The rich setting, wealth of options, and gratifying gameplay make Dynasty Tactics a great purchase for strategy enthusiasts.
The Three Kingdoms period was the very height of chivalry and warfare for ancient China. By continually tapping into this rich historical background, developer and publisher Koei may be entering a golden age as well. While the long-running Romance of the Three Kingdoms strategy series has yet to gain much fame outside of Asia, the action-oriented Dynasty Warriors titles have done well with Western audiences. In Dynasty Tactics, Koei uses the same historical backdrop to focus on battlefield tactics, while retaining the drama and excellent presentation that have made its recent efforts so successful. The resulting game is more accessible than the Romance series, though still best suited to strategy gamers looking for a serious way to spend their playtime.
Before you choose to play as one of three legendary figures whose goal is to unify all of China, the game will put you through a three-part tutorial that teaches you the basics of battle and introduces you to a number of key concepts. Once you've completed several exercises, you'll see an introductory cinematic and be thrust into the heat of battle. A help window will appear the first time you encounter a particular aspect of the game, giving a detailed explanation and an immediate chance to put your new knowledge to use. This keeps the basic learning curve manageable and helps to balance the depth of the game's underlying systems.
Dynasty Tactics centers on skilled generals who command thousands of soldiers as single units. Several units together compose an army. The battlefield is divided into a grid, where squares of varying terrain make up the playing field. A unit's morale is determined by the general's leadership ability and various other factors. In turn, morale dictates the order in which units take action. While the relative sizes as well as strengths and weaknesses of each unit must be considered, the "tactics" themselves are the crux of gameplay. These are actual techniques available to each general, and mastering when and in what combinations to use them is the key.
Each general has his own list of formidable tactics at his disposal, displayed in a queue on the unit's status screen. The effects of these commands can be used for raising and lowering morale, changing unit positions on the battlefield, attacking multiple units at once, and more. Whether you use them wisely or squander them foolishly will ultimately decide the outcome of the battle. Each of the many tactics has its own unique requirements and effects. For instance, to use the "flank" maneuver you need to be adjacent to and facing the side of an enemy unit. When executed, the enemy will be pushed forward one space in the direction they were facing and lose morale.
While tactics are powerful when used alone, they're devastating when combined. If the usage of one command creates the condition for another, that tactic will be triggered, and a "tactical combo" will result. The damage enemies will sustain will increase as each maneuver is performed in succession, but it does take a certain degree of planning. A tactic must be at the top of a general's queue to be triggered and must relate to either the unit that just acted or the units that were targeted by the previous action. "Tactical links" can also be used by strategists, which are triggered only when another specialized technique is used anywhere on the map. The catches are that the linked units cannot be a direct target for another tactic, and poorly planned links are easily broken.
Orchestrating a successful combo can eliminate thousands, even tens of thousands, of enemies from the battlefield and create deeply satisfying moments for the player. Each coordinated assault is depicted by a very capable graphics engine, showing the specific unit types, terrain, and actions. When certain conditions are fulfilled you may even see your generals perform godlike feats on the battlefield, effortlessly striking down enemy soldiers with amazing power and grace. If you manage to defeat an enemy with a large combo, you might actually capture and add him to your stable of officers.
More and more depth will reveal itself from this inventive tactics system over time. As you become able to think farther ahead and learn the finer points of tactical combination, you'll begin to develop a keen awareness of turn order and formulate your own strategies. When you can intelligently order a general's tactics on the list, you'll truly be playing the game on a high level, and you'll probably find yourself really enjoying the game.
You'll also be charged with organizing and commanding your armies on a broad scale. Generals will grow stronger as they gain experience, learning new tactics and learning to command more-advanced troop types. The type and order of a commander's equipped tactics can be adjusted, and equipping special items will further improve his abilities.
The soldiers themselves are divided into four main classes: infantry, archers, cavalry, and special. More experience is required to command the advanced troops, but no troop type will become totally obsolete. The lowly footmen have the worst attack and defense ratings in their class, but their large shields make them highly resistant to arrows. Cavalry have superior strength and speed and are strong against most ground units, but they fight poorly in forests and are weak against spears and pikes.
- Player Reviews: 7
- Game Universe:
- Dynasty Warriors 3 (PS2, XBOX),
- Dynasty Warriors 4 (PS2, XBOX, PC),
- Dynasty Warriors 5 (PS2, XBOX),
- Dynasty Warriors Online (PC, PS3),
- Shin Sangoku Musou 4 Special (PC, X360),
- Warriors Orochi (X360, PSP, PS2, PC),
- Dynasty Warriors: Gundam (PS3, X360),
- Warriors Orochi 2 (PS2, X360, PSP),
- Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 (PS3, X360),
- Dynasty Warriors 7 (PS3, X360)
- Number of Players: