[Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher for the contents of this article]
If you’re a fan of historically accurate tales interwoven with utterly absurd gameplay, then chances are pretty good that you’re already familiar with the Dynasty Warriors series, famous for telling the Romance of the Three Kingdoms war epic with over-the-top button-mashy battles that make the fight scenes in a Matrix film look tame by comparison. An updated version of the eighth numbered game in the series has finally arrived for the PlayStation 4 and Vita, but does the long-windedly titled Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition live up to the series’ pedigree?
The short answer to the above question is, “yarp.” The only major problem with DW8XLCE is figuring out who its target audience is, since most of the content here is a retread. Well, that, and the continued lack of a checkpoint system to help make those longer levels less frustrating when you get overpowered late in the game.
While the original Dynasty Warriors 8 launched for the PlayStation 3 last year, the Xtreme Legends update bolstered the game’s already extensive amount of content, adding in new story missions, a new mode and five new playable characters. Series antagonist, Lu Bu, also gets his own campaign, proving that it is sometimes good to be evil. In short, the Complete Edition simply slaps a coat of shiny new paint on a package that contains all of that content rolled into one, with the added bonus of a Twitch streaming feature that lets viewers shower you with goodies or boulders depending on their mood.
So if you’ve already enjoyed Dynasty Warriors 8 and Xtreme Legends on the PS3, are you willing to double dip to experience the game once again on a new platform? The answer to that particular quandary is entirely up to you. If you’ve missed out on the series for a few years or are thinking of just now diving in, however, then this latest version in the niche series might be right up your ally. I, for one, had a lot of fun with the game, even if it still feels like Dynasty Warriors is idling and in need of a thorough reboot at some point. For the time being, at least, mowing down literally thousands of enemies in a flurry of swords, spears, clubs and the like is just as much fun as it has always been.
If you’re new to the series, then get ready to gorge on some of the most insane combat to ever grace a game console. The history of warring Chinese kingdoms is presented in a surprisingly accurate manner in the Dynasty Warriors series, but the gameplay itself is so far removed from reality it ain’t even funny. This being a video game and not a documentary, however, that makes for some very good news.
Over the years, the Dynasty Warriors series hasn’t really changed much concerning its combat formula. Instead, Tecmo Koei simply crams more and more content into the same package, resulting in a current roster of 82 warriors to control, dozens upon dozens of weapons to try out, a large number of story and “what if” missions to plow through and some additional modes like the score attack Challenge Mode, Free Battle, and Ambition Mode, where you take part in three types of battles in order to raise your fame and fortune in order to earn a visit from Emperor Xian.
Despite all of that, though, your basic goal in the game is to charge onto battlefield after battlefield and lay waste to everything that stands in your way. For this reason, many consider the game to be a bit on the repetitive side and write it off as little more than a button masher. But while you can certainly bumble your way through most battles by spamming various attack buttons, the real joy of a Dynasty Warriors game is growing to actually understand the battle system, exploit your enemies’ weaknesses and take advantage of each warrior’s special abilities to create some truly cinematic confrontations. Once you get the hang of the various options at your disposal, combat within DW8XLCE becomes a delight, full of explosive action, insane combos and special moves that light up the landscape with colorful explosions.
As stated above, Dynasty Warriors is a series that has always appealed to a very specific group of gamers while winning over the occasional convert with each new iteration. DW8XLCE doesn’t rock the boat in that regard. If you’re already a fan of the series and own a PS4 or Vita, chances are you’re already planning on getting this game. For newcomers who have had their interest piqued, then this serves as a perfect starting point. As its name implies, this is the most complete edition of the game to ever pop up on any platform, and it also happens to be a shining example of what the series does best. I’d still like to see some substantial improvements and advancements to the series in general but, for the time being, Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition is a battle worth diving into.
Platforms:PS4 (reviewed), PS3
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Tecmo Koei