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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Koei

Ups: Insane numbers of enemies; cool old-China vibe; riding horses and bowling for soldiers. 

Downs:  Lots of button mashing; way too short.

System Reqs:
Sony PlayStation 2

dw215-01.jpg (3920 bytes)The premise is simple. Grab a big axe, sword, or spear, charge blindly into an entire army of enemy troops Braveheart style, and proceed to hack them all bits until every enemy soldier quits twitching. Begin screaming obscenities at your TV while shouting that your invincible. Find the enemy officer and engage in brutal one-on-one combat while an entire war rages around you. After you brutalize the offending officer, jump on his horse and storm through his army. Run down his pitifully armed peasants, trampling some, butchering others. The winner will ultimately control China. The premise is rad. The premise is beautiful.

dw217-01.jpg (4844 bytes)In fact, the premise is so cool that it’s amazing no one has done it before. It’s amazing until you realize that never before has the technological prowess existed on a console to make this game really work. When I say you charge into the enemy army, I mean the entire army. There’s hordes of warriors fighting all around you. If you finish the first level without personally waxing at least seven hundred enemy soldiers then you just aren’t viscous enough. Gone are the days where two or three enemies come on screen at once, taking turns at you. In Dynasty Warriors 2, if you charge into an army you’ll be surrounded by twenty enemies with scores more standing in line waiting for a whack at you. Fortunately for you, you have an entire army at your back. Unfortunately for them, you probably won’t need it.

dw221-01.jpg (4393 bytes)All the splendor of having many characters on the screen doing many different things didn’t stop Dynasty Warriors 2 from having great character models. The characters look good, and no matter how many people were on-screen at once, I never experienced any slowdown. When the action gets too intense you may notice some of the characters disappearing into the background, but it’s very subtle and it never happens to characters that your fighting. If it gets wild enough for this fade out to happen it means things are ultra intense and so chaotic that the fade out doesn’t look that out of place. It looks more like some kind of berserker tunnel vision and I didn’t find it distracting at all.

dw222-01.jpg (3785 bytes)You have three basic attacks at your disposal for dispatching the enemy horde. A light but fast attack, a slow but powerful attack that can knock down any number of soldiers who get in its path, and a special attack that’s used when things get really crazy. The first two attack buttons can be combined to produce various combos. In addition you can stand back and shoot arrows to pick off your opponents from far off. You can also mount horses during battle and ride down troops while fighting from horseback. This is not only highly effective, but awesome to watch. A horse can’t run over a character that’s as powerful as you are. When you try, the horse will rear up and you’re prone to being knocked off.

dw233-01.jpg (4425 bytes)Let me clear something up right now. Dynasty Warriors is not a strategy game. It’s an arcade game with strategic-looking maps and the occasional strategic element thrown in. You’re not commanding any troops, so you can’t exactly outwit your opponent. If the scenario demands that you be outwitted by the enemy general, you will be able to solve the problem by riding to the offending battle site and single-handedly massacring the enemy troops.

dw234-01.jpg (4092 bytes)As you complete stages you advance stats for attack, defense, and life. You also gain rank advancements that determine how many bodyguards you get and how powerful they are. During the beginning stages it’s a good idea not to get too far ahead of your troops. If you get cut off from your reinforcements, you’ll probably be overwhelmed by the shear number of enemy troops. You can leave the main game mode after any battle and engage in the free mode, which allows you to replay any of the battles. You can then earn experience on these levels to make advancing in the game mode easier. Once your character is buffed out and has eight ultra powerful bodyguards you can pretty much go win the war by yourself. Well not quite, but almost.

The entire game is only five battles long, and each battle has a maximum time limit of one hundred minuets. There are three different clans to choose, and each clan participates in a slightly different battle schedule. Initially each clan has three members, but a total of nineteen different heroes can be found in the game.

For all the really great things in Dynasty Warriors 2, there are a few shortcomings as well. The first is repetition. There’s not a whole lot of variety, and this is exasperated by the fact that you may have to replay a level to advance your stats before you can advance farther in the game. Your thumb will get a work out. I guarantee you’ll be feeling the burn unless your thumbs are in prime condition. Another drawback is that your troops aren’t very smart. Actually your troops are incredibly dumb. They spend a lot of time just standing around when they should be out winning the war. A "rally to me" button would have been awesome. It would have solved their stupidity problem and it would have looked cool as hell.

Dynasty Warriors is a great arcade game, a technical masterpiece, and a joy to play. Just realize that to really get into it you will have to be able to handle the near endless amounts of hack and slash and your thumbs will undergo a grueling workout. If you’re the kind of arcade fan who, like me, enjoys laying out the beat down on an entire army, then Dynasty Warriors 2 is a can’t miss title. If you are looking for strategy, check out Kessen instead.

--Jeff Luther