In the past, Dynasty Warriors iterations on portable consoles have been known to be separated, dry games that could not mirror the console experience of running through massive groups of enemies. Looking back on it now, it seemed more like a technical limitation than a design decision. With the launch of the Vita, Tecmo Koei was ready to show off the system’s potential with a new addition to the series’ portable side, Dynasty Warriors NEXT.
Upon stepping into the battlefield, players will already be surprised at the amount of soldiers appearing on screen, which compares well to the same amount that has become expected of console releases. NEXT runs silky smooth during battles, despite allowing players to take down over a thousand troops; when there was too much action on the screen, the game did slow down, but it was a rare occurrence that never interrupted the flow of the game too majorly. Equally impressive, the game includes the entire roster and new weapons included in Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends to make sure that no part of the experience is snubbed.
The hack and slash element of the Dynasty Warrior series remains untouched, invoking combos that combine quick strikes and strong attacks. With the addition of the switch attack and the removal of alternate weapons, characters could quickly cancel attacks and string together combos that may number in the hundreds. Capturing bases now adds a more strategic and practical element; with each base providing a different function, and sometimes necessary component to beating the level, players will want to plan their paths through the levels carefully. Foolish players who choose to ignore this will run up against unconquerable bases or insurmountable odds in the form of virtually endless troops.
Aside from taking advantage of the Vita’s impressive new technical specifications, NEXT also makes ample use of the touch screen and implements it in every imaginable situation. In addition to traditional musou attacks, speed musou can be activated by double tapping the Vita screen, thereafter prompting actions that range from tapping a direction for the warrior to run in, rhythmically shaking the screen for stronger attacks, or tapping the rear touch screen to attack different areas of the screen. Along with break attacks, which capture bases instantly with a single tap on the touch screen, these provide more options for players and definitely eases any sense of repetition seasoned players may feel. When facing off against powerful officers, players will engage in duels, which are mostly conducted by flicking away at the screen, breaking an opponent’s guard, and tapping spots during clashes; compared to the duels from Dynasty Warriors 4, which merely transported two officers to an empty field, it certainly conveys the heated conflict of a mano-a-mano duel.
Mirroring the campaign mode in Dynasty Warrior 7, NEXT’s follows the Three Kingdoms’s story quite closely, even abandoning differing kingdom options in campaign mode in favor of a single story that switches from kingdom to kingdom. Though only the English voice option is available, purists will appreciate Tecmo Koei’s recent efforts to both more accurately portray the story and pronounce the names in Chinese, both of which are reflected here. Alternatively, players can play through conquest mode, which has a mini conquerable China where invasions are determined by arbitrarily obtained numerical values. Though the items carry over the game’s various modes, there’s no real character development aspect to this title, which can shorten the game’s shelf life.
As fun as this title is and despite all the new things it adds, NEXT remains similar to previous entries in the series and is unlikely to convert any naysayers. On the other hand, these new features not only make it one of the unique titles in the series, but perhaps one of the best as well. The biggest drawback is really its lack of replay value, but fans will definitely enjoy the game while it lasts.
Available on: Vita; Publisher: Tecmo Koei; Developer: Omega Force; Players: 1 – 4; Released: February 22, 2012; ESRB: Teen; MSRP: $39.99; Official Site
Note: A retail copy was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.