by Chris Priestman
previewed on PS3
Read It To Me Again!
It is a wonder how Omega Force manage to keep making an adaptation from the same novel and still make sales without too many complaints. If you think about it, do you really want to replay a reiteration of the same story over and over again? With the hack ‘n’ slash Dynasty Warriors series, this is the case. With the release of the seventh adaptation of the classic Chinese novel The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Omega Force are hoping this will be the best entry into the series yet. Their last effort was a little bit of a let-down, with even the game’s producer Takashi Morinaka admitting that Dynasty Warriors 6 was the best they could do at the time whilst they were getting used to the next generation of consoles. The developers have left it a little bit longer to make another sequel so they can provide fans with the best they feel they can do on this current gen. The question is how do you advance when fans expect all of the aspects of the series they love to stay intact? Being a huge fan of the series myself, I have high expectations from this latest title. But has the series got a place on the current generation of consoles?
A True Adaptation
The story of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms starts in the final years of the Han Dynasty and this is where the Dynasty Warriors games have always began as well. One complaint the fans of the game have always had is that they fail to reach the same ending point as the novel. They usually finished with The Battle of Wu Zhang Plains in 234 AD rather than the novel’s ending with the unification of China around 280 AD - when the Three Kingdom period ends and the Jin Dynasty begins. Dynasty Warriors 7 will be the first in the series to end at the same point of the novel and will therefore be the first full adaptation of the story. This has caused a few other additions to the usual roster of characters and kingdoms expected in the game. Adding the Jin Kingdom as a fourth story that is playable once the usual Wei, Wu and Shu stories have ended, means that some of the significant characters from later in the novel make an appearance. Others that are usually one of the many copy-paste minor generals have also been given a personality and made playable. Altogether there will be 60+ playable characters stretching across the four kingdoms as well as the significant other factions and rebel alliances. It is expected that each kingdom will have between 15 to 25 stages to play through, each having their own perspective and stages. Although it is given that some battles will be repeated, they will be seen from alternate sides and using different characters to perform unique tactical manoeuvres.
Furthermore the characters are deeper than before and interaction between them will play more of a role in the formation of the story. Certain aspects that make the game more realistic and closer to the source material have also been included, such as having a two-eyed Xiahou Dun earlier in the story before he loses his one of his eyes and eats it and later brandishes an eye patch with which he is normally seen. It seems that the story itself will play more of a role in the gameplay, rather than simply acting as a backdrop and providing battle scenarios. The Musou Mode will be very different to any of the previous games in the series, as you do not get to choose the character you play as. Instead you will select the kingdom to play through the timeline with as you did in Dynasty Warriors 4, but completely different to any of the previous iterations is that each stage will have fixed characters.
The stages themselves are also being split into two parts, and you will play the battles from multiple perspectives that will have the effect of making the battles seem more of a collaborative effort. Saying this, the gameplay itself will not retract from the usual Ikki Tousen style (one vs. thousand) and there will be at least one stage per kingdom that is dedicated entirely to one character. The example being given of the double perspective stages is the battle at Chang Ban on the Shu side that will follow Zhao Yun for the first half and Zhang Fei for the second. In-game events such as supply bases being burned down, fortress sieges and landslides will be a seamless part of the gameplay and will not interrupt the battle with the slightly annoying cut-scenes of the previous games.
More efforts to make the game seem more realistic and seamless are visible in the pre-battle interface. Rather than operating from a menu with information on your character and the battle, players will find themselves inside a friendly fortress. You will be able to roam around freely and buy upgrades and new weapons and talk to other characters inside the fortress. Talking to these characters will not only help to make the story more immersive, but will be a necessary action in order to prepare for your next battle. Not only will you learn of the proposed battle plan but will also gain an insight into actions performed by yourself or your allies during battle that will give you a tactical edge.