Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dynasty Warriors 3

++ Doubles the number of characters
++ Introduces unique weapons
++ Quadruples the number of stages
++ Moderately Difficult
++ Red Hare
++ Adds fairly entertaining co-op
++ Lu Bu is awesome to play as
+ Increases base attacks from 4 to 6
+ Actually has a semblance of a storyline
+ Good Inventory system
-- Most Level 1 charge attacks are craptastic grabs
- Voice acting is fairly hit or miss
- Crossbowmen do a ridiculous amount of damage
- Very repetitive
- All non faction affiliated characters still don't have story missions
- Soundtrack not as good as DW2's
- Characters are wildly imbalanced

This game is basically the next logical step in progressively designing the DW series, so I can't hate on it all that much. Each of the 30 or so Wei/Wu/Shu characters have their own unique stage progression with 9-15 stages (rulers get more) and there are around 50ish stages total. With such a dearth of characters and stages it was inevitable that characters would start to feel similar and the stages would be more trite than they were before, but this game does reasonably well all the same. While I don't actually own this game I have played it for a reasonably long amount of time and have quite a few specific memories of stages and situations. Co-op is reasonably fun but the screen does only render about 25 troops at once and split across 2 screens this becomes 8 or 9 which is difficult to play unless you're right next to your partner.

Lu Bu is once again present though he doesn't have a story of his own quite yet, but Hu Lao Gate is still a fairly impressive mission and second only to Wu Zhang Plains in terms of fun factor in this game. Unfortunately there isn't as much of Lu Bu directly fighting other generals as in DW2, though there is a small amount. With DW3 the game became more event driven so when Kongming orders the fire at Bo Wan Po or Zhou Yu lights the fleet on fire at Chi Bi or Lu Bu meets the three brothers in combat morale shifts greatly to one side or the other. You can still win by brute force as always but often you have to wade your way through the events to succeed. This works well enough but it doesn't really add anything to the gameplay except to force the player to navigate and explore more of the battlefield. Unfortunately said battlefield is often bland with a few notable exceptions and most players will be farming the hell out of every general for weapons and items anyway.

This game adds the inventory system which allows you to improve your weapons so they have more attacks and has various items that assist you. Lu Bu's legendary horse Red Hare is one of the unique items you can get, this horse rides extremely fast and greatly increases your capacity to move through a battlefield with haste. While this will generally eliminate extremely high KO missions it also makes some of the more repetitive missions more bearable. Unique items and "ultimate" weapons are gotten through following specific hidden objectives, the vast majority of which are impossible to figure out without a guide. However, assuming you do know how to acquire them getting the items adds an entertaining treasure hunter sort of element to gameplay.

After playing DW 3 I was quite optimistic about the series' future, with 40 characters each with a variety of attack patterns and the potential for hundreds of more stages and customization options. Alas creativity is not as prevalent as one would hope, and while Koei has interesting ideas for games they don't seem to want to develop them further than their most simple stages. This game gets boring after about 45-50 hours I'd say, and while there are 40 characters to try out it is doubtful you will actually get around to playing them all before you're fairly bored. There is a potential for 200-300 hours of gameplay but you would be mind numbingly bored by the time you got there. It is a very large, if linear, improvement over Dynasty Warriors 2 with only the individual quality of stages and music really deteriorating, but it does hint at the deteriorating nature of the series to come.

Final Score: 8/10

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