“If you don’t have nothing nice to say don’t say anything at all”, an adage that’s pretty much how you should go in life. Still I’m not a religious man but, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” has always sat better with me. Why am I thinking such deep thoughts about a game review you ask? Well, I played Dynasty Warriors 9 at ComicCom last year. It was fun but there were a few niggling issues (also minor frame rate issues), so I figured they’d be patched by release and the rest of the game would be just as fantastic as those few minutes. I enjoyed the early Museo games and lots of the spin off series such as Berserk, Hyrule Warriors and the Gundam games. Logically this must be for me! Nope. No. Wrong. Past me; You were so wrong. I’ve literally done anything I can to not have to play any more of this game lately.
Still I’m a professional (Stop laughing) so here’s my take on it…
Installing 11gb off disc isn’t a great start but then you can look at this as a problem with modern gaming overall I suppose. I’d expect the loading times to be improved if it’s taking up a large amount of hard-drive and sadly this isn’t the case. Expect long load times between entering the world for the first time and between any important cutscenes. It’s even chuggy between the menu and Gallery/Encyclopedia. Don’t worry, I’m just easing you into the problems Dynasty Warriors 9 has. You do get a very bombastic CGI intro to the game and then after all of this brilliant madness your greeted with the worlds blandest title screen;
So it’s Dynasty Warriors, you know the score by now; Super powered character goes onto the battlefield, kills people in the 1000s and your largely middle managing the AI to make sure that the flow of the battle is in your favour. Now its open world! What this should have resulted in was an offline version of the MMO with large battles and quests over a vastly interesting plane. What we got was just a very bland map being stretched too thin and full of pointless objectives, quests and the most broken game I’ve played in years. The combat has been changed and somehow they’ve managed to make the game boring. The controls still have the mash square (a staple of Museo games) attack but triangle is no longer heavy attacks but used for reflect/finishing and a r1 modifier to your attacks mixer is thrown in which should help spice it up given circle is again your special museo attack but these feel trivial largely due to the balance feeling non-existent. I’ve finished a lvl 14 quest at level 5 without taking a hit and I’m not that good. The Ai just doesn’t have a clue whats going on and the shift to hard mode doesn’t fix this. Nor does the fact that you can customise your equipment and levelling up as you play stacking the odds even further in your favour. All of the fun has been sucked out of the formula and your left with a husk of a game where the combat just doesn’t connect and leaves you waving in the air waiting for the soldiers to wander close enough to get blown away.
Lets get onto the games biggest failing; The framerate. This is not a game designed for PS4. I’m guessing the ComicCon experience was on a PS4-PRO as it runs like garbage on the PS4. There is pop-in, pop-out, framerate issues, glitching horses, glitching wildlife, fog and so much more. The experience is best described as playing Hyrule Warriors on an old 3DS rather than the ‘new’ 3DS like it was made for. Also the action mode in options which is supposed to help with this issue barely adds to the framerate, still resulting in a jittery combat situation when the number of enemies goes over 10 and what’s strange is that it adds a strange blur to everything. Hugely disappointing all over and the standard cinematic mode only adds a slight polish, so you can choose between a slightly crisper look or a slightly more playable game. Neither of which are good experiences.
So the game isn’t smooth or fun, but it adds hunting and crafting! Yeah I can’t think of anyone that thought that was a wise addition to a Museo game either. It becomes a grind for nonsense items, discovering clumps of wood and logging in abandoned areas and just simply nothing enjoyable. The story mode does include a huge array of characters and you can start from the Wei, Wu, Shu, Jin and ‘other’ but don’t expect to jump in and play as your favourite characters. You only get the starting 3 and then unlock more as you progress. Oh but don’t worry there’s a season pass and dlc so likely if you find yours is missing or doesn’t use their series weapon it will be extra dlc later (Even I know Zhang He should use claws!).
Is there anything positive to say then? Japanese, English and Chinese voice options, which is nice! The voice acting is ok in English but it’s people who you’ve not heard before giving a half-hearted performance and trying to do other voices (check out Cao Cao for a person trying to sound like David Hayter’s Snake). It’s ok in Japanese but the emotions just aren’t really there as if even they didn’t really feel up to it when recording the dialogue and my understanding of Chinese is so minimal I can’t tell you if it’s good or bad. Oh, I suppose that wasn’t very positive after all. Still lets keep looking!
The world does sound interesting filled with birds and wildlife, the sound work and music is Dynasty Warriors 9’s best feature. It’s the games one defining trait and saving it from absolute ridicule. The rocking tracks are fantastic and remind me a lot of Naruto: Narutimetto Hīrō 3 on PS2. The music is just really really good… shame the game isn’t. I really just don’t want to play anymore and given previous Museo games have had me lose days to them this is just a huge disappointment. It’s just full of grind and tedium; Go craft a gem, level up a character for a token small stat increase, faff with quests and more micromanagement just to justify weapons. It’s lost its focused jump in, pressure and feeling that was what kept me coming back to previous titles.
So what to say? Well I found my love for Minecraft again thanks to this game? I’ve found that I miss local multiplayer in Dynasty Warriors more than I expected. I’ve realised I’ve missed quite a few title Dynasty Warriors games from the series due to enjoying the spin offs. Lets just call it what it is, a game that should have been scrapped at prototype and redeveloped from the ground up as a new game in the series. Open world suits a story focused action experience which Dynasty Warriors was but only in well refined chunks. This game is just a single chunk spread and stretched thin until it broke.
2/10 – The music was good enough for a point alone.