While I love this game to death, I think it's worth noting that it is a Dynasty Warriors game, and if you haven't liked Musou games up to this point, you're probably not going to like this one either. That aside, this game is one of my favorites at the moment, I'd like to break this game down category by category, but tl;dr is at the bottom.Gameplay
I won't waste time here explaining the DW gameplay mechanics in depth, but suffice to say, you'll take your overpowered character of choice, and use them as a wrecking ball to destroy generic soldiers to enemy officers. Each character is skilled with different types of weapons and has two unique combos with their respective armament. Of course, there are generic combos and skills associated with a weapon that anybody can utilize, but the special combos make your character that much more deadly. One new addition is the affinity triangle - basically every weapon has an affinity on it and certain affinities work better against others. This is a refreshing, though it basically boils down to doing more or less damage to an enemy depending on who has the affinity advantage.
While there are several different modes to enjoy, there are many times that modes like Ambition (where you develop a forward camp into a palace, recruit officers, etc.) can feel like an endless grind. I've put a good deal of hours here and still have a while to go. Though stages have different objectives (randomly generated) in this mode, they more or less boil down to 'kill officer A'. Once you get familiar with these, I can see how the gameplay could get old fast.Graphics
I look at graphics in two different categories: design and polish. Design-wise, this game is one of the better ones. The weapons all look cool in their own ways, environments are authentic and very appropriate for the game, and the characters are unique in their own ways. Veterans can argue that they look similar to previous entries into the DW series, but they've never gotten old to me.
Polish is a bit of a different series. The graphics aren't bad by any means, but they aren't outstanding either. To touch on what I said earlier, there are times it feels like they didn't improve the graphics at all, but simply recycled them from older games. It hasn't bothered me yet, but I will say that if you're looking for a graphical masterpiece - you won't find it here.Sound
I've always felt that if gameplay wasn't what you remembered DW for, it's the soundtrack, and DW8 is certainly no exception. The musical score in this game is excellent and has a ton of tracks. The tracks are asian-themed, and really help you get immersed into the action. This is usually the case with DW games, and DW8 continues the trend perfectly. As of the posting of this review, the majority of the soundtrack is available on YouTube, so you can evaluate before you buy (I'm thinking you won't be disappointed).
Also, you can get the original Japanese VAs through a free DLC - this made the sale for me. :)Controls
Before I begin, I used a wired 360 controller for this game, so I can't comment on the mouse and keyboard layout. Controls are simplistic, and easy to get the hang of. Using the default controls, the A button goes back and the B button confirms; this is standard for the Japanese, as I understand, but can be frustrating until you get the hang of it. Combat is another story completely.
Attacking and combos are easy enough to learn, and as you progress in difficulty, you'll find the need to put that into use more and more. Overall, once you get the controls down, I think you'll find them enjoyable and straightforward.TL;DR
- Fun and addicting hack and slash gameplay
- Great soundtrack
- Game design makes levels feel immersive
- Very good port - haven't crashed once and runs very smoothly
- Lots of different weapon types and attack
- Gets really grindy, especially in Ambition mode and looking for good weapons
- Graphics are fine, but nothing more
- $190 worth of DLC, and there's no new levels?
- When playing with X360 controller, on-screen buttons prompts still reflect keyboard controls.
If you're a fan of DW or the hack and slash genre, this is a great game, and I think you'll get a lot of fun out of it. Otherwise, I'd hold out for a sale or just steer clear, if you're not a fan of the genre.