by Chris Priestman
previewed on PS3
The Art Of War (cntd.)
Looking at footage from the game itself, apart from these changes it follows the same style of the previous games. The graphics are of the same style but have been updated and given a much better finish – smoothing off character models and adding a plush colour palette. Another rather large change that will affect the game’s look is the addition of an optional stereoscopic 3D mode. So if you have the means to, you can completely surround yourself in the battle. The HUD has been stripped to the bare essentials with the morale bar gone in favour of ally officers updating you with battlefield situations and troop morale. This also allows more room for a bigger mini map, so you will not have to squint at the screen to see where you are in relation to the whole battlefield. The only other thing to have changed is the Musou bar, which is now split into two. This allows the player to stack the special Musou moves and unleash them one after the other, or using both at the same time will unleash a stronger Musou sequence. The bars correspond to two types of Musou attack: the primary will be activated on the ground as normal, and the secondary will either be an alternate ground Musou activated by pressing R1+O on the ground; or an aerial Musou activated by pressing O whilst in mid-air. Despite what weapon is equipped, the character will perform a unique Musou with their default weapon.
Health is still collected around the battlefield by finding food and potions in pots and dropped by dead foes. All the usual timed pick-ups like double armour and double speed remain intact as well. The Edit Mode is absent this time around so you will not be able to make a unique character, but this only served to be a different model made from pre-set skins with an identical moves list to other characters so it is not much of a loss anyway. There is also no mention of any other game modes, but you can probably expect the usual Free Mode to at least be present. The trailer, which will no doubt serve as the game’s intro movie is full of the over-top antics we usually see from the game’s cover star, Zhao Yun. He even kicks a horse in the face but nothing has been said about causing damage to horses in the game itself (I doubt this will happen) but it has been revealed that horses can actually kick enemies on the battlefield. Any other information on horses or the addition of any other animals such as tigers or elephants is absent as of yet. Whether saddles can be collected or upgraded is uncertain, but with the return to the previous game mechanics of earlier titles in the series, it is likely that saddles will either have to be found or bought in the pre-battlefield fortress, rather than using the upgrade system of the sixth instalment. There is also no word as of yet about any bodyguards to assist you in battle, but if there are I would imagine they will be found in the pre-battle fortresses for hire.
“He Who Shows His Hand Will Surely Be Defeated”
With all of these additions to vary up the gameplay, veterans of the series should be very eager to get their hands on this next instalment. It is looking to be the best entry into the series yet. People who have not enjoyed the previous games and could not immerse themselves into the game’s universe might also be enticed by the stronger narrative in the new Musou Mode. The replay value of the game is still looking huge, with many hours required to build up characters, weapons and stages and try out all the different moves now being injected into the fighting mechanics. Many of the recurring complaints of the series look to be rectified but footage shows the game is still sticking to its well-known formula. Not all of the game’s features have been revealed or confirmed yet, but it is shaping up to be everything fans were hoping for.
The game will also feature an online co-op mode and DLC is expected for the first time in the series, although no details have been revealed as to what this will be. A rumour is also floating around fan forums that the game might also be compatible with the PlayStation Move. This addition would certainly entice other gamers to try out the game but I doubt they will be swinging their arms around for the fifty plus hours that the hardcore fans of the game put in each instalment. This is still a game for the fans and does not try to sell out or reduce its replay value at all. You can still expect the huge battles in which thousands of soldiers will die at your hands and the new features definitely make this instalment shine much more brightly than its predecessors.