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Dynasty Warriors 7

Score: 96%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Koei
Developer: Omega Force
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

A friend of mine introduced me to the Dynasty Warriors series a few years ago. My question then was "How can they keep making the same game, going over the exact same historical elements, and people still buy it?" The answer is simple. They keep improving the game and bringing in more historical things to add new content so that you really don't feel like you're playing the same thing again. Besides, there is plenty to cover in the Chinese history of the Three Kingdoms.

I am continually amazed at how beautiful the graphics are in some of these games. Dynasty Warriors 7 is no exception to the trend. Everything just looks a lot more detailed and crisp than it has in the previous versions. There are little things, like the player's breath in cold areas, that just finish off the look nicely and complete the scenes. Another change that I love is the seamless transition from cutscenes to action. There is not even a pause between the end of the scene and you taking control of the character. Also, the map on main screen is much easier to read than before, especially when you are in a building. You can actually see where you're going without zooming in on a lot of the maps.

The soundtrack for Dynasty Warriors 7 is awesome. There are so many different songs that you never get tired of the same music over and over again. Once again, it's the little things that I appreciate, like the sound when your musou bars is full so that I don't even have to look down at it to know that I can unleash the musou attack. The one thing that really annoyed me are the bells on Gan Ning. Every step he takes makes a noise and, while I realize that it should be an accurate addition due to the bells on his chest, it was quite annoying to hear, so I think I'll avoid playing with him which is sad, since I really like the character. The way the sound effects surround is awesome! I like hearing everything all around you. It makes you feel like you're more in the game.


In Dynasty Warriors 7, there are two main areas for you to play, Story Mode and Conquest Mode. While this might not sound like there's much to do, I'm about 30 hours in and I've only completed half of Story Mode and maybe 1/5th of Conquest Mode making Dynasty Warriors the longest hack 'n slash that I have ever played. I love that there is so much to do; even of some of the areas are the same layout. Given that this is a historical game, it makes sense that the places are the same when different battles are fought there. The only thing that really feels repeated is the very beginning of the stories when you're fighting the Yellow Turban Rebellion. It is more or less the same for all parties, but that's a real small part of the game. I do wish there was still a Free Mode as well, but I guess that Conquest Mode somewhat replaces the need. I liked being able to play Free Mode though, because I could use any character for any scenario.

Let's start with Story Mode since that's where you'll spend a lot of time unlocking characters. The biggest difference is that it now feels like much more of a story, with once scenario flowing directly into the next. Before you start most battles, you'll start off in a camp where you can wander around and talk to people (there is an achievement for triggering all conversations). You can also buy weapons when there is a weapons dealer. These things make Dynasty Warriors 7 feel more like an RPG than just a hack 'n slash. Granted, you're not going to change the game with any of the conversations, but it's still interesting information. I really like that there is even more story for the characters in this game. It makes it feel more like the real people that they were in history. You will notice that there are now four kingdoms, Wei, Wu, Shu, and now Jin. The new addition of the Jin Dynasty historically appears at the fall of the Three Kingdoms ushering in a new Era, just in case you were wondering (like I was) how they magically added a kingdom to history. I have to wonder if the new Dynasty Warriors game will pick up there and give us even more new history lessons. One thing that I miss is that it doesn't tell you when you've unlocked a character to play as, when you're in Story Mode. I liked knowing that as I went along, but you can assume that if you played with them in a story, they're unlocked for Conquest Mode.

Conquest Mode looks like a really large Settlers of Catan board with hexagon tiles stretched out across the screen. You start in the upper right corner and you'll have to complete a tile to unlock the ones near it. Most of the tiles are battles, some of which have to be played as a specific character. Some of them are cities though. In these you can buy various things, talk to more people, earn money answering history questions, and more. The Conquest Mode battles are relatively short compared to Story Mode, so you can explore quickly but there is a whole lot to get through! One thing to note, you can only play two players in Conquest Mode. If the second player decides to leave, you need to choose 2 Player Exit from the Menu. Otherwise, even when you go back to Story Mode, you'll have to keep that second controller active or you'll keep getting a message to turn it back on, which is very annoying! You can unlock some players, like Xing Cai in Conquest Mode.

A huge change from the previous games is the weapon system. Previous weapons were tied to players, so when you wanted a better weapon for a player, you had to play with that character. Now, there are shared weapons between all the characters, so when you find or buy a weapon (new ones, as well) any character can equip it. You can still add special traits called Seals to the weapons. As is normal, some characters are going to have a greater affinity for certain weapons, so make sure to equip weapons with the highest stars (one is lowest, three is highest) since your character will be able to use those best. One other thing you'll notice is that some characters only have two stars, with a third greyed out on the weapon that they can EX attack with. Don't worry though; you can unlock that third star in the character skills. Skill points are accumulated as you attack and kill enemies. You can use these skill points to unlock character skills like stronger attack and additional musou.


With even more changes, Dynasty Warriors 7 now provides five levels of difficulty: Beginner, Easy, Normal, Hard, and Chaos. Honestly, Beginner is way too easy. I really don't think you can die on it unless you try hard! Thankfully, there isn't an achievement for beating every board on every level though, so there's no need for you to play those that are way too easy, if you don't want. When you start a new story in Story Mode, you will have to choose a difficulty. Make sure that's the difficulty you want to play, because you'll have to start that story over to choose a different difficulty level. As for achievements, there are a lot of them, 50 to be precise. Most of them are only worth 10-30 points though. It's going to take you a lot of time to get through them all if you're a completist.

The thing that makes difficulty a bit harder to judge in Dynasty Warriors 7 is the new shared weapons concept. If you play straight through one story, you will have unlocked some really powerful weapons. This means that when you go to start the next kingdom, you're already starting with a nice weapon, so you'll find that you might want to kick it up a difficulty level or it will be way too easy with such powerful weapons.

Game Mechanics:

If you've played any of the Dynasty Warriors games before, then you already know the basics of how to play. I still recommend that you run through the tutorial anyway, for two reasons. First, you'll get an achievement for it so, for those of you who want all the achievements, the tutorial is a quick way to get one. Second, you'll get a quick refresher on the controls and learn a few new things like the EX attack, so take the few minutes and go through the tutorial. There are a few new things like platformer skills with climbable cliffs, although they're very easy to climb. You also get to use the ballistae and catapults to destroy obstacles which is a lot more fun that just destroying the catapults. One of the things that took me some time to find is the history log. History is in the Pause Menu under map and then press (Y), but it doesn't have the exact times that those things happened anymore. The new big green circle on the map makes it easier to figure out where you need to go though, so you don't need to consult your history as much anymore. So far, I haven't run into any levels where you need to know how fast you're doing things, so I don't think that the time really matters.

There is a lot more I could expand on about the new and improved features of Dynasty Warriors 7, but there's only so much room here. I can sum it all by saying if you're a hack 'n slash fan, you really need to go buy Dynasty Warriors 7 today. It is, by far, my favorite hack 'n slash so far and I foresee many more hours spent playing it!

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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