The most recent portable incarnation of the Dynasty Warriors franchise lives up the traditions of its ancestors with the usual sword-slashing action, fantastic attacks and repetitive button mashing we've come to expect and enjoy. Doesn't do much new, though.
Dynasty Warriors Vol. 2 features the fairly brainless slaughter of hordes of ancient Chinese baddies - clearly evil, because they're not from the clan you selected. They'll be good next time, when you choose someone else - periodically pausing between battles so you can apply relatively simple strategic moves on a regional campaign map.
You select from dozens of warlords dressed in elaborate, often frilly costumes armed with sharp and pointy weapons to lead supporting officers and minions on a quest to defend your territory by destroying opponents' morale with a continual barrage of attacks.
Pick the wrong route and your bases might be overtaken, supplies depleted or you could be hopelessly surrounded, each of which will destroy your allies' morale and, in turn, result in utter defeat.
DW2 offers a few changes to its predecessor while also maintaining its detailed character designs, spectacular particle effects, heavy rockin' soundtrack and simplistic gameplay.
The action doesn't chug much when too many soldiers cluster onscreen, as the first game did - but there's a trade-off. It appears that the distance you can see has decreased, causing most opponents to snap into sight just before they are a pole's poke away.
Besides the standard Musou attacks, which release pent-up power on your opponents, you can now also cash in mid-level experience points to unleash a Wolverine-style Musou Rage, making your hands glow and your attacks more damaging.
The biggest addition is a multiplayer mode that offers four competitive mini games - Bombs Away, Time Attack, Sudden death and Battle Royal - yet there is still not the long-haul co-operative Musou (story) mode typically found in the console games.
Unfortunately, a few of the annoyances from the first DW PSP game have also carried over. The camera angle and positioning of your warrior makes it difficult to see opponents who are not directly in front of you, forcing you to rely on the mini area map to avoid opponents sneaking up to get in a few cheap, game-ending hits.
Winning every battle also does not guarantee your domination of the entire region. Go your own way on the larger map or help the wrong ally and your opponents may simply pick an alternate route of destruction or your timed supplies may unexpectedly run out.
Both handheld releases lack the mid-level replenishment items found throughout the console DW games, though you can activate a few officers' special abilities for improved stats and special attacks.
DW2 has just enough improvements to make it smoother and slightly more enjoyable than its predecessor. It is a decent portable hack-and-slash game that will provide many days of fun for fans and, a usual, a couple hours of fun followed by complete frustration for everyone else.