The Answer would be a Diamond, in the rough that is. not a very well known game regardless of the "DW" name. its without a doubt my most played game in this current generation of gaming ever since its release in 2009. i've got atleast 200 hours on this game!
I don't buy very much KOEI made games but after this one im looking out for anything they release for any console out right now except the Wii and DS since i don't like those two. everything else though is very much welcomed.
I've had this game since 2009 but will review it now since i think i've finally gotten abit bored after all this time. (thats how fun its been to me)
At anyrate time for the actual review itself.
I. Presentation ~ The vibe from this game is very china related, which i dont care for at all, this is actually the main thing that kept me away from this series for the longest time, however the actual armor available in the game, combined with the english voice acting (which i prefer over whatever else is available) and the actual battle zones its a very neat game, the UI is nice with a almost FF like menu system. you know before FFXIII and FFXIV came out AKA the worst FF games ever.
II. Graphics ~ This is where things get mixed, i was not impressed with the graphics (at first) however since theres sooooooo many enemies on screen at once, (im talking by the thousands! not hundreds!) the graphics quality is understandable to some extent, there's also Character Creation which if your a gamer who plays alot of RPG games means graphics normally take a punch, it was the same with WKC earlier in 2010. Maps are HUGE, im talking really big for the most part, its almost like a free roaming sandbox game only cut into slices of awesome, however most areas to look rather poor in quality, textures for the ground, mountains, cobble stone in cities n' towns, wooden areas etc.. all look very unimpressive theres a better word for it but im to lazy to think of it right now.
Also the water in this game is "UGLY" did not like the rivers or ocean. very dull and lifeless looking, they could have done better here, oh and also im pretty sure there aren't any physics in this game, i think its engine based physics which look very.. unrealistic.
III. Sound ~ Sound effects for sword slashes all the way to the cling' and the clang are all fairly decent, all sound is high quality, but (theres always a but and here it comes) impact on enemies your actually hacking away at sound oldschool somehow, like a 2D fighting game or PS2 game, true and real slashing and bashing effects like SCIV as a good example are almost entirely absent, there are realistic sound effects such as when you get into a deadlock with another main character (known as officers) which is when you and another character lock swords for a limited amount of time until someone ultimately wins. it has amazing realistic sword/metal sounds scarping against eachother until it leads into a fantasy like explosion.
Oh and the OST was okay at first but after awhile the music got very irritating, so i just turned it off, it would have been an' even better game if they allowed custom music for it on the PS3 version but alas, the 360 version has custom soundtrack but PS3 doesn't, its a pretty big deal but with music off you can actually hear all the lovely nature sound effects like birds chirping, the wind howling, the sand the snow! mmmm the the best part the storm raining down with lightning and thunder. relaxing.
IV. Gameplay ~ Fast-paced action, lots of mashing of the square button (hack n' slash button) however there is actually more to it then just slashing away at thousands of poorly rendered soldiers, there are 4 unique magic-like moves you can pull off later during the game as you unlock more powers & abilities such as Fire which is a straight-forward moving firebolt like move, and later get a stronger version called Flames, which is a wide range stronger move then fire. thats only just one example though, theres actually quite alot going on here then just mindless attacking.
Also this game has something that "NO OTHER GAME HAS" that i have played before, like ever.. you have the choice to create ALOT of original created characters, with there own unique voices, traits, body type, hair style, face, armor and cloths, name, and even ARMY! but wait its about to get even better, all original characters that "YOU" created are all playable in Empire mode, there also encounterable as enemies and allies, meaning you can have your own created characters apart of your army if you chose to rule, its really neat, it really gives you the freedom of building your own crusade, and with the versatile amount of custom gear, it feels less like china and more like some sort of twisted around fantasy kingdom.
The Negative part to this though is the amount of Main Characters AKA "Officers" that can be assigned at once per battle.. its only 4! you can have up to 10 to 12 officers in 1 battle if i recall but only 4 of them can be main characters or original created characters, the rest are always generic class type characters with annoying voice overs that never shut up.
However on the plus side you can create your own storyline in the "A land in Chaos" Mode sits it implies its set in a fictional kingdom and not in china, therefore giving you the chance to be creative and sort of craft your own game, hey its as close as it gets to actually making your own game or modding it. which was the main thing i liked about it since i always wanted to make my own game with my own original characters, and with this mode and level of character creation i could!
Finally this game is 2 players, yes you know what that means, it has Co-op mode! however as a result if you play this mode with a buddy, Graphic Quality and Detail seems to be reduced by quite a noticeable amount during co-op, and to add more negativity to this, its offline co-op online, so you cant jump online to take your created army with you, you have to keep it solo. Still atleast offline co-op is something giving it more value.
Ah and yes also forgot to mention the basic combat, you can strike by mashing sqaure up to a certain amount of times, i think its 10 or more square mash buttons until you go into an unlimited combo mode where you attack endlessly, you can only do this endless attack when you level up your weapon to max (10.) if not your combo will be normal and will increase as you level your weapon up by 2. so.. 2 > 4 > 6 > 8 > 10 (max) gives you a new combo until it goes endless.
Then there's the musou gauge which is basiclly like your Super move, which is almost unique to each character, some are shared with slight changes. this move can also be stringed into a major combo but a far stronger one. aside from that you can do dodge moves, blocks, lock-on walking, counter attacks which include Light Counters and Powerful Counters while holding the guard button then pressing square (normal) or triangle (powerful)when your enemy attacks with your guard up.
And finally, this last part of combat i discovered 1 year later from 2009 to 2010 i laughed so much when it was so simple to use but was very useful thus spraking my want to play this game again, the move in question? Grapple moves which for most work more like really strong (does alot of damage to a single foe but for some characters it still attacks like an AoE skill) also ALL Grapple moves are exclusive to each character or CAW characters style.
V. Lasting Value ~ For me, a person who loves character creation and freedom, aswell as lots of hectic action and hacking n' slashing thrown in with a semi-sandbox fictional world, this is damn near exactly the perfect game for me, it could use alot of improvements and more versatile weapon styles or better yet, Custom Weapon Styles, but hey for what its worth it was an amazing ride, i look forward to empires 7 whenever that comes out.
VI. Extras ~ After about 5 play throughs you can unlock almost everything in the game, unlockables range from art, color costumes for main characters (that cant actually be used in empire mode) music, and battle points to make things easier in other loaded games.
VII. Conclusion ~ I wasn't expecting this game to be much fun at first to be honest, since i never really gave DW games a chance but with so much customizable things and fun gameplay it was a very good buy in the end, i will still be playing this game a good amount until empires 7 comes out.
Final Notes: There are a few things i'd just like to say before i end this review that bothered me aswell as found uniquely in some ways.
I. Most grass and vegetation would disappear when you get to close to them, not all but alot. glitch? Also Save Data is locked, something happens to the data or the PS3 there goes all your hardwork. this has actually happened once to me, sadly it was the latter.
II. Whatever your rulers main color scheme is (Armor/cloths) your army does not seem to follow, the default always seems to be blue or red even if your black or purple. this is something i hope they change in empires 7.
III. More horses would have been nice.
IV. More Magic elements would have been very nice, we only have nature, fire, ice, and wind, lightning and other elements only come in the form of weapon enhancements or horse abilities.
V. More weapons for each weapon style used, only having 1 type of weapon per style really doesn't give this game full customizability.
VI. Customizable Music list from your PS3's MUSIC section next time around.
VII. Higher jumping and double jump would have been very useful, also they need to add a better list of mid-air attacks.
VIII. Better war tactics other then commanding your troops and officers or sneak attacks its good but more options would be nice.
IX. To have the option to switch between main characters (officers) during battle, making it more like an action RPG.
X. And lastly More Character Creation options, i have quite the imagination, this game is able to let me express myself to an epic level but it could have been alot better.