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Dynasty Warriors 5 review

The battle may be raging, but PSM2's adrenaline certainly isn't...

In the five years since Dynasty Warriors first appeared on PS2, Grand Theft Auto has made the transition from crummy 2D streets to epic 3D countryside, Metal Gear Solid has perfected the action set-piece to an almost fine art and hardware has evolved to such an extent that we can sit in our pants and play TimeSplitters with 46-year-olds called Mr Spliftron from Finland. Dynasty Warriors? Well, er, the draw distance has improved a bit.

Sequel after sequel we tell ourselves, "It'll be different this time." And sequel after sequel, very little changes. But would abandoning tradition be abandoning the very thing that makes a Koei game a Koei game?

They love historical accuracy. Even the company's CEO, Keiko Erikawa, is mental for a bit of Romance of the Three Kingdoms (the book upon which the DW games are based) and insists all Koei games are in some way authentic.

But this authenticity only stretches to names and dates. Not once in Chinese history did a single man wearing a big silver hat kill two thousand other men with a magic spear.

But it still feels like playing through a history lesson nonetheless and - after having played through countless DW, Samurai Warriors, Kessen and Romance of the Three Kingdoms titles - it's all a bit tedious now. It was good the first couple of times, but seven thousand games later, we've finally had our fill of Huang Zhong, musou attacks and magic shoes.

They have made some changes this year, although as ever, they're barely worth mentioning - the fundamentals are exactly the same. Firstly, they've ditched the fogging that reviewers have been damning since the beginning of time.

This should be good news, but it merely reveals what the fog was trying to hide in the first place. This means that instead of fogging, there's now dreadful pop-up and fuzzy 'backgrounds' that are essentially just vaguely mountain-shaped silhouettes.

They needn't have bothered - even if the draw distance was so deep that you were able to see a gnat landing on Gan Ning's magic plimsolls from ten thousand yards away, it'd still be boring old Dynasty Warriors. We want prominent gameplay changes, Koei.

They've included the 'stronghold' system from Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires, but that's more of a distraction than anything else and needlessly increases the already outrageous time it takes to complete a level. Yes, once again you'll be relentlessly slamming men around for upwards of 50 minutes. It's almost as if they want repetition to set in.

We'd continue, but it'd just depress us. We're sick of Dynasty Warriors, at least in its current form, and we wish they'd done more with it. Look at it this way; we'll give you one more chance, Koei. One more chance to do something good with the series and win our cold, hard hearts back. Until then, we're no longer on speaking terms.

Dynasty Warriors 5 is released for PS2 on 24 June

More Info

DescriptionThough hardly the fifth in the series, Dynasty Warriors 5 can still deliver an enjoyable bout of deja vu to hardcore fans.
PlatformXbox, PS2, Xbox 360
US censor ratingTeen
Release date13 September 2005 (US), 13 September 2005 (UK)