Oh yeah?!? You and what army?
If there was one surprise title that came with the launch of the PS2, it was definitely Dynasty Warriors 2. While many of us were eagerly awaiting big titles like Tekken Tag Tournament and SSX, this little tactical action game slipped in under the door and showed gamers everywhere just how much fun massive battles in ancient China could be - almost. It was one of those games that bordered on greatness, but could really have used more time in the oven.
Well, it's time to unleash that one-man army again in the sequel, Dynasty Warriors 3. Just in case you aren't familiar with the premise, Dynasty Warriors takes place about 1800 years ago in China. Three kingdoms are vying for power and a war of epic proportions is underway. As a warrior among many, you'll fight through enemy hordes in an easy to handle Final Fight style of play.
For Dynasty Warriors 3, Koei has pulled out all the stops. A handful of new features has been added and many of the issues in DW2 have been addressed. In short, kicking butt on a massive scale just got even better.
Once again you will become an officer of the Wei, Wu, or Shu Kingdoms. If you've still got your saved games from DW2, you'll be able to import your old characters. But though you may have already unlocked all 28 characters from the previous game, you'll still have a treat in store for you. This time, a whopping total of 41 playable characters can be found in the game.
The core of the gameplay remains unchanged. You still basically button mash through hundreds of enemy soldiers with the occasional super Musou technique thrown in for good measure. To their credit, Koei has added a few new combos and Musou variations, but there's no doubt that you'll still be pounding that Square button.
Graphically, the game is identical to its predecessor. There are still some pop-up problems in large battles and some of the environments are pretty bland, but for the most part, there isn't anything that will greatly offend your eyes.
Sound, though, has taken a big turn for the better. The 'Japanese with English subtitles' option just fits a whole lot better than the silly English dub. It's kind of funny that all of these guys speak Japanese since they're Chinese generals, but since there haven't been any Chinese language games released in the US, it's no biggie.
In addition to the old Musou and Free game options, Koei has popped in a pair of new modes. Endurance pits you against an endless sea of opponents and Time Trial challenges you to take out 100 men as fast as you can. Making these two modes even more interesting is an online ranking system. Each time you play, you are given a password that logs your performance. From there, just hop on your computer, head over to the official game site to register your skills. It's pretty cool to see just how you measure up against other warriors.
One of the biggest improvements is the inclusion of a two-player game. Both co-op and versus games are available in the classic split-screen style. While co-op play is great, I'm a little disappointed with the Versus mode. Instead of fighting army against army, it's usually just you and a few computer controlled generals against your friend and his computer controlled generals. Throw in a few hundred more soldiers and it could have been awesome. Instead, it's pretty boring.
Another of the new interesting additions are the item and weapon pickups. Now you'll be able to discover a host of new weapons as well as rare items that will improve your character's stats, RPG style. Searching for stuff like the Blue Dragon Blade (+18 luck, +35 defense) and the Tiger Amulet (+15 to attack) makes the game even more fun.
Other additions include 15 new levels, elephant troops, and the ability to customize your bodyguards a bit by choosing basic commands and weaponry.
The only standout problem is the occasional camera trouble. There are times when you'll be attacking enemies that are offscreen or just occasions where your character is obscured by a tree or other large object. It can get a little frustrating, but it generally doesn't do too much harm.
Despite its flaws, Dynasty Warriors 3 is simply a fun game to play. Seeing your kill count reach astronomical heights, playing with a friend or just watching your character increase in power does wonders for the gaming heart. By adding more depth and a much needed multiplayer mode, Koei has improved the series. So if you're a fan of beat 'em up action on a massive level, this is definitely the game for you.