Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dynasty Warriors 8 XL (PS3) Review

An expansion to last year's game, Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends (XL) adds 5 new characters, each with their own weapon type, new theoretical stages, additional Ambition Mode content and a story mode for one of the game's most notorious characters, Lu Bu.  Importing a save from the base game will allow you to retain your character levels, progress, weapons and money.  Well worth doing if you played Dynasty Warriors 8 (and you should, check the past review here, which also explains the combat in more detail).

After all these years and iterations of the game, Lu Bu finally gets his own story mode.  It's well done, and is pretty much possible because they made Chen Gong (and Lu Bu's daughter) playable characters.  Chen Gong's weapon is a bamboo scroll, and his charge attacks summon phantom soldiers for various attacks.  It's not a bad weapon, but not as great as it sounds.  Its storm rush is amazing though.  Lu Bu's daughter, Lu Lingqi, uses the cross pike, which was Lu Bu's revamped weapon in DW6.  I actually liked that weapons in 6, but it's not quite as good here.  The other added characters are Yu Jin for Wei, Zhu Ran for Wu and Fa Zheng for Shu.  Yu Jin and his trident are my favorite of the bunch, as his weapons is really good.  Fa's cloth is interesting but not too strong, and Zhu's flame bow is...well, I don't really like it.

Besides Lu Bu's story and hypothetical routes, there are new hypothetical stages added for the other four kingdoms.  If you convert the save file from DW8, you can also play the story stages of those kingdoms.  Of course, within the added stages are more feats to accomplish to unlock some of the stages.  There has also been new content added to Ambition mode.  Easily my favorite part of the vanilla game, I was eager to try it out.  Sadly, the additional stuff isn't as good as the standard Ambition mode, as it involves a lot of grinding.  It's much more similar to the core of Dynasty Warriors, since they are actual battles, not just small scale ones, but you have to do them on the harder difficulties, or complete them quickly multiple times to unlock another one.  Then repeat that over and over again to unlock them all and subjugate all the regions.  While I'm happy they extended Ambition mode, the extension just isn't as good.

There's some other changes or additions, like Leadership experience.  Before, you could equip any officer unlocked in Ambition mode as a bodyguard.  Up to 3 can be equipped now, but each has a cost.  Your character's leadership level determines the max value that you can equip.  Purposefully, the playable officers each cost over the default max, so you will have to level it up to start having Dian Wei or Zhao Yun follow you around and help out.  It sadly can't be leveled up in Ambition mode, but can in Free mode by ordering around your bodyguards.  Another addition to the game is gems used for weapon fusion.  You can now easily transfer skills from one weapon to another in order to make super beefy weapons.  You have to earn the gems, a few at a time, from Ambition mode fights or free mode.  It would have been nice to have the ability to purchase some, since I still have lots of money left over from DW8, and not much to do with it.

The trophy list has a few "first time" ones, for fusing a weapon and other functions of the game.  A lot of the others involve putting many hours into the game, such as beating every stage on the hardest difficulty, getting the highest ranking on each stage, and getting every feat in them, too.  If you didn't convert your save from DW8, it will take even longer, since you won't have the boosted levels, weapons or money to hit the ground running.  The overall list is a bit end-heavy for my taste, but since they assume you will port over your save, they couldn't make them tons of trophies pop for doing very little.

If you enjoy Dynasty Warriors 8 and long to continue the experience, the Xtreme Legends expansion is worth the money.  The added story mode and stages will keep you occupied for several hours, and the revamped Ambition mode, while not as good, while also add many hours for you to play.  If you don't have Dynasty Warriors 8 and have either a PS4 or a Vita, I'd recommend just getting the DW8 Complete Edition, so you get both the core game and the expansion.  The file for just the expansion is a massive 26GB on PS3, so I have no idea how big the complete editions are.  So... you might want to track down a physical copy.

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