Dynasty Warriors 4:Empires

Ultra-brief review: save your money.

This was an attempt at introducing strategy elements into the Dynasty Warriors beat-em-up games. I’ll admit that it might be the first step towards making some kind of insanely cool hybrid of DW with Romance Of The Three Kingdoms, but if so, then it’s only the first out of what must be 5,000 steps.

The strategy is so paper-thin as to be pointless. Each battle’s outcome is still determined solely by you-the-player’s ability to smack enemies around - the strategy determines whether it’ll take you five or fifteen minutes to win. The story elements that make the Three Kingdoms era such a compelling period of history are almost entirely removed. And the rules for conducting attacks and defenses are so incredibly stupid that I wound up returning the game one day before my rental period expired - it turned the final part of the game in to the most tedious exercise in repetition I’d ever seen in a game. I originally wrote down the reasons why, but I wound up with a pages-long rant that Kitsune could only dream of and eventually just thought “why am I even bothering”.

If you absolutely need more strategy in your gaming world, don’t look for it here. If you’re hellbent on getting this game because you, like I, were salivating over the idea of a more “strategic” Dynasty Warriors, then prepare to be disappointed. The next time you see someone describe this game as “Dynasty Warriors 4 + Romance Of The Three Kingdoms 7/8 = THIS!”, slap that person silly. Then change their equation to “Dynasty Warriors 4 + no strategy + repetition - story = don’t bother”.

Ouch. I’m such a masochist though I’ll probably break down and get it at some point. That point, as of now, moving much further away.

Minus story? I’m suddenly interested.

I’m diggin’ it. The RISK-like camapign is pretty durn shallow, but it’s also how you get powerups, and you WILL lose if you can’t pay for enough men to defend your base or key strategic points.

Stop playing it on EASY, sir!

The Edit Mode rocks, too.

Believe me, I am playing it on hard. That’s standard procedure for the Warriors games, since they’re pathetically easy otherwise. Switching it to “hard” meant that the battles took a bit longer to win. It didn’t result in me, say, losing battles or anything.

Troop numbers would only be an issue if any of my guys actually ran critically low on troops. That hasn’t happened to me since A: it’s as easy as ever to win battles swiftly (focus on defeating enemy commanders to wipe out their unit’s morale, and if you’re near an enemy base then wipe out the troops there to take it over), thus my allies never suffer taking many casualties, and B: 99% of the strategic suggestions you are offered include some kind of “heal xxx troops for xxx units”, which almost always completely offsets any losses you might suffer in a battle and then gives you additional troops as an added bonus. I think on average my guys would lose about 400 troops per battle, then next turn I’d easily get a strategy that includes “heal 500 troops in all my units”. And that’s before you conquer a lot of land and start getting “heal 2000 troops in all my units”.

The only time one of my guys would have low numbers of troops is if I just hired him, since they start off in my employ with no troops. But a few turns of healing and they’re ready to be used in battles, and in the meantime my other officers have plenty of troops for my purposes.

The Edit mode is definitely a decent improvement over DW4, but it doesn’t “rock” when compared to games like Tony Hawk or the WWE titles. You still are limited to making clones of the pre-existing characters (like DW4, the only unique weapons for CAWs are the old Great Sword and Rapier), except of course they’ll look different. It’s nothing that I’d consider a real selling point.

I guess I should say this much: it is still Dynasty Warriors, which is one of my favorite games of recent years. But it just feels to me like the same game I’ve been playing since 2001. I don’t think Empires adds anything meaningful to revitalize the interest of a burned-out DW fan like me (or anyone who played previous DW games and didn’t like them), but if you’ve not played any of these games before, then I bet you’d probably enjoy it a great deal. And unless my eyes were deceiving me, it’s apparently being sold for $30 instead of the usual $50, which doesn’t hurt matters.

I just felt like I was going through the same old motions the entire time.