Dynasty Warriors Vol. 2


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 6

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7


Time is a healer to all wounds, and with the scar from the first PSP Dynasty Warriors barely healed, Koei again sends us back to ancient China. It turns out old wounds have been stitched up, with nearly every complaint addressed. The cut is still visible, but the recovery process has made significant steps towards a full recovery.

dynastywarrvol21psp.jpg (39665 bytes)Proudly boasting on the box that it uses the full display of the PSP screen (after cropping almost half the last time around), that's only one improvement made to this drastically different game. Loading times are the first step towards a better end result. While Dynasty Warriors Vol. 2 can't provide an open world battlefield, the short bursts of action are immediate after making a move on the strategy map.

It's difficult to convince a non-fan that this franchise revolves around strategy, especially since a gameplay diary would indicate little aside from "Pressed X 3,657 times. Killed 5,000 soldiers." Slaughtering those 5,000 soldiers is intense and rewarding; with a satisfying combo system and special attack system that can bring allied guards into the fray.

Graphical issues still prevent the full army from appearing on screen, and the aggravation in watching enemies flicker from view to save the hardware can lead to some unfair fights. While the map is always present in the upper right, it's impossible to read the number of enemies within each group. While rarely an issue since higher-ranking foes are shown individually, you have to wonder if this game is right for the hardware.

Before diving into the fight, you'll need to plan your attack. As in the first PSP run, a strategic map dictates combat flow. Moving to an enemy occupied square brings up a fight and uses up resources. While taking over new strips of land, you'll need to watch your own base. Losing your home is one way of being defeated, in addition to running out of supplies and dying on the battlefield.

Moving between sections is smooth and rapid. Loading occurs before the full struggle begins. Once moved onto an appropriate square, the fight starts immediately. When it's over, the celebratory screens hold off until the enemy is completely conquered. There's no need to wait for a victory splash screen after each square has been beaten, which caused pacing issues in the previous Dynasty Warriors on the PSP.

Branching storylines propel the warriors through their fight, leading to replay value if you're not sick of this one enough the first time through. The full roster is available, bringing the total up to 48 playable fighters. The majority are of course locked from the start. Numerous characters are uncovered when beating each kingdom's storyline.

A PSP exclusive, multi-player makes itself known with Ad Hoc action with a maximum of four players. These four quick skirmish modes feel similar, mostly requiring each player to take out as many enemies as possible. Bombs Away is a stand out, requiring one player to hand off a bomb before it goes off while still maintaining a decent KO count.

While it's unlikely the PSP series will match its home console counterpart, this unique spin on a never-ending franchise is a welcome change of pace. The strategy element separates it enough that it doesn't feel like a cheap cash in, and it's evident some thought went into the design. If you're still not tired of this series, this is a smart pick-up if you have the hardware.


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Last updated: Sunday, November 12, 2006 10:21 PM