Friday, February 10, 2012

10.000 Samurai

It's hard to critique a MMO game which has been out for some time and gone through a series of patches and game scenarios. I found however, the free-to-play Dynasty Warriors Online (Heavenly Strike), to be almost irresistible, as the original series was one of the most enduring and appealing on the PS2.

MMORPGs are so ubiquitous, with ads for them on virtually every gaming or technology site, that they have become a force to be reckoned with and a veritable social phenomenon. Whether browser-based or downloadable, they are already defining the path of future game offerings.

DWO conocerns itself with button-mashing, combo-stringing, to some extent, as in any given battle you can rack up more than 600 AI enemy kills on your own. Yet it's tremendous fun, based on a pre-existing engine which accommodates many in-game characters. The engine also sports good textures and nice weather effects. You can of course acquire items for your character and level up; I made mine look like Geralt of Rivia.
The camp factor is rather high. The fact that most NPCs move back and forth as if dancing while they stand, coupled with the Sega-like music, may be disliked by some. I'm certain there is a story here, but it's not entirely clear which it might be, other than factions vying for power; some of which are more populated than others, as DWO had its heyday some time ago. The AI enemies tend to swarm you, but that's ok, as you feel like Neo vs. the multiple Smiths in the famed Burly Brawl movie scene.
One of the main objectives is capturing enemy bases, and the tutorials focus on variations of this scenario. There's an honor system which allows you to make rank, which in turn allows you to finally go on campaigns with human friends and foes. Your AI lieutenant will be of great help here, particularly in attaining the coveted Lt. Major rank; or the beginning of your "pro" career, as it is then that other game areas are opened up.
The best course of action is to join guilds, of which there are many, accommodating different levels of progress. It's no use to scan the forums for such an endeavor, the game's menu works far more efficiently. I initially signed up under emperor Liu Bei, who has the least amount of faction soldiers; quite the underdogs. Yet the game is still populated enough, especially on the weekends, when events are held. All in all, you get to experience the Dynasty Warriors universe in the online arena; massive battles certainly go very well with the MMO model.