So while only 2 years since DW7 once again it is time to dive back into China and beat several thousand people to death with a big stick or sword or a rake... wait rake?
So for those who aren't familiar with the game it is a Hack and Slash where you play a famous officer during the period of China known as the romance of the 3 kingdoms where each level your goal is usually to either reach a certain point or beat a certain officer completing certain objectives along the way to either make it possible to achieve the goal or make sure your commander and army don't get crushed while you try and accomplish this. Simple but effective at what it tries to do.
Introduced in the last game every officer can carry two weapons however Koei has actually done a good job and now there are no cloned move sets. E.g. in 7 Cao Cao, Sun Jian and Sun Quan all wielded the same kind of sword only their musou and ex attacks were different. Now though each wield their own type of sword with different effects e.g. Cao Cao creates shadow copies, Sun Jian generates shock waves and Sun Quan... well he got the old one. This actually makes the characters all feel unique now with their primaries for the rest time in a long while which is nice and makes me want to try them all compared to previous games where some just felt the same.
Anow of course it wouldn't be a new game without new generals to play. Shu gains Zhang Bao, Guan Xing and Guan Yuanping (children of Zhang Fei and Guan Yu) and Guan Xing is the only one who kind of disappoints me due to his weapon set which likes to curve around enemies and which caused me a few times to do a special attack on an enemy officer only to go around him instead. Wei finally gets Yue Jin and Li Dian who are both good and no real complaints. Wu gains Han Dang and Lu Su and while Lu Su's weapon of a rake kind of dissapointed me at first it's actually my favourite new weapon and Lu Su himself is probably my 2nd favourite new officer. Jin gets Jia Chong and Wen Qin who's movesets I found kind of eh but then there was Zhang Chunhua. Holy crap Zhang Liao you've just been replaced as my favourite character. Her moveset is nice using the wired claws for DW6 I've been waiting to return since then but her voice actor and attitude in the game are brilliant. Ahhh such fun watching Sima Yi be scared of her.
Now along with this the game has introduced a new system where weapons have one of 3 elements that makes them stronger or weaker vs officers who have the other element. This is just pointless as against enemies who were stronger it made little difference and weaker ones it just made fighting them pointless. Even Lu Bu at Hu Lao was a piece of cake once I was using a weapon with a element he was weak against so all this has done is made you more OP which I find a shame. Along with this is rage mode which is basicaclly a super musou attack and once again I find this to be just to much as these can clear out entire screens with ease (record is 378 KO's with one attack so far). Nice ideas KOEI but really makes the difficulty drop like a stone.
Now the main game mode is once again Story mode. Here you play Shu, Wu, Wei and Jin through their stages however unlike DW7 instead of getting once officer and only using him you usually get a choice of 3-4 and the level plays out slightly differently depending who you choose e.g. in Chi Bi as Wu playing as Sun Shang Xiang your goal is to defend the shrine from Wei's attacks while playing as Han Dang you must defend the main camp instead. These are usually minor but do help the replayability of each stage.
Koei has also added What If missions to story mode where if you complete certain objectives on certain missions at a key battle you'll get two choices one choice goes down how history went and the other a fictional route. These are quite nice and add onto the story.
The others also get one missions each but they are nothing special and what you expect e.g. Zhang Jiao is at Yellow Turbans, Lu Bu Xia Pi, Zhu Rong Nanzhong. I really wish KOEI would do another DW3XL and give the others a fleshed out fictional story line but alas not to be.
My main gripe with story mode is the repeated maps and Chi Bi. The maps do get a repeated a bit which is a bit dissapointing but they are usually changed up enough for it not to be a big problem but is noticeable with Luo Yang being the worst. Also Chi Bi is kind of dissapointing and has some frame rate issues when the fire attack hits. KOEI is aware and a patch is apparently out on the 360 version but seen nothing on PS3 and it is noticeable. Thankfully no where else seems to have this problem.
Other modes include Free mode which lets you replay any mission with any character and even play some missions on the other side which you couldn't in story mode e.g. playing on the side of Wei on Wu's final mission assaulting them. Sadly these ones aren't as fleshed out and if you pick an officer who would normally be there you don't replace them and get duplicates as I noticed on one mission where Zhen Ji congratulated me while playing as Zhen Ji... time parafox away.
The other mode is ambition mode..... oh boy. This mode you play a bunch of small skirmishes to build up a town large enough to house the emperor. Now it starts off okay which each stage getting harder and harder but you can return to town to recoup and then try again but as you play each officer you defeat decides to join you. This means after a while you ahev all the named officers and all future battles are just vs generic Unit Commanders who are all weak and not a challenge at all which just results in you grinding battles to get what you need to house the emperor. Once thing I will say though is Ambition mode is where you can easily get high level mounts and weapons when you increase your towns value but that is really it and trophy grinding.
Apart from that there is not a lot else the soundtrack is still the same sort of music though the new tracks are quite good but for god sake KOEI stop remixing DW3 arena the new version is just ugh no. Also sadly the days of the old DW3 and SW2 AI is gone and while the officers are okay mister generic peon isn't a threat.