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PS2 | Action | Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires | Review

Boxart for Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires
Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires 18 screen shots
  • GRAPHICS: 4.0
  • SOUND: 3.5
  • CONTROL: 3.5
  • FUN FACTOR 3.5

Review: Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires

While there really isn't all that much to get excited about, fans of the genre (and the series) should find plenty to keep their button mashing buttons busy.

Ah, Dynasty Warriors my old friend, when will you give me a chance to collect my hack n' slash breath? KOEI is back at their old tricks again with a "brand new" version of their popular medieval Chinese-based Dynasty Warriors, this time giving the Empires treatment to Dynasty Warriors 5. While there really isn't all that much to get excited about, fans of the genre (and the series) should find plenty to keep their button mashing buttons busy.

An Empire Awaits
If you played Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires, the premise behind 5 will come pretty easily. Just as in that game, you start off your adventure by picking a territory in ancient China to control, and then proceed to take over the country either through diplomatic or forceful means. If you want to be suave about it, you can go both routes simultaneously through some careful use of diplomacy and battle tactics. When not laying down destruction on your enemies (and their territories) you can bolster defenses in regions that you already control, allocate officers to those regions, and manufacture helpful items for when you do get called on to the field of battle. The item manufacturing system is a bit different than before, requiring you to go through a policy creation system to create items, but in all the system is pretty similar to the last Empires game.

Diplomacy, while helpful, takes quite a bit of finesse to pull off. I found myself instead opting for the more direct approach to conquering territory - that is, with my blade. The battle engine is pretty much identical to every single Dynasty Warriors (and Samurai Warriors) game to date. You have a few different attack combos at your disposal, as well as your Musou gauge that lets you unleash a powerful attack against multiple enemies. If you're feeling creative, you can also create your own unique officer, which helps inject a nice dose of variety in to the otherwise somewhat bland character roster.

Next-Gen Ancient Action
With the game appearing on both the Xbox 360 and PS2, you'd think that the next-gen visuals would blow away the current-gen version. Well, this actually only ends up being partially correct. While the Xbox 360 version does look pretty nice, with improved character models and particle effects for Musou attacks, the game still suffers from a heavy case of generic environments and repetitive enemy models. Enemies still look virtually the same, and levels are made up of cookie-cutter segments that lack any real visual punch. It doesn't help things that both versions of the game still suffer from some annoying draw-in, too. This flaw is most disappointing on the Xbox 360, considering you would think that the extra processing power of that next-gen system could at least handle the added weight of having enemies appear on-screen in a rational matter.

Dynasty Schmynasty
If you're a hardcore fan of the series and absolutely must unite ancient China under your iron-fist of rule, Dynasty Warriors 5:Empires will be right up your alley. It's got plenty of depth and strategic opportunities, not to mention an almost illegal amount of hack n' slash action. If you're on the fence, however, as to whether this version of the game is finally going to be the one that grabs your attention and never lets go, you're better off looking elsewhere. While a fairly competent game, it just doesn't manage to add enough new content to make it worth a serious look.