Gamestyle Archive intro: so far when piecing together this archive we’ve noticed that reviews prior to 2001 are extremely rare. So we’re pleased to be able to bring you this PlayStation 2 review of Dynasty Warriors 2 which dates from around November 2000. It also marks the debut piece in the archive from Dan Kelly who was a mainstay of the Gamestyle team during the early days.
Published: November 2000
You courageously rampage up a hill, tightly clutching your weapon in your hand. Your heart is racing as the adrenaline pumps through your body. But suddenly you are ground to a halt as the enemy appears through the dense fog in large numbers. But fortunately for you this isn’t a situation that a good button mashing won’t get you out of. Welcome to Dynasty Warriors 2.
China, 2nd century AD, is stricken with war as the Han Dynasty comes to an end, and the two leaders of the Yellow Turban Rebellion, He Jin and Dong Zhuo, seize this opportunity to take control of China. But their rule is short-lived as the land is torn apart by warlords, each one battling to gain supreme power over the dynasty. But amidst all this chaos, three men stand above the rest. Cao Cao of the Wei kingdom, Sun Qian of the Wu kingdom, and Liu Bei of the Shu kingdom. These 3 men, along with their fearless generals will battle each other, all desperately seeking control over the whole of the land.
This period of war in China would later be known as the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It is your task to help one of these warlords achieve his dream. There are two modes of play in Dynasty Warriors 2, Free mode and Musou mode. Free mode allows you to replay previously unlocked levels from Musou mode. But Musou mode is where you will inevitably be spending most of your time. You select one warrior from an initial selection of nine, three from each of the kingdoms, to battle through 5 massive stages to fulfil your warlord’s ambition for ultimate control over China, and to also develop your character. Development of your character is needed if you want your journey through the slightly harder later levels to be easier, and is essential if you want to stand a chance against the practically invincible Lu Bu. Character development is attained through disposing of the various enemy generals scattered throughout the battlefield, who leave swords and shields which increase your stats, upon their demise. Successful completion of all 5 stages unlocks a new general from your chosen kingdom, and with over 20 playable characters, your gonna be around a long time if you plan to unlock them all. But will you want to?
Gameplay wise, it’s mainly a case of hammering the buttons to perform jump attacks and various combos. The controls are easy to get a grasp of, and you’ll be whupping enemies by the hundred in no time. One button for weak attack, one for strong attack, another for jumping and mounting horses, and the final button for unleashing the Musou attack. The Musou attack is a special move, which clears everyone around you, but this needs to be built up before it can be used, by filling up the Musou charge bar, mucho fun. But the soundtrack, oh god. You can just imagine KOEI telling some ponce from an 80’s rock band that he could do the soundtrack, but they only allowed him to use the bottom two strings of his guitar. Beware it will cause your ears to bleed. Morale also plays a large role in the course of the battle. If an enemy general is slain there is a sudden boost in your forces morale. But a loss of an ally general causes the opposite effect. A high morale causes your men to storm around the battlefield destroying anything in their path. Low morale causes them to just stand around doing nothing, or even cause them to run away. But after killing a few hundred of the enemy, using the same limited number of combos and attacks, the game becomes somewhat tedious.
Also, seeing as most levels last over an hour, you’ll often find yourself in need of a friend to slap you across the face as your vision begins to double and your head starts flopping all over the place. There’s often an insane amount of people on screen at any one time, and there isn’t even the slightest hint of slow-down, which is one of the lovely things about this game. But it has some of the worst fogging you will ever see to achieve this, and boy is it ugly. You will often find yourself surrounded all of a sudden, because you couldn’t see beyond the fog, and that’s when you’ll realise how alone, and dead you are. Scenery and obstacles will obscure your view at times, and this can get annoying because you won’t be able to make out what is happening. You’ll end up getting the pasting of your life because of a few irritating niggles within the game.
There are some lovely cut-scenes and FMV sequences, but it appears that this was the main focus of attention when they developed the game, when they should’ve concentrated more on the gameplay. But any game where you kill 800 people and think you had a mediocre battle can’t be that bad. It is enjoyable at times, and it would be pleasing to the eye if you could only ignore the fogging. It was an idea that had massive potential, but unfortunately wasn’t fully realised.
Gamestyle Score 5/10