Welcome To The Three Kingdoms. Again.
In the same way that Western history revisits World War II over, and over and over again, Asia has an ongoing love affair with the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a 14th century novel that dramatized—and mythologized—the large scale historical campaigns that swept through China in the second and third centuries. And in the same way that Western developer Activision revisits war over and over again with Call of Duty, Koei has revisited the Romance with Dynasty Warriors. Now, the PS4 version, going by the mouthful Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition is out. And there’s really one reason to get it.
Same Old, Same Old
Dynasty Warriors 8 came out last year, as did its standalone expansion, Xtreme Legends. This PS4 debut combines both versions into one package, ensuring that PS4 owners don’t have to buy two games. It also carries over PS3 saves to the PS4 for returning players, but in all honesty, there’s not a whole lot of reason to do so.
The biggest issue with this PS4 version is that Tecmo-Koei has done the absolute minimum required to transition this game over to the latest generation of hardware. There’s a slight tweak to the resolution of textures, and obviously the overall performance and stability is better, but this is hardly Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition or even Assassin’s Creed IV, which at least took advantage of the processing power to add more particles and other volumetric effects. On initial glance, DW8 is easy to mistake for its PS3 counterpart; the port has been that unambitious. In a curious twist, while the other Omega-Force game on the Vita, Toukiden didn’t have the budget to support English voice acting, DW8 doesn’t offer Japanese voice acting, which is unfortunate since the English voice acting for the DW series has been uniformly bad, and this latest game is no exception.
That disappointing lack of improvement aside, this is the same pair of games it was on the PS3. DW8XLC is still an improved version of past DW games, and all the additional content from the Xtreme edition is here, including the Lu Bu scenario that is a big draw for fans of the Romance story. It’s going to take quite a while to plow through all the content, but it suffers the same problem as every other DW game, it’s catering primarily to a small fanbase that enjoys taking one person and sending him/her out into vast armies and pummeling a legion of nameless flunkies in ridiculously exaggerated “historical” battles, or else the fantastical/hypothetical battles which are just as unbelievable as the “real” ones. Granted, Dynasty Warriors 8 made some improvements to the series, which make it play better than its predecessors, but it’s still not quite the accessible, mainstream hit of titles like The Last of Us or Bioshock.
In the end, it’s difficult to recommend Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete to anybody. All the content here was available on the PS3 version, and the graphical upgrade isn’t as dramatic as other games. The only people who won’t scoff at the $60 asking price are the hardest of the hardcore fans that are looking for any excuse to play a DW game again. There’s a slight chance that PS4 owners, starved for games, will see this as yet another oasis in the drought (although the recent release of the much better Infamous would be a more sensible choice), but this is a competent, minimal port that does nothing to dramatically improve itself. If $60 for slightly better performance and no significant graphical upgrade but the same old gameplay is your thing, then consider Dynasty Warriors 8.