Dynasty Warriors review

We explore the portable version of Koei's huge tactical action franchise

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The selling power of the Dynasty Warriors franchise is such that its flaws have been heaped over with relentless statistics upgrades until they became quirks.

That history seemed set to make the PSP version the embodiment of an ill-advised, over-familiar switch, and in some respects, that's exactly how it feels - but in others it shows a real appreciation of its new environment.

Most obvious is the portrayal of battlefields as a series of decisive skirmishes. Each scenario is presented as a strategic grid, with the objective to press through to the opponent's home castle within a time.

Entering an area with an enemy presence initiates battle, and routing the enemy forces strengthens your army's influence on surrounding areas.

It provides a welcome alternative to the battle fatigue of previous games, and introduces more deliberate strategies of sapping enemy resources before committing to button-mashing. The time limit prevents straying too far from the sequence of conflicts, though.

From that promising setup, however, it collapses in the heat of battle. Nearly a third of PSP's screen is filled by a clumsy status display, clipping the peripheral vision that would have been so useful in the chaos of a Dynasty scrum.

Even with concessions of a drastically reduced draw distance and crowd numbers, you're constantly attacked from behind or off-screen, wedged between your own generals and scenery, or assaulted by phantom platoons that pop in and out of existence.

Penultimate battle areas are usually afflicted by choking slowdown, and more disconcertingly, the game occasionally fails to register button presses - prompting a moment of horrible realisation that the PSP face buttons cannot withstand Dynasty-grade mashing.

If some of these flaws smack of a rushed development, others will be entirely familiar to series veterans, who will take them on the chin in the undeniably addictive pursuit of scattering soldiers like so much lacquer-armoured confetti.

The unfortunate situation for Dynasty Warriors PSP isn't just that it's more of the same, but that it feels like it could have been so different.

More info

US censor rating"","",""
UK censor rating"12+","12+","12+"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)