We’ve officially run out of names for video games. What we’re getting here is the umpteenth installment in the Dynasty Warriors franchise, a re-release of the “eighth” title. It comes packing a new campaign, a few new characters, and a slew of extra modes. This is not to be confused with Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends for the PlayStation 3, which is a stand-alone expansion and does not include the original game. The “Complete Edition” branding means that you get all of it – the original game and the expansion content. Dynasty Warriors fans know the drill, but it bares explaining for newcomers. This definitive version can only be found on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
I have really mixed feelings about the game. I have fond memories of playing earlier games, namely 3 and 4. From there, I lost track of the series. My friends tell me that this is a good thing. Jumping back in with 8, I felt a wave of nostalgia. The mechanics have changed somewhat, but I settled in rather easily. For the uninitiated, Dynasty Warriors seems like a button masher. And, well, it kind of is if you merely go by number of consecutive button presses in a certain amount of time. But the strategy (and fun) of the game comes from planning your routes and timing the use of heavier attacks and abilities.
Unfortunately, nostalgia wasn’t the only thing that came back to me. Old issues still plague the franchise. The camera is still bonkers. I found myself looking at the sides of walls, wagons, and other characters whenever the action got cramped. View obstructions are obnoxious in a game like this, especially with a timed combo meter hanging in the balance. I’m afraid that it happens far too often. The number of characters on screen is insanely high, which is awesome when you’re going crazy on the sticks. But when you’ve got camera issues, it just compounds the issue even more.
Dynasty Warriors 8 makes for a fairly disappointing PS4 game. If you compare the game to the PS3 version, there are definitely improvements. But the dated engine just looks sore after playing Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider, and Infamous on the platform. Granted, those games probably benefitted from a larger budget, longer development time, and better resources. But still – I have trouble thinking that DW8 looks better than any of my PS3 games. For the first true current-gen DW game, considerable advances in physics could do a world of good to keep everything from looking so stiff.
The Vita version fares a bit better in that expectations are lower. In a lot of ways, it’s in line with Tecmo Koei’s other ports to the platform, like Ninja Gaiden Sigma. It’s great to see full console games running on the hardware, but the concessions are noticeable. The number of on-screen enemies is plenty, but there are some weird pop-in issues here are there. Like the console version, the engine looks dated but passable on the Vita.
If you can get past the issues and accept the fact that it looks six or so years old, this game can hook you for a long time. The sheer number of modes and unlockables to tackle makes my head spin – I don’t have the kind of time to complete each task available. But I know there are Dynasty Warrior fans that will eat this up and spend over a hundred hours on the game. In terms of value, the content is good. But the question for DW8 veterans concerns the Xtreme Legends expansion versus the Complete Edition. The latter is $60 on the PS4, whereas buying just the expansion on PS3 can save you $20. I don’t feel like the “jump” to PS4 is substantial enough to pay full MSRP, but ultimately it’s a better value than paying $40 for only the expansion content sans the visual upgrades. If you’ve got a Vita, that version packs all of the content and rings in at $40 and would be my personal choice.