Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dynasty Warriors 2

+++ Exceptional Idea for a game
++ Lu Bu's most dangerous rendition
++ Quite Fun for the first 25 hours or so
++ Moderately Difficult
+ One of the earliest games to feature 15-20 onscreen enemies
+ Much better Bodyguard system than any of the other games
+ Pretty sweet Soundtrack
-- Only 4 attacks with branching charge attacks per character
-- Some characters feel exactly the same as others
- Pretty repetitive
- Only 8 stages
- Every time a named opponent is knocked over they have a chance to recover lots of their HP
- Sparse and Laughable voice acting

Music: Yellow Storm

I sit in the midst of 12 inches of Snow presently as the hugeass storm has cut a swath through Michigan as well, to this point we'd only had cold weather and 5-6 inches of snow at maximum. However, fond memories of this dear game come to warm my heart and soul. This is the first game that ever put you in a situation as "one soldier" in a ridiculously massive battlefield who might be a warrior worth a thousand or just be terrible. Unlike the other games it is very difficult to actually clear the game on normal without grinding the stats of your characters up a bit, but there are only 5 stages per character so it doesn't take quite as long as you'd imagine.

The first time I played this was right around PS2 launch at my brothers and I knew absolutely nothing about Romance of the Three Kingdoms, this game doesn't really tell you anything apart from the names and 2 seconds of backstory it gives you. Still, Lu Bu is much more imposing in this than in any other DW game. The reason for this is because allied generals actually do charge into combat right alongside you in this game but this is a rare occurrence at best in later DWs as you find yourself fighting with nothing but nameless grunts beside you and with the full attention of the officers. While Bu always did a shitload of damage in this he heals to full half the time when he's knocked over and absolutely murders every officer that comes to fight him (Sometimes 4 or 5 at once). It's really cathartic to just watch him massacre your whole side when he's got nothing with him save his 8 guards also with ridiculous stats. Lu Bu isn't as awesome to play as in the next renditions of DW since he doesn't have his ludicrously powerful Charge 2 attack which hits everything around him 5 times in rapid succession, but he sure is fun to fight.

The bodyguard system in this game is also pretty much the best out of any DW, as your character gains rank he gets better bodyguards up to 8, who eventually are as strong as individual enemy officers and have their own musou attacks to assist you. This means no matter where you go even if you're surrounded by 50 dudes you can still do quite well since your guards will assist handily. I believe they're healed when you pick up a recovery item but they are next to invincible by the time you're up to "Grand General." (You're much more likely to die than they are at that point). The next games let you customize your guards much moreso but the most you get is just 4.

I did get this to run on my old PS2 that cuts discs (one of the very first models released) and played with Xiahou Dun through one campaign, each level took quite a bit longer than a now typical DW stage but you do get a huge time limit and it is still remarkably fun even in its most basic form for about 4-5 hours. Eventually it would get tedious but this is one game I don't think I'll ever get completely tired of. For the other games it is pretty reliant on playing as Lu Bu which is about as fun as it gets but in this most of the characters are pretty fun to play for a while. If you somehow miraculously have a system that can run Blue Discs I'd recommend getting this for 2-3 bucks and giving it a whirl.

This game could have been just a start to something absolutely incredible and easily could have kickstarted an awesome genre of gaming but unfortunately Koei themselves have done very little with the gameplay from game to game (with one exception, which isn't in the DW Series) and have merely added a lot of characters, worse music, much better voice acting, more storyline, and much more same-y stages. I doubt the innovation is going to come from Koei at this point but mayhap someone else would like to make a "Warrior worth a thousand" game with an indepth combat system, RPG elements, difficult and unique boss fights, along with hundreds of enemies and dozens of playable characters. Come on, it can't be that hard... Kingdom Under Fire 2 is coming out sometime in the next decade and should be pretty solid, though that game is mostly about army control it still feels similar to this (just one of the characters can massacre enemies single handedly en masse though).

Final Score: 8/10

Bonus Music: Wu Zhang Plains Wei Side

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