Dynasty Warriors, as a series, is hit or miss. I enjoy most of the games but they're stale, button-mashy affairs that suffer from a much needed enema. However, Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires got their strange blend of features exactly right, and strengthened a bond of friendship between myself and my good friend Ross.
Game play and co-op magic follows the jump.
I pick and choose my Dynasty Warriors games. Gundam 2. Dynasty Warriors 4. Fist Of The North Star: Ken's Rage. Samurai Warriors 2 Empires (an article in itself). I tested them carefully, weeding them out from the chaff and only keeping the good games after strenuous testing. Buying them used just in case, so I could return'em fast.
I bought Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires on a whim, new, the day it came out. Took it home, gave it a spin. The game's opening was classically awesome, a hallmark of the series as a whole. But the game play astounded me. It was a thin layer of region hopping strategy, built right on top of the Dynasty Warriors engine. The cherry on top of that cake? It's the first Dynasty Warriors coop game with character creation. And it is very...very robust.
Did I mention all of the DLC for this game is free? Including new costumes, music and mission packs. It was incredibly well supported post release. So let's get into the game play: typical button mash fest, yeah? Of course it is, and to a degree that simplicity is what makes Dynasty Warriors so great! But then there's the cards you can use to change certain battle conditions (like setting enemy bases on fire, or getting more cash to spend on upgrades). Oh, and then there's the special moves you can level up, and the weapons you can place magical effects on, and the Council meetings where you can challenge your commander, or even betray him mid battle and attempt to take over his army to lead it yourself. And when you start a new game, you can have any custom officers in your army that you've made, as powerful as they are in their save game! It's such a finely crafted system of custom content, item use and region control...and with six levels of difficulty you can play it over and over, through four scripted scenarios or a custom "Conquer it all!" mode. My jaw hit the floor as the features piled up. But it only gets better.
Coop, like for chickens. It's how we in my apartment pronounce "Co-Operative". Coop is our lifeblood here. Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires has split-screen Coop play. Once as I was playing I invited my roommate Ross to join me. Ross works odd hours and I'm still in school so we get rare windows to interact at times. Well this time we played Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires...and we were hooked. Soon we were living out an elaborate emergent narrative in which our officers were marrying for power, and planning to leave our leader. He wielded a massive stone column, a fierce female warrior with a fever for destruction. I was an aged farmer, no hero himself but held up by his army as a messiah, a leader who would overthrow the evil rulers of China. We played the game for hours, applying strategies and tactics, button mashing and laughing. It was marvelous.
After a while we stopped playing together, and I went ahead alone. I created another warrior, a mysterious princess with an armored mask for a face, and a blade twice as long as she was. The feeling of planning attacks, navigating armies then diving into the action was awesome. And the end cut scene of the game is played out using your custom officer, exactly as they look when you conquer the last territory.
I could go back into this game at any time, and have the most subliming of experiences. It's easy to play, fun to play, good looking and friendship strengthening. Isn't that what we all love about this hobby?