By Matthew Elliott
Set during the time of the Three Kingdoms period, Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires puts you in the role of one of many different characters. Your goal is to eventually take over all of China. This can be done in one of two ways. The first is as an officer to a ruler. In this mode you follow his orders and basically do what he says. The other mode is ruler mode. In this mode you are the ruler and you must manage you land. It is up to you to take over other territories and recruit officers to work for you.
Empires does come with a create-a character mode which gives you some limited options. Some of which are the abilities to change the gender, face, height and weight, and the clothes. In the end, I felt the characters I could create were much more interesting than the ones given to you in the game.
In both modes the game progresses in one month segments. Every month you are allowed to partake in one battle. This battle could be a mission given to you by your ruler, or it could be a mercenary mission. Mercenary missions usually involve helping a group of settlements defend themselves against a group of enemies. As you complete more mercenary missions, your character will garner stat bonuses as well as the game’s currency. During a month you are also allowed to purchase things, and if you are a ruler you can work with the officers under your rule. I believe that this system works well, once I figured it out.
And figuring things out is where my biggest complaint in this game lies. Its tutorial is a little bit lacking. In this day and age of video game I expect certain things from my games. Such as an optional tutorial that leads me, by hand, through the game as I play. Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires does not offer this. I basically learned how to play the game through trial and error. There is a short tutorial that you can read through, but I didn’t find it until about 2 hours into the game and by that time I had figured out most of what was going on. The first hour was extremely frustrating and I had no idea what I was doing. But in the games defense once I figured it out I began to enjoy the game…. somewhat.
Another feature in Empires is the use of light RPG elements. As you progress through the game you receive experience points which allow you to level up your character. This leveling system is also supplemented by an upgrading system. In this system you can spend the money you earn on weapon upgrades, health upgrades, as well as horses. With the upgrades you can customize your character to better suite you as a player. A drawback to this system is, depending on what territories you are in you don’t have access to all the stores.
At its heart Dynasty Warriors has always been a bit of a button masher. Having three basic attacks – Regular attack (the most used attack), strong attack, and your magic attack – I often found that the only attack I would use was the regular attack and the magic attack when it was charged up. At times I felt extremely bad assed when I was able to plough through hundreds of enemies at once. The only problem I had was when there were multiple enemies on the screen I would often have trouble finding my character in the mass of people. At times like that I found it very frustrating because I had no idea what I was doing.
Graphically the game doesn’t come even close to breaking any expectations. It has some really weird pop-out. The game has grass that can be seen from a distance but once you get close it seems to disappear. The draw distance in the game is pretty good. You can see as far as you need to though this could be attributed to the lack of detail in the level design. There isn’t too much variation in the levels and most of the buildings all look the same.
My biggest complaint to the game is the lack of variety when it comes to the battle modes. There are basically three types. The first is messenger mode. You are given two minutes to traverse the map and deliver a message to a fellow officer. This sounds easy enough, but my first time through I was too slow and I wasn’t able to afford a horse, so I failed every one of those missions which became extremely frustrating. The other type is escort mode. This mode is very similar to the messenger mode. You have to escort a fellow officer through the battlefield and make sure he survives the trek. The third and most common mode is the attack and defend mode. In this mode you have to make one of your bases survives and you are able to kill the opposing officer. In most of the battles you are given an optional target objective. This objective could be killing a certain officer in a certain time limit or just killing other officers. After about 6 hours of these modes became a little boring, and doing the same thing over and over again drove me to reduce my playing time quite drastically.
Diehard fans of this series will really enjoy this game and get a lot out of it, as they have all of the previous Dynasty Warrior games. You could probably spend hundreds of hours leveling characters and going through all the different historical scenarios it offers. With great replay value, Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires offers a great value for the $40 dollar cost.
Systems Available on: PS3 and 360