Nov 6, 2007
Bladestorm's smartest trick is in looking and walking just enough like an action game to draw in the Dynasty Warriors nuts, all the while barking like a real-time strategy game. Battles are fought around control points, with the campaign adjusting depending on whether you side with the UK or the dastardly French in a uniquely Japanese take on The Hundred Years War, complete with a foxy Joan of Arc, girly Black Prince, wizards, elephants, and battles fought by mercenary armies. You'll be given an objective and set loose on the battlefield; from there, it's up to you.
Taking control of the nearest regiment with a tap of A, you'll lead them to war and fight alongside them. The tactical options are limited, but your Dynasty Warriors One Man War nonsense won't cut any mustard against the armies in Bladestorm. Throwing horses at men armed with spears will just make for another steak on the Frogs' barbecue; far better to recruit that group of archers and pick them off from afar before switching to cavalry for the charge against their defensive lines.
Still, even this is just a refinement of Koei's Kessen 3 on the PS2, and not especially refined, at that: it looks and sounds better than any Dynasty Warriors title but hardly pushes the 360 to the edge of its capabilities. Yet the premise is so simple and so compelling (putting you into the thick of the action in a real-time strategy game) that you have to admire how well it works. Well you don't have to, but still.
Bladestorm's problem is that its smartest trick is also its only trick - it's a very simple game built on simple scissors/paper/stone combat. The strategic options are limited and every battle over the lengthy campaign plays out in a fairly similar manner - but it's a manner that bit us and wouldn't let go. Much like, er, a dog.