by Chris Priestman
previewed on PS3
”I Believe Man Can Prevail Over Destiny”
The changes stated so far are new additions to the series that seem to be part of an effort to adhere to the source material more closely and to tell the story how it should be told. This is certainly not going to be an empty experience. The battles are obviously still the main focus, but a strong narrative thread that will weave the story and deeper characters together will accompany them as part of a more whole experience. If you are a fan of the series you may be thinking that this all sounds brilliant, but at the same time part of the game’s appeal and replay value came from the multiple character-based Musou Modes. With this new system, the Musou Mode is only worth playing four times (each kingdom) for original content, and you cannot even change the characters to vary it up a little. Fear not, for there is a saviour that has been revealed, called the Chronicle Mode.
Although the Musou Mode is now very linear and fixed in terms of stages and characters, the Chronicle Mode is where you will get your replay value. This mode seems to be open to all playable characters, including those outside of the four main kingdoms that unfortunately do not get their own story this time around. So you can still play as the mighty Lu Bu thank goodness! Essentially this new mode acts as a custom Musou Mode that focuses on the journey of one character. You will be able to roam freely around China and choose which kingdoms you want to join across the many battles. Specific to this mode will be a number of stories and battles that are completely fictional, imagined by the developers for the various ‘what if’ story arcs that the series often features. Apparently you will also unlock extra stages to play through as part of the main Musou Mode.
The pre-battle fortresses make an appearance in this mode as well so you can upgrade your character and talk to others to decide if you want to help them in battle. It is through this character interaction that you will also be able to unlock new playable characters, presumably if you become their ally. You can also build up your character's weapon to the ultimate version and undoubtedly your character's stats can be similarly improved. Hardcore fans of the series will be playing this mode for hours as they are quite used to, in order to unlock everything and build the most powerful characters possible.
The Art Of War
Much of the actual gameplay is inverting the changes made in the previous instalment, and returns to the traditional charge-based move set that was common earlier in the series. There is a difference that has been added that spices up the oft-complained repetitive fighting mechanics of this old system though. Drawing influence from the other series developed by Omega Force (Samurai Warriors, Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce) a completely new idea is being brought in called Variable Attacks that is part of the exciting new weapons system. Characters can now carry two weapons, which can be swapped in game with the R1 button. This is applicable even in mid-combo to perform these real-time Variable Attacks that combine the two weapons together in a destructive combo. Each character will have a fighting style that is based upon their default weapon, which will mean characters of the same style will share the same moves. However, they will all have an extra attack that will be specific to their default weapon.
The less realistic but more unique and stylish weapons of the fifth instalment are being hinted at making a return – Zhen Ji with her flute, Zhou Tai with his katana and some of the new weapons include: floating swords, harps, magic brushes, hand cannons, bladed yo-yo’s and drill spears. Some weapons will be gender specific but players will be encouraged to try out different combinations of the available weapons resulting in different Variable Actions – there are expected to be around 360 different weapons to try. All characters can swap their weapon to whatever they like, but will only receive a unique attack with their default. You can also pick up weapons from the floor that are dropped by enemy soldiers; these (like every weapon in the game) can be customised in the middle of the battle if desired.