If you're looking for a new twist on Koei's usual formula this is a good bet.
Bodboy466 wrote this review on .
Koei is best known for its series, Dynasty Warriors, which has found lukewarm reception with critics everywhere. From the look of the list provided here, it seems to be going the same route with their new franchise, Bladestorm. The game has many similarities to Dynasty Warriors, some good, some bad, that regulars to the franchise will be able to pick out pretty quickly.
Just like in Dynasty Warriors you play a warrior running around the battlefield killing all who are unfortunate to cross your path. This time around though you can't do it alone. Rather, you use groups of allies aligned to any one of the large number of different weapons available including halberds, spears, horsemen, archers and so many more than I'd care to take the time to name. In addition to this, your warrior isn't as flashy as in Dynasty Warriors. Instead, there are commands. For instance, if you have a horseman unit you have the commands Charge, Ride-By Slash, and Protection. These are each assigned to Square, Circle, and Triangle (with X remaining static at Control/Release unit). Charge is a command that you hold to use, Protection is a one-press command that remains active temporarily, and Ride-By Slash is an instant attack. Each command requires time to recharge after using them. There's of course, a basic attack command which is simply holding R1 which tells your unit to fight anyone nearby, though certain units such as the longspears and catapults don't have this command for whatever reason.
As the title implies, this time rather than fighting in ancient China you are fighting during the Hundred Years War between England and France, but rather than picking one side and fighting with them as a major general or anything like that you are just a lowly mercenary working your way up in fame, fighting for whatever side is willing to pay more. You can fight for one side the entire way through, but money runs out pretty quickly when you incorporate all of the things you can and probably should buy. Yep, that's something new and different from Dynasty Warriors as well. During the different missions you take on you can use the tavern to buy new armor, weapons (which are equipped to the troops you use rather than just you), pennons (In battle items), tomes (used to control and upgrade new troops) and shields (which are also specific to troops).
Sorry if this is all a little confusing but there's a lot of overlap. The tomes which I just mentioned are fairly important. See, you can't just control any troop you like at first- you need the "books" for the different types of troops which you usually get at the end of battle. Luckily, you don't need a book for every single sub-genre. In fact, the Swords book, which you start out with, cover many different sub-genres including your basic sword unit, great sword units, sword and shield units, and a few others. The bows book controls longbows, shortbows, and crossbows and variations thereof.
With these books you can build Skill Points which are used to upgrade the troops, either in general with skills like Attack, Defense, Leadership (the number of soldiers in a unit) et cetera, and specific upgrades to the action commands I spoke of earlier (Charge, Ride-By Slash, etc.) including lenghtening the effects of an ability, increasing the damage, or whatever there is.
There are special battles in the game, besides the basic missions, in which you meet and might be fighting alongside (supposedly) famous historical figures. Your ultimate goal is... well, I'm not quite sure at this time- there are some hints but so far it's just making a name for yourself and earning money.
The most annoying crossover from Dynasty Warriors is probably not being able to dispose of someone because they keep falling down and for whatever you aren't allow to strike someone when they fall down, no matter how often they do it (though this sort of touches on the strengths versus weakness between different troops). This is especially noticable when you're focused on a base commander, since many of the missions require taking bases. Pop-up is present in Bladestorm but not to the horrible extent that Dynasty Warriors had it. They seem to have figured out a method of selective pop-up so that only troops that are further away "disappear" so that you don't have to wait for the target right in front of you to reappear. The background music can also get somewhat grating after awhile. At first it's impressive how epic the music is but, while it might not be true, it feels like you're always listening to the same two tracks. A little variation in this departement really would have spiced things up.
Overall, this is a good improvement on Koei's usual Dynasty Warriors formula. While it still caries a few of the woes of the flagship series, it carries many good traits including an impressive number of troop types to control and master, an impressive number of on-screen soldiers for the more chaotic fetish in all of us, sprawling battlefields, and an interesting take on battlefield combat. If you're looking for a new twist on Koei's usual formula this is a good bet.