Published on May 1st, 2014 | by Joseph Saulnier0
Dynasty Warriors 8: Complete Edition
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition includes both Dynasty Warriors 8, which released on PS3 last year, and the Xtreme Legends expansion. The latter adds in a few new characters, stages, alternate missions and one or two new modes. Alone, the expansion would provide a decent amount of content, but when packaged together with the original release, you’re looking at weeks of hack/slash action.
Dynasty Warriors 8 fans that own PS Vitas will be happy to hear that the game has made its jump to handheld quite handily… get it. Facing off against entire armies on the portable device allows for a home console-based experience while you’re on the move. Or just being lazy not wanting to get out of bed. The game is capable of rendering an impressive amount of troops on the screen at once, and it’s safe to say that anyone who is familiar with the series will feel right at home, even despite the smaller display.
Throwing so many soldiers into view takes its toll on the technical performance; however, make no mistake. DW8 recreates the action found in its PS3 counterpart to the best of its ability, but there are relatively rare occasions where the frame rate crashes into single digits, and soldiers will pop in and out of existence when the game thinks that you’re not paying attention. While these problems aren’t deal breakers, it’s frustrating to see the performance to take such a hit, especially when you’re trying to weave together combos or fend off several enemy officers at once.
Thankfully, technical mishaps are where the bad news ends. If you’ve been hankering for some genocide on the go, then this is easily the best Dynasty Warriors title that you’ll find on a handheld – mainly because it’s a direct port, and doesn’t attempt to do anything outside of what the franchise does best. It helps, of course, that the Xtreme Legends content goes hand-in-hand with the base release brilliantly, adding in five new playable characters, a host of stages filled with new objectives, and a high score-based challenge mode. It even goes as far as to flesh out the existing Ambition mode to a ridiculous extent, providing an endgame of sorts where you’ll be conquering other kingdoms for the glory of the Emperor.
For those unfamiliar with DW’s eighth instalment, it featured four storylines within its main mode, one for each of the tale’s titular kingdoms. Taking you from their beginning, to one of their most important final acts, each army is populated with colorful personalities who are in constant conflict with their neighbors. Here, the fresh content comes in the form of various new stages that supplement the already grand stories, along with a totally new plot that follows popular brute Lu Bu‘s splinter faction. Some are ‘what if’ scenarios, similar to the theoretical routes that already exist within the story mode, while others detail the achievements of the expansion’s five new warriors.
Regardless of their context, these additional stages are great fun to fly through, and in some cases, feel more refined than the existing battles due to a number of design choices. For starters, these new maps tend to be even more flooded with opposition than usual, so there’s never a boring moment as you wade through thousands of enemy grunts. And secondly, they’re generally better paced – you likely won’t find yourself trekking back across barren battlefields to complete an objective that’s miles away from your current position. Instead, these additions see your character tasked with pushing through the enemy ranks in a linear fashion, which benefits DW8’s traditional focus on non-stop action.
Speaking of which, a few tweaks have been made to the fighting formula. Ex attacks – specific moves that are executed by using your chosen warrior’s favorite weapon – now come in twos, as each character has been fitted with a second technique. Not only does this mean that the cast is even more diverse, but some of the attacks are so good that they single-handedly make a few of the less effective fighters well worth using. Subtle changes have also been made to the way that your opponents engage in combat as well. Annoying archers now draw swords when you close in, eliminating the awkward and often dangerous standoffs that used to occur. You’ll have to be even more tactical when taking on opposing officers, too, as much like you, they’ll be able to switch their weapons in an attempt to equip something that your own weapon isn’t very effective against. That said, targeting particular foes using the Vita’s smaller analog sticks can take some getting used to, especially if you’ve put plenty of time into the previous PS3 edition.
To top it all off, the fan favorite free mode has been overhauled (to an extent), allowing you to take up to three bodyguards into combat. Your progress in Ambition mode also bleeds over, so that you can buy powerful weapons that you’ve unlocked by upgrading your blacksmith. This further solidifies the feeling that everything you do in the game – whether you’re grinding for levels or carrying out newly implemented battle-specific objectives – is entwined, and you’re always advancing your overall completion rate.
If you’ve been eager to bloody your blade on the move, you can’t go wrong with Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition. Its conquest of Sony’s portable device hasn’t been entirely smooth – with frame rate problems and poor visuals detracting from the experience – but the sheer amount of content offered makes up for its technical shortcomings. Simply put, succumbing to the slash-’em-up’s slaughter has never been easier.
4 out of 5