Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dynasty Warriors 8 is Damn Good

After my foray into Beyond: Two Souls that ended with me liking it, but not necessarily ready to jump back into it for the trophies, I turned to my backlog, specifically games from this year, and decided that I should probably play one of them.  Preferably one that I hadn't played yet.  There's an embarrassingly high amount of games that could be included in this, but in the end I decided on going to my comfort zone because I need comfort these days.  So I grabbed Dynasty Warriors 8 which I purchased way back when it came out in July, unwrapped it (yes, it was still in plastic, yes that kind of made me a little ill) and tossed it into my PS3 with the intent on cutting swaths through Feudal China.  Something I've done countless times before and will do countless times yet.

I got that with Dynasty Warriors 8.  I got that in spades.  Originally, you'll remember that I really liked Dynasty Warriors 7 because it changed up the formula immensely, bringing more and more cinematic bits into it and really incorporating them in a worthwhile way, while also completely overhauling the weapon system with weapon switching and such.  I eventually concluded, though perhaps not in a post, that Dynasty Warriors 7 is the best Dynasty Warriors since 3 which is the absolute best through nostalgia-rimmed glasses at least (since I haven't played it in a long time).  8 was shaping up to be 7, but with more stuff, which by all metrics should have put it at 'better' than 7 itself.

I'm not so sure I would put it on that level, however.  Initially, I definitely would not have, but the more I play it, the more I start appreciating it and the effort that went into it, while also slowly realizing awesome things about it.  Some things are a straight step backwards - the game is overall less cinematic and less story-focused if for the simple fact that the little text-dumps in-between missions are not narrated for the first time since...ever and the text is rather small to boot, and you can no longer equip new weapons mid-battle thanks to the Rock/Paper/Scissors mechanic they've almost arbitrarily added to weapons now - but everything else is either maintained or improved upon.  Including one thing that's like a fucking revelation after playing the games for as long as I have been.

You see, in previous iterations, there have always been some characters that simply have the same exact moveset since they share a tenuous weapon choice.  So Cao Cao would play almost exactly like Sun Jian who would play almost exactly like Liu Bei because they all wielded a Longsword and while there was some personalization, it wasn't a -lot-.  It's been in the games with varying degrees with Dynasty Warriors 6 being the worst of it where there were honestly maybe a dozen movesets spread across the 50-some characters in the roster.  In Dynasty Warriors 7, they tried to mitigate the clone issue by assigning "EX" attacks, which were attacks unique to that character with their preferred weapon.  So even though Liu Shan, Sima Shi and Yuan Shao all fought with a Rapier, they had different EX attacks assigned to a different charge, not to mention the different musou attacks.  Dynasty Warriors 8 has a more...elegant solution that is almost mind-blowing in the realization that they've finally done it.

There are no clones.  Everyone has their own weapon type which in turn has its own moveset with nary an overlap between them.  Liu Shan wields a Rapier where Sima Shi wields a "Lightning Sword" where Yuan Shao wields an "Extension Blade" which are all -basically- rapiers, but entirely different weapons in their own right with different moves and the whole spread.  Cao Cao wields a General's Swod where Sun Jian wields a Nine-Rings Blade where Sun Quan wields a Sword (seriously, just basic sword) where Sima Zhao wields a Striking Sword and they're all -wildly- different as you might expect from my previous mentions.  It's honestly a little surreal, having a scenario in which everyone has their own weapon, but it's been something that has needed to happen for a while and it's almost astounding that they finally managed it.  It's strangely liberating even.

All in all, Dynasty Warriors 8 attempts to be a complete refinement of 7 and in a lot of ways, it truly is - maps are nice, large and details, character models look nice (except in cutscenes where they're very...plastic-y), there's like seven weapons of each type and that whole non-clone thing is wonderful.  While it's a step back in a couple important areas, it's not -that- bad, even if it's enough to allow me to continue lofting Dynasty Warriors 7 up high for naught but the best of accolades.  It's enough to get me hyped up for Dynasty Warriors 8:  Xtreme Legends...which probably won't get a physical release over here.  More than a little depressing seeing as I can't reliably download a single goddamn gig these days thanks to what I'm assuming is Playstation 4 traffic. has Zhu Ran, so I might just have to find a way.

when I realized that there were no cloned movesets, I literally had no goddamn clue what to do, it was that shocking

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