Dynasty Warriors was symbiotic with the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 generation of consoles. The PlayStation 2 breathed life into an idea that was capitalised upon by Koei. And subsequently refined time-and-time-again thanks to a hugely successful series of sales peaks in Japan. In a strange twist, the series was also released in western territories where it was continually well received, and garnered many a hardcore fan throughout its numerous updates and spin-offs. One of these associated titles was the first to arrive the then-next-generation console: Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires.

Dynasty Warriors: Empires is a spin-off series that brings with it the addition of a largely strategic pre-battle element. A map is divided into several territories, each under control of a different General. Through planning, alliances and invasions, the objective the player is faced with is simply to conquer all of these territories. As the strategy element is the main addition to the title, it does appear quite forthright with its intentions. Dynasty Warriors is more than a basic hack-n’-slash.

Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires screenshot

Dynasty Warriors Becomes More than 1 vs. 100 Combat

When in control of territories, each will have a source of revenue and command structure for your personal use. After each battle (or skipped battle) the funding collected from all territories under your command will be collated for your use. This, coupled with your available amount of ‘orders’ – again, increasing as more Territories come under your control – dictate just what may be possible. A wide variety or orders is available. Searches for more generals for your army, item production, upgrade or development, general training, reinforcements, territory defence improvements, strategies for use mid-battle and even some free tasks which may increase your funds. Selecting the right orders at the right time is as imperative to your campaign as – should you not be inclined to form alliances with rival generals – any territories which denote access from a rival’s will be open to attack.

Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires screenshot

Lead from the Back

Many of the orders available will offer themselves as a simple basic requirement. Replenishing a general’s troops after a hard-fought battle is essential. As will be producing certain items in order to convince new generals to join forces with you. But others will automatically become a simple decision of play preference.

Strategies such as ‘poison enemy’ (which, when used in battle, cuts the enemies forces by almost half) and ‘neutral start’ (selected prior to battle, and creates a battlefield with only one base for each attacking and defending generals, with the rest remaining neutral) are common choices when invading an enemy territory. Whereas defending may often call for strategy choices such as ‘shorten time’ (cut five minutes from the AI time to capture your main camp) and ‘force march’ (allows player’s troops to move at a quicker pace) may be used in order to halt the enemy before they cause too much trouble.

Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires screenshot

Lead from the Front

Of course, Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires is still a Dynasty Warriors game. The ability to enter battle on horseback or atop an elephant has not been forgotten, and the items list is now quite extensive. They must now be produced in the pre-battle phase, using one of your orders, then assigned to your general on the ‘Battle Set-Up’ screen. At the same time as selecting the correct strategies you wish to use.

The combat is as affluent as ever and, while no tangible difference was on offer with the step into the then-next-generation, the combat does still feel weighted and stylised. Each of the 250 generals of which you can take command feel unique. While many may be sharing animation cycles, no two will be one 100% identical. The combat consists of basic strikes, charge attacks and Musou Meter to perform a Mosou Attack. It’s all very familiar, for better and worse.

Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires screenshot

Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires is Mind over Matter

Graphically, there is very little to set the title apart from its PlayStation 2 sister-release. A small amount of improvement with the draw-distance and a few more troops on-screen isn’t the most heart-warming of updates. It falls far short of the likes of Full Auto and Dead or Alive 4, which released in similar time frames. The sound quality is respectable, but again, little had changed from the PlayStation 2 release.

Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires is a concept that has great worth. The combat is more than reliable, but it’s the strategy element that rings new bells. It’s positioned as a light relief from the frantic assaults on the X, Y and B Buttons. However, in truth it becomes very addictive. Often to the point where you’ll become more involved in building your organisation than conquering the land. Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires delivered compelling strategy in an approachable format. So well did it perform, that even modern successor Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires couldn’t quite live up to it.

Categories: Games