Points: 225
Cyber Grunt
Cover Story: It Came From Outer Space!


Dynasty Warriors 6

(XBOX 360)

Another day, another Dynasty Warriors. Our review.

When I was in college seven years ago, Dynasty Warriors 2 served a very useful purpose: Koei's hack-n-slashfest based on Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Chinese civilization's greatest epic, acted as a decent button-mashing stress reliever in between classes, and its cut-scenes served as entertaining visual aids for presentations in Chinese history class. The Dynasty Warriors series may be the whipping boy for derivative gameplay these days, but don't forget that as a first-generation PS2 title, it was surprisingly innovative: We'd never seen so many onscreen enemies going at it in real time -- and without slowdown, to boot.

But as I played through Dynasty Warriors 6, the series' first entry for this console generation, one thought kept permeating my head: "This is exactly the same game I played in college." It doesn't push the hardware like the original PS2 games do, and the "strategy," as always, is hardly the stuff of Sun Tzu: ride in on your trusty steed, mow down hundreds of faceless Chinese foot soldiers, and then track down the generals to decrease your opponent's morale. Not that your opponent puts up much of a fight in most cases -- hell, most of my failures came from brain-dead A.I. buddies waltzing into enemy garrisons, not my own shortcomings as a swordsman.

[Click the image above to check out all Dynasty Warriors 6 screens.]

Problem is, Dynasty Warriors games sell -- which means there's no motivation for developer Omega Force to innovate...unless you count swimming and climbing ladders as now-gen "innovations." Which I sure as hell don't. And swapping out the series' familiar item system in favor of a stumpy "skill tree" doesn't count, either.

But let's face it: The biggest problem this series has after 14 games (including expansions) in North America is that the Three Kingdoms theme is tired. I have a degree in East Asian Studies, took countless Chinese history classes in college, can name every Chinese dynasty in order, have actually read the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel -- and even I'm sick of the setting. New 1UP Network Editor-in-Chief of Videogames James "Milkman" Mielke pointed this out, and it bears repeating: We've seen the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the Battle of Hu Lao Gate so many times that they've lost their meaning. It'd be like a Western developer crafting a series based on the American Revolution in which you fight the Battle of Bunker Hill for 14 straight games.

[Click the image above to check out all Dynasty Warriors 6 screens.]

Yes, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms tale is enthralling. But is anything enthralling 14 times in a row? The Romance of the Three Kingdoms setting works in Koei's strategy series because it's never the same game twice -- the focus is on how the player outsmarts an ever-changing enemy. Hatching plots and stratagems is also more in line with daily life in the Three Kingdoms Period; it wasn't a bloodbath in the streets every day, after all. Dynasty Warriors, on the other hand, is the same game every damn time. The same battles, the same strategy, the same results. There were other wars in Chinese history. Can't Koei come up with a setting that respects the rich tapestry of Chinese civilization but also offers the player something different? The Spring and Autumn Period? The Mongol invasions? The Opium Wars, maybe? As if Westerners weren't already ignorant of Chinese history to begin with -- now they probably think the Chinese fought the same damn war 14 times.

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Dynasty Warriors 6
Xbox 360, PS3, PC, PS2
ESRB Rating:
Release Date:
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1UP Editor Score: C

Average Community Score: A-

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