Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's History Nerd Rage Time

Pictured:  Exactly why History Nerdage must be checked at the door.
Now, I know you guys are probably sick of me bringing up DW7:  Xtreme Legends, but, well, I'm gonna so if you're interested, feel free to keep reading.  There's a history lesson creeping about in the paragraphs to follow after all, so it's not completely rehashing earlier posts about the game (again).  Now, Dynasty Warriors has never claimed to be completely historical or even mostly so, indeed it's based more on the Novel written in the 14th Century say it takes liberties is being quite generous, we'll say.  So taking liberties on something that also takes plentiful amounts of liberties itself leaves very tenuous ties to the reality of it all, and this is just something that's understood.  Which is why it's sort of a fool's errand to take up the history nerd torch against a game that features various female warriors using weapons that didn't exist yet, someone walking around with a giant fucking ARM CANNON and phantom soldiers and such, but there are some kinds of errors that are needlessly glaring because not only do they conflict with history, but with the novel itself, and they need to be called on it.

Now, my issue deals with KOEI's stable of Jin characters which is precarious to begin with because of the simple fact that each and every member of the "Jin" stable (minus Wang Yuanji, hilariously) was dead before the actual Jin dynasty was formed by Sima Zhao's son, Sima Yan in the year 265 AD (which is also the year Sima Zhao died, leaving him as the closest person to make it, but not quite).  This is fairly easily hand-waved away by acknowledging that the majority of them at least laid the foundations on which Jin was built, minus Xiahou Ba who actually defected to Shu pretty much right after Sima Yi took power from Cao Shuang which is, essentially, where you'd place the 'start' of the start of Jin.  So in all honesty, there's no real reason for him to be in Jin besides the fact that they didn't want six characters in Jin, wanted Xiahou Ba, and didn't want Shu to have -even more- dudes than Wei/Wu to at least keep a semblance of balance.  (Nevermind that they're only equal in numbers because XL added three Wei officers.)

However, my issue goes a little beyond mere stable choices and into the mechanics of the game itself; namely the Title System that was implemented in this game.  Again, this is a fairly silly thing to think about because right off, you can get Zhang Jiao, leader of the Yellow Turban Rebellion which challenged the authority of the Han and the Emperor directly, to rise through the titled ranks (all of them being directly Empirical titles) to obtain his last three titles from the Emperor himself.  I realize this and realized it when I did it, but even after all this, I cannot forgive what I'm really seeing as an oversight here with the titles.  I believe I've mentioned it before, but there's one title that everyone* seems to get (I believe it's alled Strike General, but do not quote me on this It's called Campaign General) that reads, basically, 'Absorb health from attacks made with Speed Weapons' which is essential for Nightmare level completions. 

*You'll see why the asterisk is there in a bit.

Having to throw on the Sword for a mission or two is fine because even if dudes don't use Speed weapons primarily, everyone can use the Sword moveset, and the Ultimate Tier sword has 77 Base Attack, five seal slots and a level 6 Death Element which causes more damage on charge strikes (and possibly instant death on fodder and the like) I think.  Comboed properly, the Ultimate Sword is completely well enough as a death-dealer, as the moveset for it is pretty prime if nothing special.  With the Conqueror's Halberd (100 Base Attack, Level 6 Death Element, Five Seal Slots filled with Walking Speed Up (optional, switch out at your leisure), Synergy (Two Death Element Weapons = Happy times), Combat Resistance, Projectile Resistance and Officer Assassin (Fairly optional, but handy)) equipped in your secondary slot, a similar seal distribution to the Halberd on the Sword means you are kind of a wrecking machine built for murder on a grand scale.  Again, the moves themselves aren't necessarily special, but they're fairly primed towards charge attacks, which means the Death Element (as well as...well, most elements) is a good fit for it.

I'm getting a bit off-base here, though.  The reason I brought up the Campaign General title is because I had fallen into a pretty nice run-about things knowing that everyone got it as their fourth or fifth title (out of eight) since that meant people wielding speed weapons naturally would get easier to use and people not wielding speed weapons would have to switch to Sword at some point, if not right then, but definitely before that nightmare mission for their last title.  It was a pretty easy existence, and then the game threw a big ol' monkey wrench into everything when I tried this with the Jin cast.  I quickly learned that they do not gain Campaign General as a title which, on first read would suggest something awful.  But what they get in place of Campaign General is where my ire lies in all of this, and where all this build has gone to.

The title every Jin officer gets, rather than Campaign General, is "General Who Conquers Shu", a title that acts as the Campaign General title, yet only with that characters' default weapon.  Now -here- is where the real history lesson comes in, as I sort of set the scene here.  I know I've said several times that I want to go over the entire era with you guys and I will sometime, but I'm sure you can understand how it's a little daunting to figure out how to explain a 70 year war in separate posts in just the right, most entertaining and informative way.  But we're going to skip straight to the end of the scenario when the northern half of China is owned by Cao Wei (commonly known as just Wei), the bottom west portion by Shu Han (commonly known as just Shu) and the bottom east portion by Eastern Wu (commonly known as just Wu, also known as Sun Wu).  This is the literal three kingdoms of the era, even if all three of them were more or less falling into political messes and a time where war was just a part of the day instead of a tool or something of the sort.

In 263, Wei led the final strike against the floundering Shu which would prove to be the last straw.  Zhong Hui and Deng Ai played very large parts in the battle that basically could be said to be the lynchpins of the victory, especially Deng Ai, as it was his tactics that more or less lead to an easy victory via Shu's complete surrender.  There is, of course, plenty more detail that I can and will get into at a later date, but for the purposes of this discussion, it's only relevant to mention the fact that Zhong Hui and Deng Ai were specifically in the battle that 'conquered' Shu.  Because if you remember the start of the last paragraph, I specifically said that -every- officer in the Jin cast (all nine of them) get "General Who Conquers Shu", when I named the battle and only two of them were, er, directly involved.  Sima Zhao could be argued to have it as well since he was the ruler at the time, as could Wang Yuanji because she was married to Zhao.  So what about the other five people?

Sima Yi died in 251 after, again, stealing power over Wei from the Cao family which is more or less his only connection to Jin, since family ties, while extremely important, do not allegiance make.  Sima Shi took over for Sima Yi and later died in 255 of illness exaggerated by his reluctance to stay out of battles.  A month following putting down a Cao Wei rebellion, his illness took final hold and killed him, leaving the role of ruler in Zhao's hands.  So there's two people who had absolutely nothing to do with conquering Shu.  Zhuge Dan rose up in rebellion against Wei and received reinforcements from Wu at Shouchun where Sima Zhao led troops against him, eventually broke the siege that Zhuge Dan and his forces forced and Zhuge Dan was killed while fleeing.  Xiahou Ba defected right after Sima Yi staged a coup against Cao Shuang (as stated above) and died at some point between 255-259; it's not documented how or when.  So two more people who were not present in the battle and in fact would not have helped with the battle had they been there.  And as for Guo Huai, I'm fairly certain he died in battle against Shu or of illness sometime before Xiahou Ba's death, which means, again, no reason for him to have said title.

I understand that this is pedantic at best, but of nine people in a stable, a clear-cut majority of them have no business having a title that they get by any stretch of the imagination.  Like, there's really no room for argument here aside from saying, "At some point they all fought against Shu", but that distinction dies out quickly when you point out that so did everyone else not in Shu and yet they don't get that title.  It's just a mind-bendingly dumb prospect; having four entire casts of characters that gain one single title without fail (from what I can tell) and then one single cast of nine people getting an entirely different title that a simple majority of them don't have any claim to.  It's also frustrating from a gameplay standpoint as some of these characters have weapons that are entirely unsuited for the heavy combat that Nightmare levels require; Sima Shi specifically, who wields a little pissant Rapier.  It's almost insulting that I couldn't earn Lu Bu's final title with his Halberd (Because I would've gotten chewed up for not gaining health back with every attack) but I have to chip away at everybody with a little fucking toothpick as Shi to accomplish the same goal.

And before you say, "Maybe it's a balance reason", let me assure you quite pointedly that it is not.  Pictured above is Deng Ai who is one of the rightful owners of the title "General Who Conquers Shu".  Not pictured is his giant fuck-off Drill weapon that, in its Ultimate form, has a quite high base attack (I -think- 90something where the max is 100), five seal slots (put together as explained earlier for maximum efficiency) and the Wind Element (at level 6 I think) which ensures that charge attacks will break a foe's guard.  Coupled with the fact that he drains health on every strike of that gigantic drill, he is quite literally an engine of destruction on those grounds alone, not even bringing up his disgustingly powerful second musou in which all he does is grab his foe in a dropping armbar which ends with him snapping their arm.  I am not lying when I say Deng Ai is literally overpowered and broken as shit.  Not that that's a bad thing, but it serves as the perfect example for what I was getting at re: balance.

Again, I realize the hilarious futility in getting angry at historical fallacies in the Dynasty Warriors games based on what I've told you they're cribbing from and stretching out, but there is absolutely no reason for this.  Seeing as it's something that I actually got really worked up about, I figured it would be a good thing to write about, since it meant that I could inject at least a little bit of history into the blog which you all know I love doing.  So I hope it was informative and entertaining, even though this is more or less a glorified rant about a single thing wrong with Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends which I am still playing and still enjoying.  If nothing else, I feel better.

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