Developer: Omega Force / Publisher: Koei || Overall: 7.5/10
Koei’s Dynasty Warriors series has seen quite a few implementations since its conception in the late 90s. Based on Chinese history and the battles that surround its historical figures, the 3D action game has seen a second iteration on the PSP. While Dynasty Warriors: Vol. 2 will probably remind you of the same exact game seen on home consoles, there is something to be said for it being portable.
Dynasty Warriors: Vol. 2 is a sequel to Dynasty Warriors for PSP, which was released at launch. Vol. 2 is the first Dynasty Warriors game I’ve ever laid my hands on. While I wasn’t expecting much, I was satisfied with the experience that the game offers, and best of all it works pretty well for a portable.
The main mode of play is called the Musou Mode. In this mode, you select a character that is a part of one of the multiple Chinese kingdoms that existed at that time in history. Once selected, you will fight a series of five battles, unlocking different battles as you make your way through the game with your selected character. There are many characters to choose from, so this in itself will keep players busy for a long time to come if you want to increase each character’s stats.
Gameplay is exactly as seen before in the series – nothing should surprise you if you played a Dynasty Warriors game before. You go through the game and destroy all who stand in your way with your superhuman player character. While the gameplay basically stays the same between each of the different selectable characters, it differs ever so slightly by the special powers and weapons they have in their arsenal. You’ll be mowing through underlings but every once in a while you’ll fight a boss-like character. The boss characters are usually commanders of a particular group of soldiers, and once defeated, their army will retreat.
When you invade an area, you will enter a battle with the forces that occupy the area. Battles can change against and toward your favor if a new army invades the area you’re currently fighting in, which can change the outcome of the battle if you’re not fast enough. To win a battle, you’ll have to defeat all the enemy forces. To lose one, you’ll have to either retreat out of the battle, have your main character be defeated, or lose all your forces. There are other extraneous objectives that you’ll have to complete to actually defeat the whole stage you are on, but they vary from occupying a certain amount of areas to defeating an enemy general’s army.
Dynasty Warriors: Vol. 2 is a great title to waste time with, simply because it’s a fast game to play with almost no loading times. The only time you’ll see any noticeable loading is when you first start the game and when a stage is selected. Once you begin a stage, there is absolutely no loading between different areas. There is also a very solid frame rate that will not result in any ghosting on the PSP’s LCD screen, and one can enjoy the action as it happens with practically no slow down at all.
There are noticeable sacrifices to achieve the steady frame rate and excellent load time, however. Almost all the areas look exactly the same – very rarely will the map you’re fighting on actually change within the stage unless you’re on a special area like an enemy’s base, which obviously puts less strain on the game to have to load something new. To keep the frame rate steady, you’ll see that there will always be enemies popping in and out of nowhere. No doubt this is because there is a maximum amount of actual characters that will be shown on screen at the same time. Sometimes you’ll even kill an enemy you don’t even see, which means the game knows that there’s an enemy somewhere but they won’t actually show up until you kill another enemy.
The main control issue I have with the game is that there is no easy way to change your camera’s view. Dynasty Warriors: Vol. 2 begs for a right analog stick, as the chase camera that is almost always behind your character’s back does not do well against enemies that are hidden behind the camera itself. There is a quick way to turn the camera around, by using the L shoulder button it will refocus the camera to behind the character’s back again. So if you turn in the direction you want to look all the time, it will be fairly easy to manipulate the camera. Otherwise, the game is fairly solid in its 3D beat-em-up style, as the controls are very responsive, and you’ll have different special attacks to keep using throughout battles.
Dynasty Warriors: Vol. 2 is a recommendable PSP game if you want to take Dynasty Warriors out of the house with you. While the experience you’ll get isn’t exactly unique to the PSP, it is unique in the way that it is on the PSP. There is plenty of gameplay to be had if you want to put the time into it, which is important when looking for a game to waste time with on a portable.