If no one else can help, maybe you can hire the Wei Team.
“We’re taking the Dynasty Warriors setting, and some of the gameplay elements… but that’s where the similarities end. This is the first Dynasty Warriors game with true multiplayer—the first one, on either handheld or console, which will let you play with up to four players.” That was what Koei’s Sales & Marketing Manager Jarik Sikat said as he led me into my first multiplayer hands-on with the forthcoming Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce for the PSP. The actual subtitle, ‘Strikeforce’, might have a somewhat jarring, off-putting ‘contemporary’ tinge to some gamers’ ears–but longtime fans of the venerable Koei franchise have nothing to fear. The settings, character roster, and overall feel have the same sense of familiar country that Dynasty Warriors fans have come to expect.
[image1]And this time around, they by-their-ancestors won’t have to share a screen with anyone.
Produced by Keniichi Ogasawara (who also directed Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War, released in North America in 2007), Strikeforce will let up to four players team up (in ad-hoc-only multiplayer) for the first Dynasty Warriors experience where players get their own full screen—the screen of the PSP, in this case. The game encompasses the stories of The Three Kingdoms – Wu, Shu, and Wei – with each Kingdom having its own overarching story, interspersed with localized cinematics (sorry, nihonjin-wannabes, no optional nihongo-language toggle; alas, only so much room on these damned UMDs). Spread across three stories, the game features 10 total villages, each of which acts as a hub for different missions to conquer various heavily-defended fortresses.
[image2]Individual missions, crafted to clock in at approximately an optimistic 15 minutes or so apiece, challenge ‘strikeforces’ composed of up to four players to work as a team—taking down fortress guards, towers, defensive weapon turrets, and swarms of enemies. When I played at the Koei offices, my ad-hoc team—three players instead of the maximum four—basically broke our "Strikeforce" down into different distinct roles, and Strikeforce is thus optimally suited for such task-assignment. In our case, we tended to have two team members, equipped with two standard weapons each, swoop in, and concentrate on neutralizing the scattered automated defense-turrets of the enemy, while a third rogue member engaged the swarming enemies face-to-face. In stickier defensive setups, an additional player might be tasked, for example, to run around shutting down the cages that would otherwise spawn tigers to charge out into the fray on a regular basis.
Strikeforce also takes the battle to the air Crouching Tiger-style; the martial-arts-film-style “air” fighting techniques provide both unique advantages against earthbound foes and a slightly less painful way to harass mega-bosses like the massive, multi-story, quadrupedal animate-stone temple guardian we found filling most of the screen during one battle.
Furthermore, the Musou gauge has been replaced by the Fury guage—when filled, it allows players to summon a “Fury”, which also radically enhances both the player-character’s performance and appearance for some powerful, if temporary anime-inspired whoop-ass.
[image3](And yes, these aforementioned missions can be tackled completely alone, you sad and vanguard-ish lone gamer wolves, you.)
What else? Strikeforce players will apparently be able to download and trade new items and missions in the PSP’s ad-hoc mode. Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce is already shipping in Japan this month alone, or as part of a nifty hard-bundle with the ‘Radiant Red’ PSP, and will strike American shores in early Q2 2009. When you and your varying-degrees-of-honor friends are ready for the challenge, come and worship at the GR temple for a full review.