Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires

Expanded Empires

Things are mixed up again in Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires, and guess what? It works.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: June 28, 2009
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There are two ways to review a Dynasty Warriors game. The first is to harp incessantly on the lack of major changes to a formula that has been, at times, a multiple-release-per-year march of the same thing over and over again. KOEI knows the games aren't terribly different, the fans know they aren't different, and I certainly know little has changed. The second take, then, is to acknowledge that these games are baby steps in any given direction and judge them thusly. The only people reading this review are either fans or haters looking for a little schadenfreude, and I still count myself in the former party even after reviewing dozens of these games over the decade plus I've been doing this. So haters, the exit's that way.


Those that have played the countless games in the series know the Empires spin-offs/expansions/whatever you want to call 'em are usually the best thanks to the infusion of some of the basic elements of the Nobunaga's Ambition and/or Romance of the Three Kingdoms strategy games, albeit far more simply and with more direct control over the flow of battle. That's a good thing, as it adds a strategic element to which is otherwise incessant hammering of the Square button as you seek to level-up one of a bazillion different Chinese brawlers.

Though Empires technically uses the foundation of the vanila Dynasty Warriors 6 as a jumping-off point, meaning the same levels, characters and engine are being used, there are actually a few steps back in the flow of things. If you're using the new create-a-character mode to essentially unify China under the fictitious rule of a non-historical figure, you're actually starting off from scratch. You'll get some base stats based on fighting style, can pattern your moves and weapons off existing character, mix and match some costume bits (more of which are unlocked as you capture more areas and finish missions), pick a voice (and make it sickeningly childish or hilariously deep -- especially if it's a girl) and essentially go to down as you normally would. The Renbu system which allowed endless chains of attacks that would slowly upgrade is left behind here (though it can be upgraded eventually), but the basic flow of fighting is more fluid and ceaseless than the previous games with their branching normal/heavy attacks.

That's a good thing, as anyone who played through DW6 can attest, as is the ability to climb and swim around, but don't think this is some entirely new experience. It isn't, but the addition of a Risk-like bit of territorial control, some management of commands that allow you to boost attacks or defenses, troop numbers, weaken enemies or burn fortresses (among other things) keeps things varied from one round to the next. Factor in multiple seasonal meetings where overall policy is determined (read: multi-turn decrees can build funds or shift around resources at the cost of some of your given action points every month) and you have a game that's blessedly more than just running around and beating guys up.

Oh, that's the bulk of it, of course -- as is the act of capturing bases (which now gifts you with of inter-map territorial control in addition to having respawning health/musou pickups) -- but there's stuff to be done before you actually jump back into those familiar levels. These actions are actually different depending on the route you take. The fighters are split into multiple levels, from simple officers to lords that control actual territory to mercenaries that can choose to freely switch between those that control the land to help them or pit rulers against each other as a hired gun. Created characters actually start as these vagabonds, but with a single mission, they can choose to overthrow the ruling lord and control their fiefdom. It then becomes a game of land control, but this over-arching theme can be accomplished for someone else if you so choose, leaving the need to control policy out of things a little.
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