Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce Review - May 22nd 2009

Over the last few years nothing much actually changed in the world of Dynasty Warriors. The same old formula has been used over and over again without so much as a tweak and to be honest why should it be changed? Koei sell Dynasty Warrior games by the bucket load in Japan and in not so large numbers in the West but still to a decent degree.

This is why Strikeforce is actually quite interesting, as the game has in fact changed the concept of a Dynasty Warriors game to a level that has not been seen before now. Whether this is a good change remains to be seen, but it is nonetheless great to see Koei changing the gameplay to bring it up to date.

The story of Dynasty Warriors has and will never change. It is the story of three warring kingdoms in China around 220 A.D and their battle with each other to control the country. Once again you have the offer to play as a hero from the time in one of the three kingdoms: Wei, Wu and Shu. You then take to historic battlefields to massacre thousands of people in the space of an hour to an hour and a half in the battlefield, in a mindless button mashing frenzy.

It's a very full game for a handheld.

All of this is the same in Strikeforce, so you may wonder how this one is any different to the previous 6 main-line titles and the numerous spin-off titles in the series. Well, for the first time there is actually variety in terms of what you do in battle. Upon choosing the officer that you wish to use you are then placed in a city that allows you to upgrade your character and pick up items that might be useful to you in the coming battles. Long term fans will notice that this is something different already. Not only can you upgrade your character but the town interestingly follows you around the map as you travel to other battlefields. It can also be upgraded as well, giving you better items and improved training options. Also to be noted is that I said 'battles' not just one per region, but now there are side missions to do as well as the main mission of the region like The Yellow Turban Uprising.

These side missions don't offer the diversity that perhaps I would have liked to have seen in the game, but they do offer something of a change to the way in which the game plays. They follow the basic plan of Dynasty Warriors formula with waves and waves of men to kill, but tend to have a goal that is to kill a particular soldier or to collect an object or to destroy an item. All this does offer something of a new taste to the formula, though there is so much more that it could have been with the side missions. Though the side missions give your character extra exp and gold that you would not normally have, they have no effect on the main battle. For example, if you saved a village from some bandits then they pledged soldiers to your army increasing its strength, or if you had a mission to sabotage the main gate to a fortress that your main mission is to assault, it would make your job easier. With all of that said it is still nice to see the developers trying to add something new to the game.

The battlefields have really been improved.

Inside the game's battles things have changed for the better. The characters that you play as now have new customised weapons. Basically you have your normal primary weapon and then you have a new secondary weapon that can be any type you choose. Added to this, each character has the ability to add special enhancements called Chi skills. There are four of these skills to add, one for each limb. The Chi skills offer different powers from double and even triple jumping to dashing, all giving your character a small advantage on the battlefield. In addition to the Chi skills, weapons can have orbs attached to them which allow increased attack power or defence. Each weapon can only hold one of these orbs, however. Upon the battlefield there have been some changes too, albeit not as large as in the pre-battle screens.

The ground on which you fight is now multi tiered to a greater degree than that seen in Dynasty Warriors 6, there are platformed levels to which you can jump, as well as the ladders seen in previous games. Another change is the fact that the Musou attack bar is missing, it has been replaced with a new Rage bar that once filled allows you to transform into a new rage form which increases your potency on the field, allowing you to then access the Musou attacks. Possibly the biggest change of all is the AI. Now even the most basic of soldiers offers a challenge to fight - instead of standing around in big groups waiting for you to slaughter them they will move around and try to flank you as you engage other soldiers on the field. Also enemy officers don't come at you one at a time but instead it can be three or four at once along with their men and normally turrets that will take pot-shots at you. All of this makes things quite a challenge if you're by yourself.

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