A demonstration of the popularity of the Xbox 360 console in North America and Europe, or perhaps its lack thereof in Japan, Dynasty Warriors 7 comes to Microsoft’s console only in western territories. Much like Final Fantasy XIII‘s initial launch, Dynasty Warriors 7 is part of an internationally successful franchise that knows where it’s strengths lie, deeming the risk of launching on the Xbox 360 in the east far too great when compared to the significant outlay involved in making the product available to consumers. Here in the west however, gamers are being treated to the Xbox 360’s first stereoscopic 3D compatible scrolling Beat-‘Em-Up.
As welcome as Dynasty Warriors 7 is on the Xbox 360, it’s clear that the game has been designed for the PlayStation 3 and simply ported to the Xbox 360. As a result, the draw distance has suffered slightly, though few other differences exist. Dynasty Warriors 7 on Xbox 360 is essentially the same game as it is on PlayStation 3, from the characters included to the new weapon system to the gameplay mode.
As with the PlayStation 3 version of the game, Story Mode is considered the primary gameplay mode. Offering four unique campaigns revealing the progression of the warring Three Kingdoms (based loosely on reality), the Story Mode offers a respectable amount of depth, giving the player tens of hours of missions and the opportunity to play as a variety of characters across the four campaigns. For those not prepared to partake in such a lengthy endeavour off-the-bat, there is an all-new Tutorial mode designed to teach players everything from basic controls to advanced combat manoeuvres.
The second main gameplay option is Conquest Mode, providing yet more hours of objective-based combat stages only without such a reliance on plot. Given this greater freedom, the Conquest Mode allows players to choose any character they wish for any mission (bar the Legendary Battles). Laid out in a grid structure, players will encounter two basic stage types: Cities and Battles. Cities are essentially the free space, allowing the player to upgrade their weapons, purchase items and other organisational activities. Battles display their difficulty (ranked out of five stars), the reward offered and any special conditions along with a brief description prior to starting. The player can still select their own difficulty setting from the five available options prior to each Battle, so if a particular stage is causing problems you can replay on an easier difficulty setting. In terms of reward, a Battle space showing a sword will grant you a weapon as an additional bonus for completion, while those marked with an arrow offer additional fame and gold, amongst other bonuses.
The Legendary Battles require you to play as a specific character, often with a number of challenges present on the same space. Some recreate stories from the history of the Three Kingdoms, others are entirely original scenarios, but all reward the player significantly. These additional battle types help add some further variety to the already plentiful Conquest Mode, providing some stiff competition for the Story Mode with regards to which is the more compelling experience.
As a connection between the two main gameplay modes, Dynasty Warriors 7 features revised level and weapon systems. Persistent across both Story Mode and Conquest Mode, players can level-up their character through spending Skill Points, learning new moves and statistic bonuses available through individual skill trees. The weapon system allows any character to use any weapon type, though certain characters are more skilled with specific equipment. Utilising a weapon will build experience with that armament, eventually unlocking a Seal which will grant additional bonuses or statistic increases that attach to it. Most weapons have spare slots in which players can apply further Seals earned in game, improving the item in the direction they so choose.
As mentioned above, the Xbox 360 version of Dynasty Warriors 7 suffers from a slightly weaker draw distance than the PlayStation 3 version, but beyond this the differences are negligible. The character models remain well drawn, brightly coloured and respectably animated, and the special effects remain just as impressive as they splash across the screen. The sound quality is also as technically reliable in the quality if it’s delivery, but also in the quality of the compositions.
Tecmo Koei’s Warriors franchise is finding itself increasingly overlooked in the modern industry, with many believing that the games are not just a rehash of what has been before, but in fact have not progressed since the earliest releases on the PlayStation 2. As ignorant as this opinion may be, Dynasty Warriors 7 is not the game that will convince the naysayers otherwise. It marks dramatic progress for the series, but in a way that only the biggest fans or open-minded gamers will appreciate. Dynasty Warriors 7 is one of the finest examples of how to use the current-generation systems to deliver intense scrolling Beat-‘Em-Up gameplay available in the west, and the fact that Tecmo Koei Europe have bought it to Xbox 360 demonstrates their perception of the more fractured market, and wherein the audience willing to be convinced by it lies.