Review: Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition (PSV)

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Title: Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition
Format: Game Card / PlayStation Network Download (3.3 GB)
Release Date: March 25, 2014
Publisher: Tecmo Koei America
Developer: Omega Force
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends is also available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.
The PlayStation Vita download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Editor’s Note:
Portions of this review also appear in our PlayStation 4 coverage of Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 368 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
The first Dynasty Warriors hit the PlayStation in 1997 but bore little resemblance to the games of today. That first title was a straight-up fighting game much like Tekken. It wasn’t until the next release on the PlayStation 2 in 2000 that the game would take shape and start to become the game it is today.

Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition (DW8:XLCE from here on out) takes Dynasty Warriors 8 which was released last July for the PS3 and the $40 expansion Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends which was released in March and combines them into one package for both the PlayStation 4 and the Vita. The expansion adds five new playable characters and their respective stories, a new set of story missions for Lu Bu and a new difficulty level.

If you do have the PS3 version and you’ve sunk a lot of time into it you’re in for a real treat. You can upload your Save file from within Dynasty Warriors 8 on the PS3 then fire up DW8:XLCE on the Vita and import your file there. It’ll save you from going through all the same missions all over again allowing you to focus on the new content and anything you haven’t completed yet. It’s an excellent addition to the game and a nice gesture to fans of the series.

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The Dynasty Warriors games are loosely based on the ancient Chinese text Romance of the Three Kingdoms which covers the Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms era from 169 AD to 280 AD. The book itself isn’t a proper history book, mixing legends and myths with historical facts leaving the game wide open to take liberties with the stories as well.

At its core, the game is essentially a beat-em-up and (at least on the default difficulty) you can pretty much get through the game with just a few buttons. You do have a number of combos at your disposal which can be immensely satisfying to pull off but often times they’re unnecessary. I’ve found that just switching weapons is often enough to land a big blow on even the most dangerous enemies since it kicks you into a powerful hit animation that’s nearly unstoppable. Because of this the upgrades and unlocks are mostly superfluous unless you’re playing at the higher difficulty levels.

Eighty-two characters are available to play as each with their own storylines and seamless cutscenes but keeping track of all the different stories becomes near impossible unless you’re a Chinese history scholar. It’s really more about getting into the action and cracking (several thousand) heads. What’s really important though is that each character sports a different weapon type and unique moves so it’s worth it to try a bunch of them out until you find the perfect fit.

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Story Mode allows you to choose one of the characters and battle your way through a number of scenarios. The battles tend to be more free-form in that you’ll be given objectives from time to time some of which are critical in completing your mission and some of which are not. It was here that I often had a problem with the map. It’s not always clear exactly what or where your next objective is as often times I’d be told to kill someone specific and I’d glance up at the map to see multiple green boxes lit up.

Free Mode allows you to play as the opposing factions from the Story Mode but Ambition Mode is probably the bigger draw. In Ambition, which can be done with co-op, local or online, you’ll need to construct a base by battling for materials, fame and partners. Xtreme Legends adds a timer to the mix creating a greater sense of urgency. Figuring out what order to build and who to put in charge can take some doing but it’s a welcome change from the rest of the game. The Challenge Mode also returns with a series of mini-games. Here you can compare your skills to others as scores are sent to online leaderboards.

The additions include a Rage Attack, triggered when a gauge fills up. You can use it when surrounded by tougher enemies but it’s best to make sure it’s full when you get to the bosses. The other is your weapon affinities, Earth, Air and Water. One will always be stronger against the other and when facing key enemies, it’s best to take the affinities into consideration and change up weapons accordingly.

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The amazing thing about the Vita version is that everything from the PS4 version is included here as well. It’s definitely not stripped down in the gameplay department making it that much more impressive overall. Sure, you’ll get some more pop-in and fewer enemies here and there, but all the content is there and more importantly, so is the feel of the game.

Using the touch screen in place of the missing L2/R2 triggers works surprisingly well. It appears that some real thought was put into the control scheme and I often found the Vita the more enjoyable experience of the two.

Visuals:
At first glance Dynasty Warriors looks greats precisely on the smaller screen of the Vita. It obviously doesn’t look as good as the PS4 version but it holds up surprisingly well. A lot of the same issues with characters and textures are present here but on the smaller screen it’s much less of an issue giving the Vita a bit of an edge here.

Character movement varies from the fluid striking moves of your own to the stiff, repetitive attacks of the enemies. Expect a ton of clipping and some odd hit detection. There is still some pop-in of enemies and entire groups of them will disappear as you approach.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible, it’s Dynasty Warriors. For better or worse, fans of the game have come to expect a certain level of bugginess, much like fans of Earth Defense Force. It’s part of the charm and atmosphere of the game. For everyone else, be aware of what you’re getting into.

The framerate is a bit unstable when the action ramps up and that’s even with the compromise of having fewer enemies on screen. Still, there are enough there that, much like the PS4, knowing what’s happening on screen can actually be problematic at times as it just becomes a huge mass of humanity with hundreds of red health bars overlapping all over the place.

Audio:
I hope you like generic PS2-era guitar anthem rock because that’s a lot of what you’ll get here. It really makes the game feel like a throwback to the late 90’s.

The voice acting is not that great and quickly gets repetitive with enemies yelling the same phrases over and over. The sounds of battle are a bit better but even those sound pretty generic and a lot like every other sword and magic brawler you’ve played in the past.

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Online/Multiplayer:
Co-op is available for the Story, Free and Ambition modes via Ad-hoc or Infrastructure connections which is great if you have a friend available, otherwise it’s been hard finding someone for a go online.

Conclusion:
If you only picked up the original game on the PS3 or didn’t pick it up at all, the handheld version is a refreshing addition to the mix. The ability to import your save from the PS3 adds terrific value and makes the upgrade that much more enticing since you won’t have to start over from scratch. The cheaper price also makes for a more attractive option for those who can’t decide between this and the PS4 version.

While there is Cross-Save functionality between the PS4 and PS Vita it’s not Cross-Buy. However, this is a massive game with more than one hundred hours of content but in the end it’s still just Dynasty Warriors which will either excite you or bore you depending on how you feel about the series.

If I had the choice between only one or the other I’d have to give the Vita version the slight edge. Even though you’re facing less enemies many of the other flaws tend to be covered up a bit on the smaller screen.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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