Beyond the relentless mayhem of Dynasty Warriors, even more enjoyable are the flamboyant characters, outrageous barnets and the downright silliness of it all. Warriors Orochi set the benchmark, and still tyrannizes over the series for its sheer length and complexity.
Dynasty Warriors 6 struggles to keep up, but at least boasts a completely new game engine. The fog of Ancient China has lifted and it's now possible to wander the colourful battlefields without buildings popping up a few feet ahead. Also, when you're tossed into the air, it's often impossible to see the ground because it's so saturated with bad guys. Those enemies' spears really don't make a comfortable landing spot.
Enemies haven't been freed from the curse of pop-up though, and they also look strangely blocky as they move further away from the screen. Thankfully, the playable characters never suffer from this and look more majestic than ever with their new costumes and weapons. Koei has rebooted some of characters, with Lu Bu and Dhong Zhuo in particular boasting an extraordinary new look.
The character count in Story mode may be lower than usual at just 17, but this is a compromise to reward you with much more compelling, better acted cutscenes. The fact that it's now remotely possible to understand what the characters are talking about speaks volumes about quality over quantity.
The relatively low number of maps, tallying just 19, is more problematic. Each character tackles 6-7 missions in story mode, leaving little time for leveling up and resulting in an insane difficulty curve. This can be countered by repeating the early missions in Free Play, but we're not a big fan of level grinding.
On the other hand, Koei has simplified the ability and combat trees into a single menu screen and a new 'Renbu' combo system. This straightforward system means that the more hits you land, without being hit back, will increase the strength and range of your attacks.
And no review of DW6 would be complete without a nod to the spine-tingling rock guitar music, easily the most electrifying soundtrack we've heard in some time.
While Hardcore DW fans will no doubt be surprised by this sequel's simplicity, we're hopeful it will introduce a new generation of fans to this much-deserving series. It's the most accessible entry to date, but not the most compelling.
Good but not what we'd call legendary
- Long overdue engine update
- Accessible and fun
- Beautifuly designed costumes
- There are only 19 maps
- Inconsistent difficulty