Few games divide opinion like Dynasty Warriors. This isn't Marmite gaming; this is Marmite smeared on floral gums being eaten by Val Kilmer (to a Randy Newman soundtrack).Detractors dismiss Koei's battlefield sim as button-mashing with men in silly hats. Fans, on the other hand, like being a one-man army and doing it in a silly hat. Good/bad news: with its four-player focus, Dynasty Warriors VS has more silly hats than ever.
Dynasty Warriors VS is a companion series to Samurai Warriors (of 3DS's Chronicles fame). Where Samurai focuses on Japanese history, Dynasty retells China's Romance Of The Three Kingdoms. It retells it in the medium of hack 'n' slash, rendering complex battlefield manoeuvres as A-to-B murder sprees. Churning through generic troops whittles down the rival warlord's influence on the battlefield, making him vulnerable in a climactic one-on-one.
With battles traditionally lasting upwards of 20 minutes, the format isn't a natural candidate for multiplayer fun. To remedy this, Omega Force re-imagine the battlefield as a race to kill an AI general. Should warlords leg it to reach the target first? Or should they focus on seizing garrisons and strengthening their support army? Commanding certain buildings grants statistical boosts to the entire army - or can the effect be simulated by getting to power-ups first?
OMEGA MENStriking a balance of speed and power is at this game's heart. But what good is a heart without formidable fists to pump blood to? Recognising that their combat is too broad to satisfy as a straight man-on-man fighter, Omega Force introduce Musou Rush. Launching this special attack on a rival triggers a race to input a sequence of button prompts and analogue stick tweaks. The limber-fingered warlord who taps through first lands a devastating hit.
Co-operative play is also supported, with two-on-two and three-on-one options. Though who's stupid enough to volunteer to be the one against three? Allies can launch team attacks, special magics triggered when two characters stand side-by-side.
Whether you're a fan or not, there's no denying the Warriors games treat their followers well. Samurai Warriors is the only3DS title to deliver regular SpotPass content a year after release, a trick Dynasty Warriors promises to continue.
Fingers crossed we'll be inundated with a steady flow of silly hats...