'Dynasty Warriors 8'
Sony PlayStation 3 (Xbox 360)
ESRB rating: Teen
Review rating: 3.5 stars
"Dynasty Warriors 2" was a fun game on the original PlayStation, but I lost interest when very little changed over the course of several sequels. It took nearly fifteen years for the developers to finally offer a game with enough enhancements to resemble a traditional sequel, but now I can honestly recommend "Dynasty Warriors 8."
Set in the well-known Chinese Three Kingdoms dynasty, the story has undergone very few changes. Players pick a character and enter massive battles with thousands of friendly and enemy troops and engage in hand-to-hand combat until their fingers get sore. More than 70 characters are available now, and each one sports more than cosmetic differences.
Instead of repeating the same attack animations with a different looking weapon, each character has a distinctive set of moves. While some characters wield traditional single-sided swords, others initiate long sweeping attacks with a rake or float across the battlefield swinging a pair of stylish wingblades. Distinctive move sets give each character added personality and offer an incentive to experiment with every one.
Also new is a wider variety of attacks, like switch counters, that let players parry and attack and storm rush, which roots enemy officers in place while players attack. My favorite is rage awakening, which powers up my character's attacks and lets me unleash the super-powerful Musou attack! In addition, a new affinity system based on Heaven, Earth, and Man makes some weapons more powerful against certain opponents.
Thankfully, there's an additional mode to story mode and free mode that adds much-needed replay value to this title. Ambition mode starts players off with a weapon shop and encourages them to not only upgrade it, but also recruit officers defeated in battle. Eventually, players can build a large base that is visited by the Emperor if the players have achieved enough fame.
"Dynasty Warriors 8" is still repetitive, but now it's actually fun!