STAFF REVIEW of Dynasty Warriors 4 (Xbox)

Tuesday, September 2, 2003.
by Underdog

Dynasty Warriors 4 Box art This being my first time playing a Dynasty Warriors series from Koei and Omega Force, I was a little unclear as to what the story of the game was all about, because my school never taught us 2nd and 3rd century Chinese history. So I did a little homework (read the manual.) I found out that China was divided due to an ancient feud, which fueled a battle that end the four hundred year reign of the Han dynasty and split China into three different states. The Wei Kingdom ruled by Cao Cao , a ruler that does what he has to do with an iron fist and by doing so has taking control of the Central Plains and Northern China. Then there?s the Wu Kingdom ruled by Sun Jian, a quick thinker with nerves of steel. His piece of China is southeast of the Chang Jiang River. Last but not least is the Shu Kingdom which is ruled by Liu Bei, a man hell bent on restoring the Han dynasty back to it original glory. Now that we have our history lesson out of the way, let?s get on with the review.

I have heard from other gamers that if you have played the first few installments of Dynasty Warriors, you will have no problem with the game?s controls. But for those who are in the same boat as me. I?ll give a quick run down. After choosing which side you want to represent and your officer, you will go into war against a vast number of enemies, which you must hack and slash your way to your objective, which is simple, slaughter the other side?s leader. Sounds easy but it?s not, you must work as a team and follow your army around, because if you try that hero routine you will find yourself drowning in a sea of enemies.

DW4 got a new feature added, which will let your general face the opposing general in a duel. These duels directly change the morale of your army and the opposing army, also by doing duels will help yourself gain experience for your weapons more quickly. This is a very nice little touch, to give you that one-on-one battle feel. I mean come on, you know you?re the shiznic if you can call out other generals in the heat of battle; just that one thing gives DW4 a great feeling of pride and honor, just as those officers might have felt back in those days.

To help on replay value Omega Force added many options and game modes in Dynasty Warriors 4 such as, Musou Mode, Free Mode, Verse Mode, Edit Mode, Encyclopedia, and Challenge Mode.

Musou Mode is the true heart of this game, because it?s the story mode. This is where you must pick a side and wage war against the other kingdoms to see just who will be the next ruler of China. If you don?t want to rule alone ask a friend to join in the carnage. Koei was kind enough to make this game cooperative play, which is always s nice when a game has that Also, by playing in this mode will help you out with the next mode I?m about to talk about, the Free Mode.

Free Mode let?s the player choose what stage that he or she would like to play. So we have a little cause and effect here people. By beaten stages in Musou mode, you?ll be able to select more stages to do battle in. This mode also has the option of cooperative play.

Edit Mode will give you the option of letting you create your own character or bodyguard units. You will have the ability to pick a gender, change the look of you character (color of uniform, head, chest, limbs and hip.) You can even change the way your character moves.

Verses mode is pretty self-explanatory, but there are four different types of games to play in this mode: Showdown, Encounter, Influence, and Escort. Showdown is your run of the mill one-on-one match to see who the top dog is. Encounter is like a game of hid and seek to the death, players run around in a darkened room and try to find one another and then destroy them. Influence is an original mode; players must use their Imperial Seal to gain allies to help defeat your buddy?s team. Last is the Escort mode, players must try to attack and destroy the enemy carriage, while trying to protect his own from being destroyed.

The Encyclopedia mode is what I call the teacher mode. It runs down a complete list of the characters, weapons, and items that you will encounter during the game. This in turn helps you see that game developer Omega Force has taking a lot of ancient Chinese folklore and applied it to Dynasty Warriors 4.

Challenge Mode has four different types of challenges: Endurance, Time Attack, Bridge Melee, and Demolition. In endurance you must see how many enemies you can defeat before you get defeated. Time attack, you get to see what you are made of and see how fast you can take out one hundred soldiers. Bridge Melee, will let you play one of those childhood games, ?king of the hill? but, instead of a hill you must see how many people you can knock off a bridge, before you get knocked off. Picking up the rear is Demolition Mode, where you must destroy as many things as possible, before you kick the bucket.

The characters themselves look great, with their well detailed armor and facial expressions, the graphics team did great job on that. But one problem I saw at times is that the terrain could be pretty bland and repetitive, but who is looking at the terrain when all you can see a horde of guys coming your way to kick your ass. The character animations were really fluid, but at times when you would have a large number of soldiers on the screen at one time, you would see some slowdown.

The music in the background sounded like Oriental Rock not the best music I think to have with this kind of game, but it?s easy to forget about it, as you start to get into fighting the battles. The battles themselves sound very nice with the swords and other weapons crashing and clanking on metal armor. The voice overs well are what you can expect to have with this kind of game. It?s like watching an old Kung-Fu movie.

You guys made a great game. Two things I can think off hand to change is the music. First, either go all Oriental or all Rock, not put them together. Second fix the AI, sometimes in the heat of battle they just stand there toe to toe with the enemy and do nothing.

Overall: 8.4 / 10
Gameplay: 8.2 / 10
Visuals: 8.6 / 10
Sound: 7.4 / 10


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