Game Description: The popular Dynasty Warriors tactical action series is back. Dynasty Warriors 3 has tons of new features and environments, adding 10 levels to the original eight and new troop types, including the terrifying elephant cavalry. You can command your bodyguards with squad-level commands, and take advantage of the improved Musou attacks. The game also features brand-new two-player cooperative and versus modes, along with endurance and time attack modes. And now, if players are caught in a combo, they can evade attacks midair. The greater variety of play modes amd moves means this version moves past the kill-or-be-killed approach of past incarnations, giving you more freedom to explore and pursue a wide variety of goals. And where in the past many scenes were available only with subtitles, the entire dramatic content of Dyanasty Warriors 3 has been dubbed in English, with an ear to psychological realism.
I criticized the violent crime-spree laden Grand Theft Auto 3 as being trashy and decried the upcoming riot-in-a-box State Of Emergency as being vile, but I couldn't deny the pleasure I took charging into a crowd of dozens and executing a earth shattering Musuo attack (think Soul Calibur-like combos on steroids) in Dynasty Warriors 3.
Am I being hasty in condemning myself? Perhaps a little more examination of both the game and the subject of violence in videogames are warranted.
Dynasty Warriors 3 is, at its core, what many old-school gamers call a beat-em-up. In the tradition of coin-op classics like Double Dragon and Final Fight, a beat-'em-ups most distinguishing characteristic is usually the endless hordes of computer opponents a player must combat (usually with fists, weapons and anything else a player can get his hands on) and the repetitive nature of the gameplay which is usually tantamount to a wholelotta button-mashing. However, there are several qualities that distinguish Dynasty Warriors 3 from its ancestors.
Dynasty Warriors 3 is a beat-em-up in which every facet is richly decorated with layers of ancient Chinese culture and history. The characters in the game are entirely derived from the legendary cast of iconoclastic heroes, villains, warriors, politicians, scholars, leaders and lovers from the "Romance of the Three Kingdom" annals. All the costuming of the 3D models is ethnically authentic and beautifully lavished. The story backdrops and scripted mission designs are also rooted in the text of the novels. Its an artistically rich and fulfilling tapestry from which the developers successfully draw their inspirations.
The gameplay also manages to evolve past its precursors in a number of ways. Dynasty Warriors 3s most obvious and compelling attraction is its concept of putting players right smack dab in the frontlines of a battlefield from a third-person perspective. In what seems like a minor technical miracle, each stage consists of literally hundreds of soldiers partaking in massive battle (most of which progresses off-screen) while dozens upon dozens of soldiers can flood into the players perspective at any given time. The overall feeling is incredibly vicarious, and leading a foothill charge of soldiers into conflict is wonderfully cathartic. The battles are indeed long and challenging, but also deeply rewarding.
The mindlessness of mowing down opponent after opponent in a typical beat-em-up fashion has also been invigorated in Dynasty Warriors 3 because players are treated as active pawns in a grander scheme. Theres a sense of liveliness and dynamic tension to the game world. Depending on the character a player assumes, responsibilities and objectives are shifted to the unique perspective of that particular character. Players can react and influence the tide of a battle by making strategic choices as to whether or not they should follow their assignments or freelance where assistance might be needed. To make things even more interesting, all the combat and strategy can be played through co-operatively with a human ally by way of a split-screen setup. For console gaming, camaraderie between two gamers is elevated to new plateaus.
To top off the gameplay, theres also an intentionally arduous, yet still dangerously addictive system for character development and weapons upgrades. The system of finding treasures and power-ups in the midst of the battlefield is less than inspired, but the net result is still effective in that it diversifies the gameplay and a player can easily lose a greater part of a days time trying collect these little attention-arousing devices.
However inspired most of Dynasty Warriors 3 is, the game is not without any fallacies. While the game can be technically astounding, the game engine has its limitations. When pushed to the max, massive slow-down in the gameplay occurs and 3D models have a nasty habit of magically disappearing and reappearing in order to compensate. In the two-player co-operative and versus modes, these problems are exasperatedly twofold.
So in closing of my analysis, is there a difference between Dynasty Warriors 3 and State Of Emergency or any other game that personifies violence?
I could argue that Dynasty Warriors 3 sits on higher ground because its treatment of the subject matter is more cultured and not eagerly exploitative (unlike most of Rockstar Games franchises). I could also say that Dynasty Warriors 3s main focus is on ancient war and history; not violence. The violence is an inherent characteristic to the subject matter.
So does that means violence is acceptable and perhaps even justifiable if dressed up properly and portrayed in the appropriate context? That reads cheap even as I write it. After all, who deems what is acceptable and what is appropriate? Religion and society can set the morale standards, but what if one chooses not to believe in God and whose cultural society are we talking about?
What does not escape me is that I enjoyed the violence in Dynasty Warriors 3. However dignified the games treatment of its subject may be, I was neither appalled nor enlightened by the violence. I was thrilled by it. Videogames make players active participants. Unlike films or books about war and violence, one cannot separate ones self from the content and look at the subject objectively. Therein lies the conflicting duality of videogames that makes it difficult for developers to convey intelligent and artful ideas through the medium. In order for videogames to be engaging, they need to be entertaining. What happens when a subject matter or an idea for a videogame may not be inherently entertaining? Is it the duty of developers to increase the fun factor at the expense of integrity? Are developers ultimately forced to channel their visions through more marketable criteria in order for it to be consumable?
If videogames are ultimately doomed to be subjective and void of objective thinking, perhaps the much industry applauded and heralded advocate of videogames, Dr. Henry Jenkins of M.I.T., is correct in saying that the attraction behind videogames is that it allows us to explore our darker impulses without consequence. Perhaps its inescapable that videogames can only be about escapist violent fantasies. This would inevitably explain the great success that Grand Theft Auto 3 has achieved, and I could sleep better at night knowing that Im not a hypocrite for slaying 600 virtual soldiers and loving every second of it.
Disclaimer: This review is based on the PlayStation 2 version of the game.
Chi has already touched on this in his main review, but I feel compelled to emphasize it even more. The amount of detail, especially historical detail that has gone into Dynasty Warriors 3 is simply mind-boggling. I can think of no other game that offers a database of information about people and events in the game as an option to select from the main menu screen. During the briefing before every battle, one of the options you are given is to read a brief historical context of the battle you are about to fight. The characters and battles in Dynasty Warriors 3 are based on a famous Chinese historical novel, The Romance Of The Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong. (It is worth noting that those of us used to the Yale translations of the characters names will be confused at first, as Dynasty Warriors 3 uses a more modern translation (Cao Cao instead of Tsao Tsao, etc.)) Not only are you offered an incredible number of characters to play with, but no matter who you choose, you will be playing as a historical figure from one of the most interesting periods in Chinas rich history. Quite simply, Koei has created a game that is not only addictively fun, but educational.
Another feather in the cap of Dynasty Warriors 3 is the incredible amount of replay value that you receive. With a grand total of 41 possible characters to play with, and with each character having a different arc of battles in the Musou mode (basically a story mode), as well numerous different items and unique weapons for each character, theres a wealth of replay options here. And each character is highly detailed, using a bright, engaging palette with an excellent range of colors.
Most of the flaws in Dynasty Warriors 3 can be tied, as Chi implied, to the amount of characters the game requires to be on the screen at the same time. This means that aside from people popping in and out of existence, that the draw plane is pretty short and that theres enough fogging that you never get a great sense of the scope of the battlefield. The camera also has a couple of minor flaws, sometimes getting caught behind objects that do not turn transparent and often you are attacked by enemies that you were not aware of. However, most of the time the camera is well-behaved, and considering youre usually fighting in the middle of a swirling melee, its to be expected that people will get shots in from behind you.
Perhaps the oddest part of Dynasty Warriors 3 is the voice acting and the music. The English voice acting is adequate to horrid, with an emphasis on horrid. Thankfully, Koei gives you the option of retaining the Japanese voice acting with English subtitles, which is at least competent, if not spectacular. The soundtrack is dominated by hair-metal guitar riffs that seem wildly incongruous compared to the historical backdrop of the game. At least the music is upbeat and does a good job lending a sense of speed and aggression to the gameplay.Another drawback that I found myself cursing was the way the game handles plot. Since the game is drawing together a very large body of work with many different characters who will switch allegiances between the 3 main sides, its hard to keep track of what exactly is going on, or what you hope to achieve by winning a certain battle. Although the historical introductions to each battle help somewhat, it is very hard to get a sense of a larger plot line connecting the series of battles you fight through. Additionally, it will certainly take longer than a few weeks of solid play (at least if you are not familiar with the earlier games in the series) to be able to recognize all the various characters and their relationships to each other. Still, Dynasty Warriors 3 is worth the kind of dedication that it requires to move beyond the initially shallow feel of its gameplay and truly explore its depths.
Disclaimer: This review is based on the PlayStation 2 version of the game.
According to ESRB, this game contains: Mild Language, Violence
For parents, Dynasty Warriors 3 is a mixed bag. On one hand, the game is close to being educational for its historic content. On the other hand, the game has body counts (to which the game refers meekly as Knockouts) that make even Hollywoods bloodiest seem sheepish in comparison. However, the violence isnt gratuitous in that there are no dismemberments or any body parts flying and surprisingly zero bloodletting. Dead bodies are also rather tidy in that they automatically disappear off the battlefield. If only you could say the same for all your childrens messes.
Fans of the fighting beat-em-up genre will truly appreciate Dynasty Warriors 3 as a title worthy of the next-generation label. The classic feel of the genre is maintained, but its also further evolved by increasing the amount on-screen enemies to new levels, adding strategic elements, and also including a attribute and weapons build-up system.
War and history buffs will find that there isnt as much strategy as a turned-based war sim, but in terms of putting players right in the thick of the action, Dynasty Warriors 3 is without equal.