Shin

Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires

Console: Playstation 2
Game type: Hack and Slash, Tactical
Developer: Koei
Number of players: 1-2
Languages: English/Japanese

Presentation:
70/100

Introduction:
50/100
Not much at all. I loaded her up expecting some great intro like the past games, but was treated to something rather short and blaise really. This is explained however as before in past games you could unlock and edit the opening movie(like Soul Calibur) but not in this one.

Demonstration:
60/100
Nothing too special again. Just some in game battles between empires as well as showing off the versus mode.

Menu:
100/100
Simple, and eyecatching/pleasing. With the ever helpful info placed below screen for any confusion. Doesnt do anything wrong, does most everything right.

Visuals:
85/100

Detail:
80/100
Blessedly any company that rehashes the same characters to you over learns that to keep any part of the market they gotta have detail. And like the past games you wont be dissapointed. In the newest iteration its all about the details. Well maybe its nicer to say its all about the “lil people”. Oddly enough in normal gameplay the number of variant costumes has gone down, but the real draw and tie in to the eye is the improved character creation menu which gives a lil bit less than a plethora of options for you characters. Added into this is the “movesets” now opened up to your edit character. Whereas in previous games you had a small few to select from, now you can make or use any characters weapon animations. So indeed, creating a small tiny girl with a Giant Hammer is both fun AND amusing to the eye and gameplay. They paid enough attention to model in different colored underwear on certain female models…not that you would even notice this kind of thing…normally…

Animation:
100/100
Top notch, but then again Koei has had years to perfect this and these characters style and movesets. Everything is poety in motion, with the welcome addition of you know, slaughtering thousands of enemy troops.

Frame Rate:
75/100
I am sad somewhat to give this out, but the truth hurts and so does the framerate at times. It almost seems like a stepback from previous games, but i imagine its mostly due to the idea that more is more and the game throwing thousands of more soldiers at you than before. So there will be times(plentiful times) where you will find yourself suddenly dropped into the matrix and slowly, ever so slowly killing or swinging through the bodies or future corpses of many soldiers. Blessedly it ends quickly if your strong enough. The enemys are not as bad as the framerate. Otherwise its smooth sailing. But since FIGHTING is the key focus of the game, when it happens only in fighting its rather tiresome.

Audio:
85/100
The usual good tunes. Continuing the work from 3 and 4 the games soundtracks are a hybrid of classical and modern instruments reproducing classical music(classical chinese, etc). Good stuff overall, but not enough new tunes to make you stand up and notice it from the previous games which had much of the same.

Playability:
90/100

Controls:
100/100
Simple, effective and a damn near staple and benchmark for beat-em up/hack and slash games. One button to smash them, one button to bash them, and in the darkness bind them….er… The controls havnt changed one bit, and even the greenest player can pick them up in minutes. You have your normal attacks, which when pressed repeatedly will chain into a set combo pattern pertaining to characters/weapons. You also have a “charge” button that when pressed in conjucntion with your attack will unleash musou attacks of varying degree. From launchers into the air, to stuns, and just hurting everything around you its as simple as 1-2-3. You have a button to block, a button to jump, and then your all set to kick some ass ancient chinese…japanese…videogame style. Hmm. Well at least the controls are more simple than the odd context of the games.

Single-Player:
100/100
Ka-ching. Well i say Ka-ching, but i imagine Koei is more akin to the laughing to the bank, as this is another venture into the land of the ass-kicking which has made them so popular. The singleplayer is damn nice, especially in this incarnation. Empires throws a wonderful tactical edge in this game, and while the core of the game functions and works with the usual hacking and slashing, the actual running and playful interaction of the most joy will be done in the tactical Empire you are given. This is done in one of two ways. Both work on the same principal however. You have a large map of Ancient China, divied up among various warlords, and of course yourself. The simple but ultimately engaging goal is to conquer or unite all of china under your banner. Each territory is strategically linked to others, and produces and has its own distinct merits. Unlike in past games one doesnt merely find the items he will use in the game on the map, he has his provinces create them for his use. Also they are one time only, and then the province has to bust out another one.(which is only a turn or two, four at the most). This leads to some hard planning, thinking, and the kinda risk-like atmosphere any would be Dictator-For-Life would love. You can try its two flavors of Historical or Fictional. Historical places the important figures in the correct positions of power just at the end of the Han Dynastys fall, and leaves the rest up to you. You can play as one of the great heros of legend, or merely carve your own path amongst the famous backdrops. Historical awards you with the prospect of unlocking cutscenes and sequences as you progress. Some historical(such as Xiahou Dun losing his eye, or Dian Wei giving his life for CaoCao to escape an ambush), and some just eycandy(like LuBu the ol softy asking DiaoChan never to leave his side). Fictional is just like it sounds. The territorys are populated randomly, and also can have edit characters under NPC control.Singeplayer definately gets the most play, and joy.

Multi-Player:
80/100
You have a few choices here. You can co-op on some hacking and slashing, or go directly against each other, mano e mano. The game gives you various challenges and games to do this, and they range from simple work such as who can knock the most enemys out, to item races and so forth. Not as all time consuming as the singleplayer, but your friends will get tired of your Ruler Conan conquering China and trodding the jeweled thrones of the earth beneath his feet eventually.

Loadtime:
90/100
Minor PS2 normal loadtime. Real minor though, barely a bother.

Lastability:
100/100
Well i cant honestly give this less than a hundred score. Id be immediatly outshone by the simple concept that Koei has given consumers the SAME game over and over to a million dollar tune of consumers BUYING it over and over. And i cant talk. Im one of those consumers. Really its that good. You unlock new features as you go, and the singleplayer will keep you coming back again and again.

Concept:
70/100
BOO, how dare DZ0 give a bad score. But come on im being nice. Theres nothing really that original here, or special. Its just another golden gem from an already well established series. The concept hasnt gotten any better, it merely has proven that it is still good as it was. They gave us a lil innovation with the battles and the map screen, as well as the conquering china tactically, but its still the same LuBu kill-fest it always was deep down inside.
Story:
70/100
Again bad DZ0. I COULD argue about the historical relavence, or the modern day popularity of a thousands year old series of books and how great they are to spawn a game series, but id rather talk about whats IN this game. And as great as the universe, and backstorys and all is there isnt much of it ACTUALLY in the game. They give you a nice dictionary of sorts to make up for this, but honestly i wasnt expecting them to shove a lot of story into this tactical wonder. The idea is to forge your own story, and as such the “real” storys are kinda not there.

Addiction:
100/100
This is like lastability. Id be a horrible hypocrite if i said otherwise. This is a second expansion to the “4th” of a game series of which each previous iteration at the least had one “Extrem” expansion to the game. So SOMONE is addicted to these games, and i think its the american market.

Secrets:
70/100
Sad DZ0. Most of the secrets are nice, but not the kinda stuff you actually feel as if you have earned. In this game you unlock the ability to edit and alter the ending movie as you see fit(whereas it was the opening before). You unlock new scenes and themes as you go along, but its not really hard, or very secretive, and when its all said and done its still only an ending, not a nifty opening sequence you can leave alone so anyone who turns on the game can see it. Though some of the scenes are outright hilarious(the Game of Go comes to mind, as well as putting big male macho characters into a flower picking scene), its just not the kind of stuff to make you want to get them all.

Total: 90/100

Final verdict:
Koei shoots, and they score. Even after i already own every other incarnation of the games, which by simple logic make every version before it obtuse and worthless, making me a very brilliant man for buying every single one when it comes out.><
Its Tactical work, where the planning of a genuis can still get down to the battlefield and swing his sword like the rest of his underpaid and no health benefits soldiers. Its enough of the old, and new to make any fan of the series want it, and its cheap. Cheap as hell. 30 bucks new. 30 BUCKS. With news of games reaching new high prices as the videogame markets test out new pricing systems this is one game you can afford to test out without worrys of breaking your budget.(plus you can make an edit character and name her (.)(.), just to see the mighty ASCI Boob army fare in ancient china, and thats just quality right there)

Overall: All the bang for your buck, and it smells nice too.

By Darknight Z0

Work in progress... not home!
Trying to get all/most of the new code working before I start on the eyecandy.