there is no reason to dally there, as no items or lore lurk within.
If you can avoid it, you should avoid traveling any time you can in Dynasty Warriors 9. Most missions in the list let you press square on the DualShock 4 to automatically teleport to them, and you should take this option. Actually moving from one place to another is not pleasant. The game is fraught with frame rate drops, which are unpleasant and very noticeable. It often dipped to around 15fps on my standard PlayStation 4, and I swear it seemed maybe hit 30fps at its best. This means you are trudging through a choppy world where colors seem lifeless and washed out. You have a near-invincible horse with regenerating health that can leap to the top of small guard towers and even two-story houses. However, sometimes if you call, it you will not actually “see” the horse itself and will instead just see dust clouds and sound effects “indicating” that it is there. When you mount the horse and choose to auto-run to the quest or location you have designated, the game will take the long way around most of the time. The times when it is not suggesting the scenic route, it might just be sending you up an unscalable mountain.