Pros: Addicting gameplay, slightly deeper, good character models.
Cons: Repetitive, control issues
Koei has made quite a reputation for themselves with their numerous unique portrayals of the Three Kingdoms Era, with games like the Kessen series, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, and the more action-over-strategy based Dynasty Warriors franchise. With these Koei manages to somewhat bring history alive, although extremely exaggerated and at several times inaccurate, yes, but Koei, through it?s various incarnations have provided unto us some great historically inspired fun.
Anyone who played a Dynasty Warriors title (or any of Koei Three Kingdoms titles) knows the backbone of the story. The three kingdoms of Wu, Shu, and Xu battled it out for the control of China, and it throws you in the role of one of the officers of one of the empires. The story may be a little different from empire to empire as well as officer to officer.
Despite the exotic background story set 1800 years ago, the gameplay itself isn?t too much more then a button mashing, thumb busting, title. Of course anyone who has played Dynasty Warriors 2, this doesn?t came as much of a surprise. In an attempt to add a little more depth, then the somewhat stale Dynasty Warriors franchise, Koei has added some features here and there to try and, make this time around a more memorable experience. First of all Koei has kept much of the battle system intact from the past DW title, aside from some slightly larger combos and some alternate super attacks (or Musou attacks as they?re called). However, in an attempt to add some more replay value. The first major difference is that there is a new item and weapon menu that will allow the player to collect items, or get upgrades to weapons. The real replay getter, however, is the new two player co-op mode where you and a friend can team up together and play through any of the levels you?ve currently played or you can go through a story mode together, which is a wonderful feature, provided that the both of you can deal with the massive slowdown that appears frequently. There is also a Vs. mode which is pretty disappointing, it would be really great to be able to take on a buddy, army to army, but instead it ends up just being you, your four computer controlled bots against your friend and his computer controlled bots. There is also a nice little feature, that gives you the background story of each character and where they fit into history, even though this feature will probably go unlooked at by almost everyone it is still a nice little extra.
The characters are modeled beautifully, with some wonderful attention to detail, not even closely seen in the past installment in the series. On the other hand, despite some minor variations, some of the level designs are just too similar to ignore, many of them are completely indistinguishable despite the different layouts. It would also have been nice to see a few different animations on the lower ranking solders as well, it is a still a little distracting to see a horde of enemies who all look the same charge at you, and it also takes away from the sense of realism (of course the game isn?t going for realism, so this is a somewhat overlookable offence). Worst of all in the game?s graphical glitches is the before mentioned slowdown that the game suffers from, usually when completely surrounded the game goes down to a snails pace where at times you find yourself escaping from battle, just so the game gets back to regular speed, which gets terribly irritating.
The sound can be easily summed up in one word, recycled. Almost all of the sound effects, from the slashes to the screams, have been taken from the Dynasty Warriors 2, as well as the music. To attempt to have the music sound different but not exactly have to change it, several level songs have been taken from the second and simply given a remix. This isn?t all for the worst, however, as the previous title sounded good and Koei decided to mix things around a little, and as a result this one sounds good too. One ?welcome? addition is the more voiceovers that are in the game. For the most part this would be seen as a wonderful thing, but unfortunately Koei decided to not even attempt to go the authenticity route, and the end result is voiceovers that are terribly out of place. Most of the characters sound like a modern day, American businessman ordering coffee from Starbucks on his lunch break, rather than a Chinese general in the middle of an intense battle, 1800 years ago. You have the option of putting the game into Japanese, but still it would be great if they could have them actually speak Chinese.
The controls work fine in their simplicity, despite some minor glitches. Moving your character around and attacking in combo fashion is a breeze. On the down side there are some questionable accuracy while issues creep in where you?ll see several of your arrows pass right through some enemies at some angles. One problem with the second installment was how the in game event scenes, halt the use of all of the controls for a few seconds, which can ruin your timing and leave you open to attack, thankfully the in game events can be turned off if you choose. Despite some minor hitches, over-all the game?s controls are tight as one could ask for.
So if you can over-look the overly simple at times repetitive gameplay. Dynasty Warriors 3 is surprisingly fun. There?s just something very addicting about being able to take on hundreds if not thousands of enemy troops, or being able to stomp down on a troop of solders, with an elephant. So if you?re a fan of the series, or just looking for a new unique beat em up with a Chinese warlord twist, then take the charge into battle, otherwise a nice weekend rental will probably feed your warlord hunger, with it?s feast of intriguing gameplay.