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Dynasty Warriors Next Review

In the interest of journalistic transparency, a disclosure needs to be issued: I am a stalwart Dynasty Warriors devotee. Having played through nearly every series permutation, I’ve witnessed the franchise steadily advance alongside each new generation of hardware, while remaining resolute in its fanciful interpretation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Although hacking away to reunite a hemorrhaging Han Dynasty has offered a cathartic experience on consoles, portables have often delivered a substandard adaptation of the action. Without the power of their home-based brethren, GBA, DS, and PSP adaptations have been forced to forgo the franchise’s signature throngs of enemies.

Within a few moments of loading up Dynasty Warriors Next for the Vita, it is obviously that Sony’s new system has the power to provide a proper rendition. As dozens of foes swarm around the OLED screen, returning conqueror Cao Cao carves through adversaries in typical fashion, with the type of visual fidelity traditionally limited to now-gen machines. Pleasingly, the game is more than just a graphically faithful rendition of Dynasty Warriors, presenting a pleasing amalgam of franchise tenets along with enough touch-screen based novelty to enliven the oft sequelized title.

Jumping into the title’s Empires-inspired campaign mode, players are tasked with toppling control of territories which are spread out across a map of third century China. While the customary combinations of normal and heavy strikes are crucial to your efforts, an unexpected number of strategic elements are also critical, especially when playing on an elevated difficultly setting. Before battle, stratagems are the key to gaining a statistical advantage. Here, players can spend a bit of gold to increase the potency of their character’s attack, or even augment the abilities of allied lieutenants.  During battle, a flick of the map will expand its on-screen size. Once enlarged, dragging officer icons will order your subordinates to attack or defend any locations.

Each map is comprised of adversary and allied bases, all connected by a network of roads. Consideration must be given to the order of attack as taking control of a base has distinct advantages. From supply depots which bolster the defensive capability of your troops, to lairs which can send forth a procession of animals to assail your foe, each outpost has the ability to affect the ebb and tide of combat. Taking command of enemy bases involves vanquishing enough adversaries until a counter at the top of the screen depletes, and a cascade of friendly crashes through the gates.

Although the reoccurring takeover of territories can get tedious, Next has a handful of mini-games which help break up the monotony. Periodically, players will enter into a duel with an enemy general, prompting a sequence of swipes on designated paths, on-screen presses, and wild rubbing which symbolizes a decisive swordfight. Other diversions ask players to brush away encroaching enemies and arrows or use the gyroscopic function of the Vita to locate leaping adversaries. Jumping onto a ballista even allows gamers to launch a volley of arrows by tapping the Vita’s rear touchpad. Mercifully, most of Next’s touch controls are optional; players may alternatively use the system’s sticks or triggers.

A mainstay of the series, Musou attacks make an obligatory appearance. Once a player’s gauge is filled, pressing the circle button unleashed a devastating character-specific attack; when gamers are low on health the assault becomes even more destructive. Alternatively, a Speed Musou attack is initiated by simultaneously tapping both sides of the screen, issuing an assault which can be supplemented by touch screen use; like regular Musou strikes, each allied leader has their own unique technique to mow down opponents. Next’s other new addition is the Break Meter, which allows for the instant overthrow of an enemy stronghold when engaged.

Complementing Next’s campaign is Conquest mode, which relinquishes dialog sequences for an imagined take on the Three Kingdoms. After choosing a faction and character, players take turns overwhelming different provinces on the map, Risk-style. Here, the lack of any competitive online component (although four player local ad-hoc is offered) is remedied by having data from other Next-owning gamers serve as the DNA for enemy generals. With Dynasty Warriors having a cultish following, expect opposition to be excruciatingly fierce. Finally, the game’s Gala Mode goodies grant access to the game’s mini-games and even allow players to customize any photos taken with the Vita’s camera with familiar trappings. Unexpectedly, having my dog pose amidst memorable Dynasty Warriors characters proved even more compelling that creating an avatar in the title’s character editor.

Dynasty Warriors Next is unlikely to change the attitude of series detractors. Despite the addition of touchscreen controls and mechanics borrowed from the Empire spin-off series, the title’s battles remain largely homogenous throughout its core campaign. For musou manics unruffled by this expectation, Next offers a shining interpretation of definitive Dynasty Warriors gameplay, nearly aping the look and feel of the franchise’s most recent console efforts.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

23 comments

  1. Good review, but you never explained why you like DW so much. It’s ok, but if you’ve played one you’ve played them all.

  2. I have to admit, if those screenshots are from the PS Vita version, I am impressed. Samurai Warriors Chronicles for the 3DS didn’t look all that great, IMO.

  3. Great review. Thanks, Deagle.

    One question- how many characters are there? Two weapon combat like DW7?

    • 40+ characters (maybe 46?) The two weapon system isn’t here but there are chain attacks initiated with the right trigger.

  4. I just heard there will be a demo for DW: Next “next” week on PSN.

    See what I did there?

  5. It looks pretty awesome. Loved the review!

  6. Cabbage Patch Wino

    I’m not trying to be a hater, but why it is called “next” if it’s basically the same game with a few things from past games?

  7. “Having played through nearly every series permutation”

    When you finally have sex, it will be great. Trust me on this one.

  8. I love a game about ancient China where no one even looks Chinese.

    In for 10 copies.

    • So much for NOLA thanking readers for being nice 😉

      I play the game’s occasionally. I can’t say I’m a hardcore fan, but if I got a Vita and this was on sale, I might be swayed to make a purchase.

  9. I almost shit my shorts when IGN gave this an 8.0. Glad to see some people not hating on DW.

  10. Seems like the Vita’s launch titles weren’t too bad. Hows the framerate?

  11. crappy review, crappy game, crappy site.

  12. I like the DW Empires games, but my favorite was the old RoT3K games (aka Sangokushi). I wish Tecmo-Koei still brought them over here.

  13. I like the way the screenshots almost look like paintings. I’m impressed by the Vita’s graphics.

  14. I took you a little while, but I’m glad to see your finally giving Vita reviews.

  15. 5/5 stars here: http://www.digitallydownloaded.net/2012/02/review-dynasty-warriors-next-vita.html

    “Dynasty Warriors Next is an absolute triumph though, and takes advantage of everything the Vita promises. It’s a pity that the game isn’t better understood in the West, because it’s a real showcase for the new technology and deserves, as much as Uncharted, to be a system seller.”

  16. Is PSN (or SEN) ever has a sale on their digital copy and I have a Vita, I’ll bite.

  17. Man, you guys are loving some Tecmo games these days. DW and Ninja Gaiden both got good grades?!?