he Dynasty That Never Ends
By now there should be a noticeable running theme with any of the launch titles that are appearing on the Vita. A lot of these games are ports, or Vita versions of existing franchises that have established themselves on consoles. The important thing when it comes to these games is seeing how they stack up when compared to the full-fledged “console experience” since the Vita’s big selling point is that it doesn’t compromise on that experience. Like it or not, and many won’t, Dynasty Warriors Next is another title that can be added to the growing list of impressive translations to the Vita.
Thinning The Horde
Like all the Dynasty Warriors games that came before—and a couple of Gundam games to boot—Next is about a handful of warriors running through a battlefield, seizing control points while killing thousands upon thousands of generic infantry soldiers. This is occasionally spiced up with some “named” soldiers, but the basic mechanic is you are overpowered and you lead your army to victory. It’s a formula that has served a small, but not insignificant audience for years, and it is implemented—by Dynasty Warriors standards—solidly here in its Vita debut.
And make no mistake about that, anything you say about Next has to be compared by Dynasty Warriors standards, because this is a game that will appeal only to its fans. Many, many gamers have complained over the years of the repetitive nature and simplistic elements of this franchise, but Koei stubbornly clings to this formula, to the delight of its devoted long time audience, and it does the same thing here. This is a surprisingly good transition of the franchise to a portable system; if you’re a fan. The graphics and controls are equal to its console relatives, with some very impressive stability and performance for a game that’s a) on a portable system and b) rendering dozens and dozens of people on screen simultaneously with flashy special attack effects lighting up the area. Koei’s Omega Force development team did not have to skimp on the production values to get this thing to run on a Vita and it’s an impressive vote of confidence for the hardware. Of course, one of the big things that makes this possible is the second analog stick that maintains traditional camera controls, but that’s not to say that this game is a straight up port of existing console versions.
Some concessions have been made to the Vita’s features. There is the occasional “ambush” where the game slips into Matrix styled slow-motion bullet time. When this happens, players physically move the Vita ARG/Camera style to keep approaching enemies in focus, and then touch the screen in order to kill them. Duels also occasionally crop up where players challenge bosses by swiping at the screen to perform sword slashes and blocks. Even the mighty Musou special attack gets some touch and shake functionality with characters using tremor attacks that have you shaking your Vita up and down in time to the ground pounding, or Fist of the Northstar style rapid slashing that requires you to swipe your thumbs left and right, squealing “ATATATATATAH!” as an option. If you’re really concerned about these new control additions, rest assured, you can go into the options and select a strictly traditional control scheme, the new gimmicks do add some variety to a franchise that is legendary for its repetitive gameplay. There’s even an ad hoc co-op experience for friends to get together for a little companionship while decimating the hordes.
For everyone that already knows all about Dynasty Warriors and aren’t fans, there is absolutely nothing here that will change your mind. For all the fans of the series however, this will be a mandatory purchase. It doesn’t innovate the series in any way, but it’s a complete, uncompromising, premium console experience on a portable system. For people that don’t know about the franchise, I’d suggest you try before you buy, and if the DW formula works for you, then Dynasty Warriors Next is a good place to start.