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Dynasty Warriors 2 (PlayStation 2) artwork

Dynasty Warriors 2 (PlayStation 2) review

"Yes itís flawed, but thereís something satisfying about this chaotic 3-D beat Ďem up all the same. "

Yes itís flawed, but thereís something satisfying about this chaotic 3-D beat Ďem up all the same.

Dynasty Warriors 2 is loosely based on actual historical events that took place in 3rd century A.D. China, during the period commonly referred to as the ďRomance of the Three Kingdoms.Ē

You play an officer relatively low down in the chain of command, who belongs to one of the three warring factions engaged in a mammoth struggle for power. Which lord you are allied with depends on which character you choose; there are 9 playable characters and more than double that amount in unlockables.

The game unfolds as a series of battle scenarios. This isnít real-time strategy, however. The scenario goals, such as they are, are generally no more sophisticated than having to advance into enemy ranks, securing waypoints along the way, until you reach and kill the enemy general.

What impressed me right away about Dynasty Warriors 2 was the sheer scope of the battlefield. You arenít dealing with scaled-down representations where one icon is supposed to represent 10,000 troops. Every single soldier in every single battalion is there in the flesh, milling around in a huge sheet of bodies just asking to be smote down with a single broad sweep of the sword. This style of presentation really goes a long way to portraying the one-on-one nature of pre-firearms warfare.

Itís satisfying, if totally unrealistic, to be able to cleave through 30 enemy soldiers at a time while conveniently replenishing health with the various healing items that drop. The game keeps a tally of the number of soldiers youíve killed, and by the end of battle itís not uncommon for the kill-count to be a whopping 500 or more.

Itís hardcore hack ní slash all the way, and totally illogical. Each character has slightly different attributes and carries a different weapon (variations on swords, daggers, spears and axes). They perform a limited number of moves, including a super-powerful Musou attack. There are also horses in the game; you can knock someone off one and steal it (theyíre great for fast travel or knocking people down and trampling them). You can also be knocked off yourself, however.

Dynasty Warriors 2 has no obligation to stick to military formation, and requires very little strategy. Personally I liked the ability to go off on my own without being burdened with a bunch of bumbling, computer-controlled allies. The rest of the army pretty much does their own thing, which includes attacking if they feel like it, but often just standing around while a battle rages beside them in plain sight.

Unfortunately, some of Dynasty Warrior 2ís flaws are too blatant to be overlooked. The PlayStation 2 doesnít like it when there are 100 soldiers on-screen at the same time, which can result in some pretty debilitating slow-down (the game seems to be in slow-motion because the processor has become overloaded with information).

Another other related problem, worse than slow-down in my opinion, is that of pop-up. This is when enemies just disappear off the screen, only to reappear when youíre right on top of them. The fact that you canít see a group of enemies thatís supposed to be not more than four or five feet away is very disappointing.

Another huge issue is the clumsy, inadequate save feature. Apparently those who have the Japanese version of the game canít save at all during a battle, but the North American version might as well not have bothered. Save points (only about 3 Ė 5 per level) are scattered around the environment, usually in a hidden location like inside a pot or box. Happening to find one of these points lets you save at that particular moment in battle only once, whereupon the save point disappears. The obvious problem with this is that itís easy to inadvertently save in a bad spot right before the tide of battle begins to turn irrevocably against you. Once this happens, the level is a write-off. It would be like saving in a shooter right before the enemy blasts you, with no means of getting out of the way.

So unless you want to take a gamble on the save points, youíre in the battle for the long-haul. And battles are generally at least an hour long and often longer. If your character dies, itís Game Over. So think about it: you could potentially invest an hour into a game that ends up being thrown down the sink because your character runs up against the sharp side of a sword just as heís about to strike the finishing blow into the enemy general.

If youíre someone who takes their games seriously and wants to progress through the levels, conquer, and move on, Dynasty Warriors 2 may frustrate you for this reason. But for someone wanting to vent a little steam after a particularly wretched day of putting up with lifeís draining little annoyances, very few things are as satisfying as tossing in DW2 and single-handedly plowing through an entire army. Listen to those bodies crunch.

Itís a shame, being a Westerner not well-versed in Chinese history, that the impressive attention to detail with regards to historical accuracy is lost on me. I can only imagine the excitement I would feel if I were fighting alongside Achilles or Alexander. Instead, the string of historic names and places are totally lost on me. Still, the bodies do crunch real good.

alecto's avatar
Community review by alecto (November 28, 2003)

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