Dynasty Warriors Volume 2 Review

DW1 - Title

Game Title: Dynasty Warriors Vol. 2
Developer: Koei
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: PSP
Download: 156 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

Reviewing Dynasty Warriors: Godseekers recently made me think about how much of the series I’ve actually played. In all honesty, the only Dynasty Warriors game I’d really played before that was Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires (and Samurai Warriors 4 Empires if you consider Warriors one single series), and I really wanted to broaden my horizons with the series.

Seeing as how most of the Vita’s Dynasty Warriors games are multi-platform with other games, I decided to grab two games from the series recently that are not multi-platform. So, until I resume my Tomb Raider coverage with its third entry, we are going to cover some handheld-exclusive Dynasty Warriors games.

This starts with a PSP exclusive game known as Dynasty Warriors Volume 2!

Story

The story of Dynasty Warriors Volume 2 revolves around various battles of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms storylines, as the entire series has done since its origins. The Yellow Turban rebellion and onward, you will see storylines surrounding many of China’s great battles detailed in the Romance stories.

Though one thing I’ll say is that the story of this game is very underwhelming. When I say we get story, I don’t mean that we get nice, cinematic story scenes. It’s more like you pick a battle to take part in and you get about three bubbles of speech before the battle actually starts. It isn’t voiced and is very bare-bones. For trying to dive into DW games with story, this one’s was very underwhelming and disappointing to me.

Gameplay

DW3 - Gameplay

Much like most of the series, Volume 2 is an action musou game. During gameplay, you’ll be spending all of your time fighting off hordes and enemies in the hopes of gaining control of territories and making your way to the enemy stronghold where you can overpower the enemy and win the battle. It’s pretty basic musou formula.

Now note that this game’s title is “Volume 2”. While the first PSP Dynasty Warriors game is also handheld exclusive (outside of the PSTV), I chose to do Volume 2 because it helped balance out and fix a lot of the issues that came with the first game. While this game isn’t perfect as you’ll find later on in this review, there were some pretty major HUD problems in the first game that are fixed here.

When you boot up the game, you basically have a choice between playing Musou Mode which serves as the game’s campaign/story mode, Free Mode where you can make your own battles, and Multiplayer Mode, where you can use Ad Hoc to make local multiplayer games. However, the majority of your time will be spent in Musou Mode.

DW5 - Musou Mode

In Musou Mode, you will play through a campaign of battles with your selected character from the Character Select screen. Volume 2 contains all 48 playable characters from Dynasty Warriors 5, but you only have access to about a quarter of them from the get-go. When you go through this game mode and complete each character’s campaign, you will unlock more characters to be able to use and play as in both Musou and Free Modes.

Now to actual progression. Every character has a tree of sorts of battles and each battle can have different outcomes. Depending on what you do in each battle, you progress to another battle. As I just said, though, there are different outcomes. Depending on the outcome of your first battle, you could lead on into one of 2 possible paths and the next battle may lead to even more paths. This leads to every run through Musou Mode potentially being different from the last.

Anyone who has played a Warriors game should know the basic formula for Musou Conquest, but it’s slightly different in this game. Instead of there being a giant open sandbox-like group of areas to explore, the overall map is made up of separate grids. When you start, you can only roam around the grid you’re in and cannot move to another until you seize control of that area.

DW2 - Xing

This is also a little different. Instead of defeating a certain number of troops, you take control of an area by taking out any major enemies, like officers, leaders, or unique characters that you come across. Take all of them out and the area is yours. Once the area is seized, you can move to any grid on any side of the one you just took control of. You continue this process until you get to the enemy’s main camp and seize it to win the battle.

Combat is pretty much the same Dynasty Warriors has been for a good while. You have light and heavy attacks you can use to create combos. You also have a Musou Gauge that rises as you fight and when it’s full, you can unleash a powerful Musou Attack. Many DW games that came after this have similar combat systems, like Dynasty Warriors Next.

DW4 - Grid

As Musou games go, combat does tend to get repetitive. I’ve played Musou games that have stayed fun throughout and others that really don’t feel like they have a lot to them, and Volume 2 really hits the mark for the latter. The combat isn’t nearly as fast-paced as some other games of the genre and without the ability to freely roam around the overall map really makes the repetitive nature of the game all the more apparent.

However, repetition doesn’t make the game easy. The game challenged me from the second battle I took place in, which is part of the actual difficulty of the game and the limited control scheme I’ll explain in the next section.

As far as length goes, each battle takes me roughly 20-30 minutes to complete. So, if you did a campaign of, say, 5 or 6 battles, that’s around 3 hours of playtime. Since there are 3 different kingdoms to go through, that gauges the overall game around 9 hours, which isn’t bad for an action game.

Controls

Although I call this a handheld exclusive game, Dynasty Warriors Volume 2 is compatible with the PlayStation TV.

As far as the control scheme is concerned, you use the Analog Stick to move around and you hold L to center the camera. Unlike other games, there are no free-roam camera controls. The only way to manipulate the camera is to press or hold L to center it behind your character. That makes combat in general very difficult and awkward to do. You’ll constantly be fighting waves of enemies and then have to turn, press L, and then continue after you see what’s behind you.

The rest is simple, though. X for jumping, Square for light attacks, Triangle for Heavy Attacks, and Circle for Musou Attacks. Not that the game thought you needed to know. The game doesn’t really explain anything to you. I had to reference the digital manual to find out what half of the control scheme actually did.

Presentation

DW6 - Presentation

Visually, I can’t really complain. For a PSP 3D game, it looks pretty decent. There are jagged edges around many character models, but for what it is, it actually looks much better than what I was expecting.

Audio is basically what you’d expect from Dynasty Warriors. It has some nice rock-based theme music for battles, which is really what I’ve come to expect with my history of the series.

Performance I can’t say is bad. Load times are short and I cannot think of a single time that the frame-rate dropped or got laggy. The game was optimized well for the PSP, which is something many can’t say about some of the more recent Vita Warriors games

 

Summary

Dynasty Warriors Volume 2 was a pretty decent musou for the PSP.  Though the experience is pretty flawed, with an underwhelming story presentation, issues with the controls, and a grid system that makes the repetition more than apparent as you play.  It’s decent, but there are better Musous available to Vita and PSTV owners.   

6/10

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