Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires PS2 Review

The Dynasty Warriors series has largely been about one thing and that’s beating up a whole army of men with funny names and equally funny beards. There is some light strategy involved, but there’s certainly been nothing deep about the series thus far, until now that is with Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires which allows you to take over China with thought as well as the usual brawn.

The standout thing about empires is its primary mode of play: Empire mode, which allows you to build your very own empire, by taking over areas of China, depicted by a map, allowing you to more or less choose which order you wish to attempt to take the 24 regions in. Taking areas of the map will gain you money with which you can hire captured enemy officers and such as well as pay your generals and lieutenants to carry out certain tasks such as persuading an enemy officer to join your ranks, hiring units amongst other things. This adds depth to the game and will please people who enjoyed the fast and furious combat but yearned for more strategic elements as an inclusion.

Things get more familiar, when you actually get on the battlefield where all the usual Dynasty Warriors elements are present. You’ll do battle with troops in the hundreds, who may be about as thick as two short planks but having about thirty warriors on the screen at a time is nevertheless undeniably impressive. The devastating Musou attacks have returned, allowing you to cut through masses of troops similarly to a knife through butter. Unsurprisingly all of this can get very repetitive if you are to play for any sustained periods of time, so short sessions are advised if boredom is to be avoided.

Once China is yours, you could always go through the game again with another army or play the moderately fun multiplayer modes instead. Sadly any form of cooperative play has been omitted this time around, but there are still some fairly nice competitive modes to get your sword into, which range from simple kill fests, where the winner is decided by the amount of kills once the timer has expired to fetch competitions where you must find items and take them to a merchant amongst a few others, which should keep the fans playing a while after completion of the Empire mode.

Empires is by no means a graphically impressive game to the eye, but as we’ve already said, masses of decently detailed troops on the screen at one time is pretty impressive, sadly to the cost of the detail in the battlefields however. These are bland and largely devoid of any sort of objects as well as being shrouded in fog to mask the pop up, but on the good side, there’s a fairly beautiful sunset effect on some stages and the elaborately armoured playable characters are exceptionally detailed. Voice acting is expectedly cheesy, as is the somewhat inappropriate rock music, which however still manages to both work and appeal.

Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires slightly more thoughtful approach is pleasing and thankfully never gets in the way of the all-important “beating up people” aspect of gameplay. If played for lengthy periods, it may very well have the potential to become massively dull, but played in relatively short bursts this is good fun and the perfect game to play after a particularly hard day.