" Feel sorry for them when you swat them like a mosquito... "
Title: Dynasty Warriors 2 by Koei
Format: PS2 Fighting/Tactical game
Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A
The Hype: Well, I'm pretty sure this is the game they'd show clips from during the whole "PS2 is too advanced" thing, but that could just be my imagination. Otherwise, it's just a historically inspired fighting game.
What This Monkey Thought...
Graphics: Wow. This is a very pretty game. I was quite pleasantly surprised to see that the degradation from cut scene to game play is very little. Nicely done character models, believable scenery, and nice weather effects. I was impressed all around by this game. The characters all look very appropriate to the situation at hand (i.e.- a third century Chinese land war), and the fighting moves are handled very nicely and smoothly. Only a few jumping frames and even these are handled well enough as to be fairly unnoticeable. 5 out of 5
Sound: If you have no problems with a screaming electric guitar playing the waltz of your war, then all is well. The music is good, and high intensity, but it isn't exactly the most fitting for the game. It will inspire that fighting mood though. Speaking of fighting, the combat sounds are fairly good as well. Plenty of thwacking sounds as you pummel your honor-less foes into the ground. I've yet to find a character that makes a decent sound when they get hit though. The most obnoxious is a woman who sounds like Lucy Ricardo when she gets knocked down ("You won't let me in the show? Ahhhhh"). Still the general melee sounds are fairly well done. 3.5 out of 5
Game Play: This game is a lot of fun. Running through the oncoming hordes with only your sword and your loyal troop of bodyguards at your side as you slay the fools who would oppose you is a lot of fun. The game plays out a lot like a real time fighting game, with several moves that your character does, and each character having different moves. All of the moves are accessed with the same button combo's though, making it a little easier to experiment with each character. The controls are quite simple, and easily learned, and respond quite nicely. Traveling on horseback is a little difficult to control, but it's difficult in an appropriate way (no stopping on a dime, etc). The third person follower camera can be a little annoying as it is often the case that it is turned the wrong way, or just happens to be looking in a bad direction. Still, this is a problem with every third person game, and doesn't make a meaningful difference. Combat is difficult enough to really give you that feel of satisfaction when you defeat a worthy opponent (or to feel sorry for them when you swat them like a mosquito). The campaigns are a quite short, but since you'll probably play through at least three of them, that is a bit of a blessing. My only real beef is with the cut scenes that seem to always play right while you're in a fight. Although easily skipped, they are quite distracting, and usually only tell you that a gate has been opened. 4.5 out of 5
Level and Environment Designs: Being a historical game, it goes far to make everything look as it probably did in third century China. The environments are all nicely fitting (of course never having been to China, let alone in the third century, I can't really comment on accuracy), and evoke the right feelings. The level design only enhances the tactical aspect of the game, providing lots of avenues to loop around your enemy, stop your enemy at the choke point, or just plain plow through them. Usually very simple, and consisting of passes through cliffs or villages, or the plains around a river system, they still manage to give pause for tactical consideration. Well done. 5 out of 5
Multiplayer: Okay, the first faltering step, no multiplayer. You can't even save two different campaign mode games at the same time. A cooperative mode at least would have been a lot of fun! Still the single player action is really good, so I can see letting this go...
Replayability: The game starts you off with nine characters from three different kingdoms, and ends you off with 28 characters. Lot's of hidden characters (most of them bosses at one point or another) makes the game worth another spin or two. Some unlock-able features such as the ability to choose which side to play a map on are rather nice to obtain. Unfortunately there are only a handful of maps, meaning the carnage doesn't spread as wide as some might like. Still, just seeing the different battles to be had is worth a couple of goes at it. 4 out of 5
Story/Dramatics: Although the game is based on a rich historical tapestry of legend, you're very unlikely to actually notice it (it's more like a floor mat of legend here). They give you the option of seeing the background, which will give dates and names you'll probably never remember. It's not essential to the understanding of the game. Cut scenes at the opening set the tone quite nicely, with as little acting as possible (which is okay, since the voice actors are actually pretty good). Important characters generally die with a little message for you (some of which make far more sense to those with a better historical understanding of the game). These in game cut scenes tend to get more in your way though than anything else. 3 out of 5 (with special kudos for keeping the game relatively historically accurate)
Instructions and Learning Curve: Simple to learn difficult to master, that's generally the goal of game designers, and success is found this time. Although fighting is quite easy to get into, learning characters best moves, and better uses can be difficult. The instructions are quite helpful with great information about characters, levels, and general playing. Helpful hints abound. 4 out of 5
Installation and Real System Requirements: I think we're just beginning to see what the PS2 is capable of, but this game is still impressive. Relatively quick load times and almost seamless play keep this game going strong. I saw a little slow down once or twice, but only when there were copious amounts of troops on the screen at once (generally all attacking me). 4.5 out of 5
This game is a lot of fun, as one of the starting line up for the PS2; it's a shining example. Great combat, RPG like character enhancement and hidden characters keep the game going strong even after you've beaten the campaign a few times. A great game all around.
The Good: Great fun with Fighting/Tactical/and even a tiny bit of RPG aspects to it.
The Bad: Some annoyingly timed cut scenes, very few levels to play on.
The Overall Ugly: Chimpan-A Fight! Chimpan-A Like!
What it's Worth: