Review by !.ACA.!

Reviewed: 05/04/02 | Updated: 05/04/02

A … This game is quite a rare thing for the PlayStation 2: a great game for two players.

This game is quite a rare thing for the PlayStation 2: a great game for two players.

Dynasty Warriors 3 is perhaps one of the few PlayStation 2 games (that does not involve a sport or first-person shooting) that two players can enjoy. The PS2 offers many great single-player experiences (Grand Theft Auto III, Devil May Cry, Metal Gear Solid 2… the list goes on), yet it lacks in the amount of good, solid two player games.

Dynasty Warriors 3 begins to fill that void, by offering a two player experience that offers the fun of the old, classic two player action-fighters (like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 on the NES) and adds in many RPG elements.

The game occurs in real, ancient Chinese history. Of course, you wouldn’t want to study this game for your next history test—KOEI (the game’s producers) have taken certain liberties in creating the game. There is a magician, for instance, that uses magical powers.

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms—a popular series that most Japanese gamers would know a great deal about—is the basis for this game, and if you’re interested in the series, it makes the game so much better. Knowing about the three kingdoms (Wu, Wei, and Shu) allows the gamer to really get to know each of the kingdoms’ generals.

The kingdoms’ various generals are the playable characters. There are about a dozen for you to choose from when you first play the game, but as you complete missions you’ll earn more. Each general is basically the same, though, because each one has a standard attack, a charged attack, a bow and some arrows, the ability to jump, and an extremely powerful Musou attack (which can be executed after you take or deal a certain amount of damage).

Where these generals differ, however, is in their weapons and their stats. Different generals use different weapons, ranging from long swords to battle fans to giant axes. Generals (both male and female, incase you’re wondering) have different stats. Some characters have more health than others, but their attack power is lower. Still others have a powerful Musou attack, but are not as strong defensively. Each character is seemingly balanced.

The game allows for RPG growth, which happens to be one of the best features in the game. As you win battles, you level up, gain new weapons (providing you could find one on the battlefield), and become stronger. You can also find items, which are often hidden in pots or boxes. Some items allow you to jump higher, while others allow you to shoot fiery arrows.

As your character levels up, he is given a higher ranking status, and he commands his own little legion, or bodyguards that can be customized to use swords, axes, crossbows, pikes, spears, or any other weapon you can think of.

So much can be said before you even begin to get on the battlefield. You can see the history of the battle you’re about to embark on, check out the generals who are in today’s fight, or, in some cases, you can even choose what side you want to fight against!

Once on the battlefield, you’ll notice a few major problems, yet you’ll be amazed by some of the things at the same type. The first glaring problem is the voice acting: it’s terrible. You might just have to pause the game you’ll be laughing so hard. Ugh. Luckily, there is an options menu where you can set whether you want to use Japanese voices or American voices. Although the game is set in China, not Japan, the voices seem to add realism to the situation. Call it what you want, it’s really American ignorance to the difference between China and Japan. But it’s worth setting the voices to Japan for a more authentic adventure. Don’t worry, all the text will still be in English, so you’ll know what’s going on.

Dynasty Warriors 3 also has a glaring issue of fogging, which is generally used to hide draw distances. The battles will seem foggy when there are too many warriors on the screen, just a little programming “trick” so that the unused onscreen graphics don’t necessarily have to be shown on screen. It’s not too bad, but it is definitely noticeable.

You might notice the background music to be American, hardcore rock. Guitars, drums, and everyone’s favorite mix of both comprise of the music in Dynasty Warriors 3. While this seems just a tad (who am I kidding, it is ENTIRELY) out of place, it does add for some intense, adrenaline pumping moments.

To actually fight, you’ll need to pay close attention to the map. This is more than just “kill Man A, go to Point B, find Item C, and repeat.” You won’t want to waste your time fighting the seemingly endless supply of privates when you could be taking on the big guys, the generals, captains, or even the majors. One quick glance at the map will alert you to the locations of all the important generals so you can seek them out. Remove a general from the battle and his small legion will run away or seek revenge. In either case, they are much weaker without their commander’s leadership.

Killing your enemies is done by a standard, charge, or special attack—or combos combining all three. For example, try standard, standard, charge and you might throw your weapon at the enemy. Standard, standard, standard, special will lead you into a stronger special attack. The combos are generally the same for each character, but they are different just enough to hold your interest. Combos can string out over five buttons long, which really adds more fun to the game.

Horses, and even war elephants, can be found in several levels, usually commanded by many famous characters like Cao Cao, Liu Bei or Lu Bu. Again, fans of the series will undoubtedly appreciate these famous generals. If you can manage to knock a general off of his horse, or elephant, you could possibly ride it, increasing your speed at least fourfold in most cases.

These battles all have certain conditions for victory, such as killing one leader or preventing another leader from escaping from your forces. The battles occur in one of several modes, including free mode, versus mode, and a dynasty-type mode.

The free mode allows you to level you character up, while the versus mode allows you to duel another player. The dynasty mode, or Musou Mode, begins a quest through the battles. It’s the heart of the game. All modes are generally two-player, which is truly awesome. It’s fun to tear through an army with another player, teaming up on the generals or splitting the work evenly. The horizontal split-screen isn’t perfect (you will definitely notice excessive fogging), but it is very fun and is the true meat of the game.

In the end, Dynasty Warriors 3 is really a game to own if you are looking for some serious two-player action on the PlayStation 2. Its repetitive fighting is overshadowed by its deep strategy, awesome customization, and epic two player mode. Don’t expect ground breaking visuals or audio, but do expect some great game play and value with over twenty stages and forty characters.

Game Stats:
Players: One or Two
Genre: Action
Cost: $49.99

B … Presentation (Menus, Manuals, and Finishing Touches)

B … Graphics

D + … Audio

A … Game Play and Story

A … Camera and Control

A + … Value (Replay and Cost)

A … Final Grade

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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