Hack and slash till you get bored

The Dynasty Warriors franchise has always been about hack-and-slash action, killing thousands of enemies, fixed stage progression gameplay and playing as a character from the Chinese literary classic Romance Of The Three Kingdoms, such as Cao Cao and Lu Bu.

Its latest iteration, Dynasty Warriors 9 (DW9), intends to broaden its predecessors' appeal by having a new open world that comes with day-night cycles and dynamic weather conditions and by adding side missions to create diverse progression gameplay.

Players can also take advantage of their surroundings for attacks, such as by using a grappling hook to climb walls to surprise their enemies or by firing arrows at oil barrels to create explosions. They can also ride a horse to get from place to place.

Plus, there are different tactics involved during a mission. For example, you can attack head-on or infiltrate at night to complete the mission.

There are also new role-playing elements in DW9. You harvest plants to create pills, collect iron and other metals to craft weapons and fish or hunt for food. You can also get your own hideout or resting place and decorate it with furniture.

There are seven new characters in DW9, which push the game's playable characters to 90, from its predecessor's 83.

  • 6/10

    RATING

    PRICE: $76.70 (PS4, version tested; PC, Xbox One)

    GENRE: Hack-and-slash action

Start by playing as one of the three main characters - Liu Bei, Cao Cao and Sun Jian. New characters are unlocked when you finish certain chapters in the story.

It has been a while since I last played a Dynasty Warrior game, so my impressions of the previous iterations have faded.

But the graphics quality of the DW9 is as superb as I remember it to be.

Each character is beautifully rendered, with intricate details on his or her armour. Every move and attack looks smooth and realistic.

The environment also looks gorgeous, whether it is day or night, rain or shine.

I note some graphical glitches at times though - a character getting "submerged" in a high wooden platform during fights, for example.

Probably the biggest bugbear I have is the voice acting. There are numerous cutscenes and plenty of dialogue, but the delivery of lines is cringeworthy. Fortunately, players can skip the dialogue.

Gameplay wise, it has stuck to the usual format of hacking and slashing the hordes of enemies. But the attack mechanism has been changed.

Instead of Normal and Charged Attacks of previous versions, there are Flow and Trigger Attacks in DW9.

Flow Attacks are essentially normal attacks that can be strung together in a combination, while Trigger Attacks allow you to stun or knock down an enemy. And there are the new Reactive Attacks, which allow you to counter enemy moves or finish off weakened enemies.

The new attack mechanisms make you think more about which button to press during battles, compared with the mindless button mashings of the past.

Nonetheless, battles still become boring after a while. It is always the same routine of killing the enemies and moving to the next checkpoint.

And while fishing, collecting resources and crafting weapons do break the monotony a bit, these activities, too, become boring.

  • Verdict: For those who like no-brainer hack-and-slash action, Dynasty Warriors 9 hits the mark.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2018, with the headline 'Hack and slash till you get bored'. Print Edition | Subscribe