Sept 27, 2007
Let's assume for a moment that you love McDonald's Big Macs - it's not tough, right? That is one delicious burger. Also, pretend that one Big Mac lasts forever. Finally, imagine that every time you walked into a McDonald's, they shouted at you "The Big Mac is new and improved and better than ever!" And so you get all excited and buy the latest one, only to discover that it's the same exact thing with only some teeny, tiny variation - like, the relish is chunkier or the buns have 5% more sesame seeds. You'd be ticked off, and rightfully so. And eventually, you might even tire of Big Macs, yummy as they are, because they just don't ever change that much and you have fifteen of them at home already.
The point of this lesson in fast-food? This tweak-but-not-actually-change strategy is what publisher Koei is pulling two or three times a year with its Chinese-themed Dynasty Warriors hack-and-slasher franchise. Every new game is such a tiny evolution of the last that there's rarely any reason to upgrade to it. And with Warriors Orochi, Koei continues the trend, combining the stagnant Dynasty Warriors franchise with its clone (the offshoot Samurai Warriors franchise) to create a third near-identical slaughter-armies-by-hand franchise.
Yes, you get characters from ancient China and feudal Japan intermingling - whoa! - and you can merge two weapons together to get one more powerful weapon and swap a team of three human slaughter machines in and out of battle instead of just guiding one - that's actually a really nice touch. But this is still basically you slicing and dicing your way through roughly two zillion enemies, 99% of whom all look more or less alike and fight as if they're sleepwalking.
You'll still wish the levels were more intricate, the enemies smarter, the mounts more varied and useful. You'll still wonder who would win the battle if your character just ran around and didn't do anything, or why so many of your forces just stand there instead of following and helping you. You'll still wish your character had more than a few basic attacks, or that there was even a hint of strategy involved here. You still won't care about the story unless you're actually Chinese and into historical fiction. And even though there are three classes now (Speed, Power, and Technique) you'll probably still think to yourself, "There are 77 playable characters in this game... yet 90% of them play exactly like someone else."
In other words, you'll still get bored - not because this isn't a solid game (it is) - but because it's the same solid game you've been playing since Dynasty Warriors 2 came out back in 2000. The graphics aren't that hot either, especially for 360 owners used to next-gen lighting and animations, so that's not enough to keep you playing when things get monotonous. If you simply must have this type of game, or if you've never played one before, you can have some fun with Warriors Orochi. Just wait until February and pick it up used - it'll feel just as fresh then as it does now, we promise.