Monday, November 21, 2011

Legend Mode and Other Xtreme Legends Issues

I should preface this post with the fact that I really like Dynasty Warriors 7 Xtreme Legends as it is, essentially, more Dynasty Warriors 7 which is as much of a good thing as it can be.  I realize upon thinking it out that I'm more or less going to tear into everything that is 7XL and throw down all the tatters here as examples of my problems with the game, which will leave a negative opinion hanging over it all.  So I really want it known that, despite the bitching I'm about to do, I enjoy the game and don't regret my purchase of it.  This is really vital to spend a little bit of time talking on, as you might guess from the amount of time I spent talking on it.

With that out of the way, I have to start with Legend Mode which is basically the entire draw of the game.  The new characters are good, the new weapons are fantastic, the remix option assuredly breathes a whole new realm of life into the base game and Challenge mode....exists, but Legend Mode is where the bulk of the effort went and it shows.  Basically, in Legend Mode, you pick your Ruler and your Adjutant (both of which don't matter much at all, except you play as the ruler which can be changed freely to no negative impact) and are given a 'desolate' city to reinvigorate by going out and killing men by the thousands in the missions tailor-made (or not, I'll explain in a bit) for the mode.  I'm not even going to pretend that this is deep in any fashion and it's clearly another attempt at a hub city ala Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce, yet somehow more shallow.

Once you unlock a utility (blacksmith, weapon dealer, strategist, etc.) they remain forever and you can use their services to your hearts content.  The Weapon Dealer will, unsurprisingly, sell you weapons (of which there are six new categories I believe), the Blacksmith functions exactly like it does in the base game; you give it a weapon and money and he'll slowly unlock the seal on your weapon.  I have no use for this as I loaded my Dynasty Warriors 7 save into the game which has the added benefit of carrying over everything I unlocked like seals, which was, of course, everything since I platinum'd the game.  The Merchant will scour one of the handful of provinces of the land and come back with treasure and/or weapons according to some random formula that only it knows and the Strategist will sell you manuals to increase your stats.  Which is very, very useful for obvious reasons.

There is, by that merit, absolutely nothing to do in the city as it serves as only a hub from which you upgrade your character, get more money/weapons and go into missions.  There's a token effort of development, in that the city can have a 'mood' (which is either Desolate, Orderly, Carefree or Friendly) which has some sort of effect on the city (carefree being the most useful as all prices are halved because nobody cares, get it) and it changes between missions.  Well, mostly between Orderly and Carefree, with Friendly only coming up after your Adjutant has been your Adjutant for some length of time that I couldn't discern.  When it reaches friendly, you talk to them, get an item (manual of some stat booster) and then go about your way.  Or, if you're me, you immediately replace them, as getting them to friendly gives you their 'devotion line' which gives you access to their Legend Mode voice gallery.  There's a trophy for hearing everyone's devotion lines, of course.  Well, a few.  One for women, one for men, and then one for everyone, if I'm not mistaken.

Legend Mode is a disappointment in a very minor way as I was having flashbacks to Dynasty Warriors 4's take on roughly the same concept, in that every character had one battle tailor-made for them and their exploits, whereas that was sort of the case here, but not for every character and some of the missions were just....ridiculous.  The manual claims that if you play the stage as the Recommended Warrior, you'll get more scenes and such, but from my experience, you get the same amount of scenes no matter who you are, unfortunately.  I might be wrong, or it might be a consequence of seeing the 'ending' of the game (brought about when the Emperor comes to stay in your town for being so awesome or something) which is just the credits.  Or it might be a clever ruse to get you to play as characters you might not have played in the base game, or rather just developing some of the underdeveloped characters (ones that didn't feature heavily into their respective story) which is rather welcome.

Unfortunately, I kind of just roll my eyes when one stage is playing as Xiao Qiao (wife of Zhou Yu, historically wasn't a warrior at all, of course) during Chi Bi (or Red Cliffs as you might know it by) escorting Zhuge Liang to the altar where he shifts the direction of the winds and then protecting him as he's doing it.  That sort of level is a step above inane which is beyond frustrating, but there are levels that really make up for it.  Whether it's because it's more 'accurate' than the norm or what, the Battle of Jieting with Yue Ying as a recommended character is rather nice as it details the infamous battle where Zhuge Liang's student, Ma Su made such a big blunder that he was executed in shame for it.

Not to get off on a history tangent, but, basically during the Northern Campaigns of Zhuge Liang towards the latter half of the war, Shu was in a constant state of trying to take the northwest area of China from Wei and failing miserably at it.  They managed to get the really important location of Jieting which Zhuge Liang entrusted the defense of to his student, Ma Su.  Ma Su had the bright idea to make camp atop the mountain (likely for the best vantage point possible) despite being told it was an incredibly bad idea by his underlings, as it left them unable to properly defend their water sources.  This is, of course, always reason enough to not do something, but Ma Su didn't listen and, sure enough, Wei cut off their water supply to force them off.  It was a decisive victory for Wei and Shu lost many, many troops in it, which was the direct reason for Ma Su's execution.  Of course, there are conflicting reports saying that he might've been killed while imprisoned awaiting execution, he might've simply escaped, or perhaps was just held indefinitely, but whatever the case, it was the last thing of note that Ma Su did.

Right, anyway, a really positive addition to the Legend Mode roster of stages (which play out from left to right in rising Star Rankings, starting at one, ending in 10) is the inclusion of some Classic Dynasty Warriors stages recreated with DW7 assets.  These stages all have whatever modes they offered in the game they came from (Meaning some battles like The Battle/Siege of Fan Castle have three different versions) and are enough of a blend of past and present to offer nostalgia with out sacrificing much, if anything, in enjoyment.  There's not quite enough of them, but there's more as DLC for DW7 (specifically, they won't work with basic DW7XL as they require Conquest mode to be played) that it was surely done that way on purpose; if you want that nostalgia you gotta pay for it.

Also of interest is the addition of personal Titles that every character earns (up to 10, I believe) by performing certain tasks under certain difficulty restrictions.  These range from "Simple" to "Goddamn Nigh-Impossible" depending on whether or not other Titles offer bonuses appropriate to assist with getting the higher titles.  For instance, Lu Bu's top title is earned by defeating 1000 foes on a Ten Star ranked level on Nightmare difficulty (which is new to XL, is higher than Chaos which is higher than Hard) without using a musou attack and while keeping his health above 70% full.  On its own, this is patently impossible, let's not mince words on that.  Everything in Nightmare, even with the max defense possible, hits like a goddamn truck and there's not one damn thing you can do about it.  However, the bonus of one of Lu Bu's other Titles is that attacks made with a speed weapon transfer health from the target to the player.  This, coupled with the strongest Speed weapon I have (Base attack of 56 whereas the best Halberd I have so far has a base attack of 83) and good seal distribution makes it possible, though difficult.  Especially with the no musou restriction as musou attacks are really your lifeblood in Nightmare mode.

Once you really see all that Legend Mode has to offer you do, unfortunately, get a sense of "That's it?", which is disappointing, however there is still every single level of Conquest mode available to you in a technical sense as well.  But the good missions make up for it, and it's a fun little toy to play around with on the set that is Dynasty Warriors 7, but that's all it really is is a new toy; an addition.  Collecting all the new weapons put in the game (Some by beating stages on Chaos and under certain circumstances like "Swiftly complete the objective" or "Beat X, Y, and Z Officers personally", some by, likely doing the same or similar on Nightmare mode.) is a fun distraction and basically the only one you have full control over.  I'm sure I could play a game of "This is how I would make it better", but I won't bother.  Xtreme Legends is almost always the one I find little reason to play (excluding Samurai Warriors 2 Xtreme Legends as basically everything Samurai Warriors 2 was fantastic), whereas Empires is always the game that gets you to play more and more.  And there likely will be a Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires and, provided I have the opportunity, I will buy the hell out of that, too.

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