Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce PSP Review

Putting your brain on holiday, whilst hacking through legions of similarly vacationing brains, is something that we have come to expect from the constantly reproducing Dynasty Warriors series. Changing little with each new game, Dynasty Warriors still manages to remain fun and has done for longer than I could have imagined. Coming on the heels of the recent console release of Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2, Strikeforce takes its portable warriors in a slightly different direction.

This different direction being a new focus on cooperative multiplayer for up to four players, although it’s exclusively through ad-hoc which probably went down much better in Japan than it will here in the west. We played the game in two player cooperative and I’m happy to say that it was very smooth, lots of fun and still largely as brainless as the last one, the one before that and the millions before.

The actual fighting does have its differences though. There’s now a basic lock-on command, allowing you to keep your perspective on a particular target, it’s also possible to quickly switch to the most threatening enemy by pressing up on the D-pad. There’s sky combat in this as well, which brings to mind the over the top silliness of anime. Finally, the Musou gauge has been replaced by the Fury gauge, which basically allows you to activate a more powerful version of yourself, but Musou fans needn’t despair, as it’s also possible to unleash these powerful attacks whilst in this state.

Speaking of attacks, each player carries two weapons into battle, which can be switched between to string combos together. Most of the enemies seem to have come from a production line of thick-headed warriors, although, as always, the officers are generally smarter, whilst some basically have longer power bars and block every now and then, others actually present some form of challenge. Then, of course, there’s the new boss battles featuring gigantic creatures to deal with.

Moving on, enemies obviously don’t come in the huge numbers that they do in modern console releases in the series, whilst the battlefields, much like the game itself, are more compact. Battlefields may be smaller, though they’re less flat, making ascension a more regular occurrence.

When you’re not butchering (it’s clean kills here, with limbs staying very much attached and not a drop of blood spilt) people on the battlefield, you’ll be back in the city. Here, you can buy items, craft new weapons from the materials you find, and attach orbs to your weapons and chi to your body for added perks. It’s also possible to upgrade shops by equipping officer cards, eventually giving you access to better weapons and items.

Multiplayer has all the players entering a city, simply by choosing the multiplayer mode from the menu screen. Obviously, players can still do all the above, but when you’ve finished doing whatever you were doing, it’s possible to choose a mission and then to wait for other players to join you before moving out in a group.

The problem is that the game doesn’t seem to scale in difficulty, depending on the number of people playing, which is quite the oversight. Some missions seem like they have been designed with four players in mind for example, meaning it will be much tougher if you’re playing alone or even in a duo. This could have been remedied by including intelligent (if they were stupid, we’d be back at square one) AI-controlled buddies in the vacant non-player slots, but it just wasn’t to be. Well, at least you can do some level grinding to make yourself stronger.

Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce certainly has its flaws, although it is also is a lot of fun and has some refreshing features for a Dynasty Warriors game. If you’re thinking about the purchase, if at all possible, I would suggest that you find another two or three people with PSP’s and the game to play with, as multiplayer is obviously where the focus lies.

Perhaps a trip to Japan would be worthwhile.