Dynasty Warriors 5 Hands-On

We've seen the PlayStation 2 version of Dynasty Warriors 5, but we recently spent some time playing the Xbox version of the game to see how it compares.

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The Dynasty Warriors series has been around since 1997. But thus far, only two of Koei's flashy hack-and-slash games have appeared on the Xbox. However, the publisher's planning to go for three with the release of Dynasty Warriors 5 in September. We've already reviewed the PlayStation 2 version of the game, but we recently got our hands on the Xbox version to see what's new.

The Xbox version of Dynasty Warriors 5 is pretty much the same as the PlayStation 2 version, but it's got a couple of additional options in the form of Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and the original Japanese voice-overs (instead of the English ones). These are nice touches, although they're not quite worth holding out for if you already have the PlayStation 2 game.

The Dynasty Warriors games have always focused on letting you take control of a legendary warrior who's capable of taking on hundreds of enemy soldiers, single-handedly, using flashy combos and special attacks. Dynasty Warriors 5 maintains the same focus, with huge battlefields and dozens of characters on the screen at the same time. Even when the screen is crowded with enemies, the frame rate holds up just fine. In fact, Dynasty Warriors 5 is capable of displaying twice as many characters onscreen simultaneously as Dynasty Warriors 4. The battlefields are bigger to accommodate all that action, too, since all the 38 maps are a full 30 percent larger this time around. The load times in the game are surprisingly short, considering how big the battlefields are. The draw distance has been improved here, too, and you'll see that the fog effect from previous games has been reduced. However, we did notice that some buildings and objects had a tendency to pop up a bit late as we approached them.

Dynasty Warriors 5 is capable of displaying twice as many characters onscreen as Dynasty Warriors 4.
Dynasty Warriors 5 is capable of displaying twice as many characters onscreen as Dynasty Warriors 4.

The rest of the game looks pretty similar to the past couple of Dynasty Warriors games. The 48 playable characters are detailed and flashy, each with unique, over-the-top special moves that look impressive as they send your enemies flying in all directions. The environments don't look particularly detailed, but the action rarely lets up long enough for you to pay much attention to what's going on in the background anyway. We did notice some flickering textures on the horses in the game, but hopefully that will get fixed before the game ships.

The Xbox controls work just fine for Dynasty Warriors 5. The left analog stick moves your character, and you can jump with A. You can perform a regular attack with the X button, you can execute a charge attack with Y, and you can initialize a special attack with B. The different attacks can be strung together in powerful combos, and there are also aerial attacks. The white button issues orders to your bodyguard, and the black button toggles a map of the battlefield. You can guard with the left trigger, while the right trigger switches to a first-person view for attacking with a bow. Pressing the left trigger during combat also centers the camera behind your character. Although the game uses all the buttons on the controller, the controls feel intuitive and easy to manage.

Other new features in Dynasty Warriors 5 include more-varied weapons characteristics, bodyguard officers, and a battlefield base system. Now you'll notice a difference in weapon performance depending on affinity and weight. For those times when you just can't cut it alone, there are bodyguards available that will attack and defend depending on the orders you give them. You can keep up to eight bodyguard officers on hand, although only one can fight in battle at a time. The battlefield base system also adds a bit more depth to the action in Dynasty Warriors 5 by placing various buildings and checkpoints throughout each map. You can capture enemy bases to boost your allies' morale, or you can call for reinforcements.

The Xbox version of the game features Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, in addition to the option of listening to the original Japanese voice-overs.
The Xbox version of the game features Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, in addition to the option of listening to the original Japanese voice-overs.

Dynasty Warriors 5 is almost identical to the PlayStation 2 version that came out in March. If you already played that version, then there isn't much reason to check it out on the Xbox, unless you really like the idea of listening to the Japanese voice-overs and/or Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. However, if you haven't played it yet and you're an Xbox owner with a yearning for hack-and-slash action games, you'll want to keep an eye on Dynasty Warriors 5 as its September release date approaches. While you wait, be sure to check out the new gameplay movies and screenshots we just added from the Xbox version of the game.

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