I've asked the question so many times and I’m still left wondering. The question that just can’t stop burning in my head is “How the heck can one company publish the same game, add a few new contents here and there, package it as a brand new offering, be successful and do it over and over?” My fiancé and I had a long discussion about this and she said that it’s the same thing as shoes. I was like
But then it started making sense, same style, but different color and you’ve got yourself a completely different pair of shoes. So where am I going with this? Well, I wanted to write a quazi-review, but more importantly, acknowledge the genius for Koei’s cash cow for the last 100 years (OK, I’m exaggerating). The 2 games that have been taking up hours after hours of my time these days are Dynasty Warriors 4 and Samurai Warriors.
If you are a child of the 80’s like me (I know, I’m an old fart), when someone says Beat ‘Em Up games, you’d probably start thinking about timeless classics such as Double Dragon, Final Fight, and the greatest NES game ever made, Kung-Fu. Well, these 2 games are sort of like that, well with the exception of the aggravating laugh everytime you lose in a certain level. The concept behind these games is simple, yet the execution is flawless and the gameplay is involving.
In Dynasty Warriors 4, you assume the role of an officer of your choice fighting for one of 3 forces looking to control the massive land of Ancient China. There are different modes of play, but the big one is the Musou Mode, the game’s story mode setting. When you first jump in the game, you’ll have an initial briefing screen where you can select your equipment, ranging from speed boots to different horses, your bodyguards, and your primary weapon. Once in the field of battle, you’re then faced with hundreds upon hundreds of enemies attacking from all sides. You won’t be fighting alone though as you have other officers fighting alongside you as you and your bodyguards storm through the enemy fortress and secure a stronghold for your troops. There are objectives within each mission ranging from assisting in an enemy ambush to protecting your commander during the heat of battle. Each mission can last anywhere between 15 minutes to one hour. I played one mission where I annihilated every single troop and officer and recorded an official playing time of 52 mins and 16 secs.
Samurai Warriors on the other hand changes the setting to a darker theme set in ancient Japan where you can choose from any existing character or, check this out, create your own officer, a la RPG-ish. The New Officer Mode lets you build your own character, train him or her, and have that character join in to a clan to do battle against your enemies. The setting for the most part is the same. I actually found myself saying, “Hey, this is the exact same game!”. But after an hour into it, I was hooked.
Graphically, neither game is revolutionary nor does it introduce some of the best graphics on the Xbox. But the game’s visual is done in a way where you really feel that you’re in the middle of the action and is good enough that you see the detail of your character’s movements and even though it looks like you’re fighting the same warrior a hundred million times, slashing through them with your sword and seeing 10 of them fly in the air is always a good thing.
The sound quality though suffers from some really cheesy voice acting. But for the most part, you won’t notice it as you’re glued in to the action. The highlight for me is the hard guitar riffs that makes you bang your head while banging a the heads of a hundred or so enemy soldiers.
Replay Value is the determining factor whether a game lives long or not. Well, I’ve finished the game 3 times and I still can’t get enough. The fun of cutting through hundreds of enemies and seeing that you’ve killed 850 soldiers in one mission is a big rush. Going through the game more than once to see all the different scenarios is a must.
Well there it is, I know that this is more of a rant than a review, but I hope you all see the genius behind these games as I do. Whether you’re a casual gamer looking for something to occupy your time, or a true hardcore beat ‘em up fan looking to slaughter hundreds of enemies on the field of battle, then you should definitely pick either one of these titles. Think of it as double dragon on steroids. With cool armor. And more enemies. But in 3D. And with weapons. OK, it’s nothing like Double Dragon. But a great game regardless.
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