Dynasty Warriors NEXT
Harness the power of Speed Musou in Tecmo Koei's portable button masher.
Playing Dynasty Warriors NEXT brings to mind the opening scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the one where Sauron swings his mace and several dudes go flying. If anything, the game does a fine job boosting one's ego with hundreds of enemies that seem more interested in dying than fighting, and when things get crazy, you simply unleash a Musou Attack, where your character channels magic to flatten the opposition.
To that end, this title follows the same basic formula that exists in all Dynasty Warriors games. Expect to run around a giant map capturing bases, mashing buttons to decimate the A.I. driven hordes. That's a nice way of saying if you grew tired of or dislike the franchise, NEXT probably won't convert you, though we give Tecmo Koei credit for adding some interesting features that help separate this title from its many predecessors.
Most of what's new centers around the touch screen and gyroscope. You activate the new Speed Musou attack, for example, by touching the right and left sides of Vita's five-inch screen, then either swiping the screen repeatedly or gently (and we mean gently) shaking the system.
We'll stop short of calling this revolutionary, but it's cool. We prefer the interaction compared to simply pressing both triggers, since doing this over the latter provides a great sense of empowerment. Soldiers being a pain? Don't make us tap that screen. Don't you dare make us tap that screen.
In addition, the game has Sudden Encounters, surprise attacks that transition from a third to first person perspective. One such Encounter lets you physically maneuver the system using the built-in gyroscope to "frame" enemies within the vicinity, then quickly press these lowlifes to kill them. Another one features archers that fire arrows in your direction, forcing you to knock the projectiles down.
Again, nothing super exciting, but it does help break the monotony, which is alive and well. You literally move from point to point performing the same attacks for upwards of 30 minutes to an hour (a Direct Break helps us instantly capture the current base and move on), and with most enemies failing to put up much of a fight, the challenge in the early stages is minimal (we suggest bumping up the difficulty). At one point, we dozed off, only to wake up and see our chosen warrior standing perfectly still amongst a small number of bad guys who apparently felt the need to rest.
Of course, if things grow too repetitive, you can always team up with three other friends via Ad Hoc to form a four person tag team. As you'll discover, it's best to lay the smack down with some buddies.
On top of that, the game features 65 different heroes, as well as an Edit mode where you create new characters and customize them.
It's also cool to see a game like this on a handheld. Granted, Dynasty Warriors appeared on PSP, but NEXT looks superior, with beautifully detailed heroes and villains, along with cool special effects during Speed Musou attacks and what appear to be well over a hundred characters on screen, with only short (barely noticeable) drops in performance. The backgrounds don't impress, but that's the price you pay for having so much going on.
As we said, this is still Dynasty Warriors, even with the touch screen commands and gyroscope shenanigans. It's mindless to a fault, where eventually, you just want the mission over with. At the same time, this is exactly the type of experience hardcore DW fans want, and for these people, NEXT delivers.
Review copy provided by Tecmo Koei.
What's Hot: Destroying so many guys at once, cool Speed Musou attacks that work with Vita's touch screen/gyroscope, local multiplayer, Edit mode, Sudden Encounters.
What's Not: Extremely repetitive, mindless enemies, bland backgrounds.