From recent discussions with colleagues, friends, and gaming aficionados, I know many people will inevitably overlook the most recent addition to Omega Force’s Dynasty Warriors franchise. By doing this, they’ll be missing some of the most substantial changes to the series since its 1997 inception. While some will argue that the game’s fundamental components are still in place- from unswerving fights with myriads of encroaching foes to the title’s dependable setting during the turbulent ‘Three Kingdom’ period of ancient China, they’d be failing to see the new direction Strikeforce takes.
While recent series entries have implemented ways to level grind the game’s cast of characters, none have approached the depth of Strikeforce. From harvesting materials to power up your preferred protagonist, augmenting your weapon, amplifying your Musuo attack, to purchasing crucial provisions, the title often creates a sense of determination not seen outside of loot-based diversions such as Diablo or Borderlands.
Before players embark on one of the game’s 200+ quests, they find themselves in a miniaturized municipality that serves as the title’s hub. In this settlement, NPCs offer a truly staggering array of options to supplement your stats; players can strengthen their vitality, movement ability, resistance, as well as attack, defense and fury powers. Weapons are broken down into six categories- from swords, bows, to cudgels, each boosted by orbs, materials, and even the player’s own experience with the particular armament. With so many avenues of advancement, Strikeforce’s splendor lay in its complexity; players can spend unhealthy durations assessing the ideal loadout. The city is also the launching point for the game’s most remarkable feature- its cooperative missions.
Like the game’s PSP predecessor, Strikeforce allows roving bands of crowd-control agents to sweep the landscape free of foes. Unlike its portable brethren, this version doesn’t require players to be in the same vicinity, allowing four gamers to dispatch adversaries via Xbox Live or the Playstation Network. While this allows the franchise to transcend its solitary seclusion, its execution isn’t faultless- many of the flaws of the single player game become woefully amplified with each additional participant. Those who prefer to annihilate armies of aggressors in isolation can use up to three A.I. controlled officers to assist in their efforts.
One of the other improvements to Strikeforce may not be immediately noticeable- stages have been converted from large, sprawling areas, to smaller, focused zones. As such, players will not take to trek through large vacant spaces; each region has a microcosm of activity which maintains the title’s sense of momentum. While combat has been improved and augmented with aerial skirmishes, clashes still lack the finesse associated with top-tier action titles. From enemies which attack from just beyond the camera’s perspective to the sporadic barrage of unblockable strikes, Strikeforce’s warfare can be unruly, but rarely does it ever make the title wholly frustrating.
At times, Strikeforce can be an attractive title, with its delicately textured landscapes and well-drawn characters. Unfortunately, both environmental objects and combatants are reused with troubling frequency, diminishing the potency of the title’s graphical impact. Slowdown can be a problem in certain stages (especially when fire is depicted), and this drawback is multiplied with each additional on-line associate.
Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce presents players with a welcome amount of alterations to the series. Fans of the franchise will surely be jubilant, as it seems Omega Force has finally implemented the requests that have dogged the game since its jump onto current gen consoles. While Strikeforce isn’t flawless, it’s salvo of compelling mechanics deserves an extended look from action game fans.