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Dynasty Warriors 5 Xtreme Legends PlayStation 2

Published by Koei
Developed by Koei
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £24.99

Dynasty Warriors 5 Xtreme Legends, an introduction.

When it comes to mass combat action games the series that stands head and shoulders above the rest for many gamers is Dynasty Warriors. Like the other hugely popular series from Koei, Dynasty Tactics and Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dynasty Warriors is based on the historical Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel. Like those other games the focus is on ancient Chinese warriors and their battles. Unlike the turn-based nature of those other series though, the Dynasty Warriors games offer epic real-time battles against hundreds of enemies. Here we have the latest title in the series, Dynasty Warriors 5 Xtreme Legends.

What's the game about?

Dynasty Warriors 5 Xtreme Legends is essentially a game for those who have enjoyed Dynasty Warriors 5 and want extra content and modes to play with. The game's a whole £15 cheaper than Dynasty Warriors 5 and it's perfectly fine to enjoy the game on its own without owning a copy of Dynasty Warriors 5. In fact we hadn't played Dynasty Warriors 5 so we've reviewed the game in isolation rather than commenting on how well it compliments Dynasty Warriors 5. Dynasty Warriors 5 XL offers a Legend Mode, an Xtreme Mode, a Challenge Mode, an Edit Mode and a Destiny Mode. There's also an Encyclopedia which gives you information on the game's key characters and some of the events from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms as well as a Camp mode that allows you to use the power-ups and items on the various characters in the game. The game also offers additional rare items ( including those from Dynasty Warriors 5) as well as a new novice difficulty level.

What's good about the game?

Whilst Dynasty Warriors 5 XL offers several new modes the pick of them has to be the Destiny Mode. Here you'll create your own character (male or female) and choose which of the 48 commanders to serve under. Once that's done you'll have a few skill points to distribute. There are quite a few skills, divided up into 8 categories, that can be learnt to improve your character who initially begins with virtually no abilities. Before jumping into battle you'll get to choose what objectives you wish to undertake. You'll be able to choose objectives such as kill a certain number of enemies, find a certain number of objectives or maintain a certain level of health. Should you complete a battle you'll be given bonus skill points for the objectives that you've completed so it pays to take on as many as you can. As you progress in Destiny Mode you'll gain promotions, better weapons, items and even men under your command. In all it's a very enjoyable mode. The fact that the story twists and turns and that it's possible to change allegiances also makes it compelling.

Other highlights include the game's Challenge Mode, the Edit Mode and the Camp Mode. Challenge Mode consists of a variety of challenge types, Time Attack, Bridge Melee, Sudden Death, Rampage, Gatekeeper etc., for you to undertake. Picking a Bridge Melee challenge for example sees you having to knock as many enemies off the bridge as possible in 10 minutes whilst not being knocked off yourself. These challenges are just the thing when you want a quick play on the game and don't have enough time to dip into the other modes. Edit Mode allows you to create your own commanders whilst Camp Mode allows you to equip the commanders in the game with power-ups and rare items that you've found in Xtreme Mode. Dynasty Warriors 5 XL also has a new novice difficulty level which makes the game more accommodating to those who aren't used to mass combat action titles. The weapon system has also been refined with heavy weapons packing more of a wallop than in previous games, which makes a lot of sense.

What's not so good about the game?

The Xtreme Mode, which is a 1 or 2 player mode that tasks you with fighting as many continuous battles as possible with no automatic health replenishments in between (although health upgrades and other items can be purchased during battles), loses its appeal  fairly quickly. The Legend Mode, which offers a choice of 18 different battles for you to undertake, isn't really that inspiring either and most will probably only dabble with it. Both these modes aren't that bad in all honesty but aren't of the same quality as the Destiny Mode and probably won't hold your attention for long. The AI can seem a little erratic at times. This is especially noticeable in the Destiny Mode where you have to stay close to your commander in the early battles (as this provides you with health items which are essential when your character is weak) and you'll see his madman like movements as he appears to dash around in the most erratic fashion possible.

How does it look?

In terms of how the game looks, Dynasty Warriors 5 XL isn't really an improvement on the previous few games in the series but in fairness the visuals have probably been taken as far as they can on the PlayStation 2, so an advance in visual quality wasn't really expected. The combat remains a smooth experience throughout but the fairly short draw distances still exist. Enemies will still seemingly appear a virtual 100 yards in front of you during a battle and, when slain, enemies will simply disappear. The battles themselves look OK but the environments in which they are set do look a little bland. Realistically though most would have expected little difference in the visual quality and we are going to have to wait for the series to appear on a 'next-generation' console for the visual quality to make a jump.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Dynasty Warriors 5 XL is fine for deaf gamers. Most of the dialogue, and indeed all of the important dialogue, is shown in text. The comments you'll receive from your commander during the missions in the Destiny Mode are all shown in text as are the responses from your character. Objectives for all modes are shown in text too. The Xtreme Mode and Destiny Mode both have text based tutorials which are absolutely fine. Of course all of the information in the Encyclopedia is shown in text. Even when there is dialogue that isn't subtitled, such as comments from Shui Jing whilst you are creating your character in Destiny Mode, it doesn't cause any problems as all the relevant information is displayed in text. You also have to pick a voice for your character in Destiny Mode but again this is a feature that can be ignored without any problems.

Final thoughts.

Even though Dynasty Warriors 5 Xtreme Legends is an expansion for Dynasty Warriors 5, it's an enjoyable experience even if you don't own a copy of Dynasty Warriors 5 and at the price of £24.99 it's certainly good value. In fact with the addition of the new novice difficulty level it could also be argued that Dynasty Warriors 5 XL is more forgiving for newcomers to the series. The Destiny Mode is definitely the main attraction and will keep you busy for a long time to come. It's also worth mentioning that the game can load up your Dynasty Warriors 5 data but not having played that game it wasn't possible for us to see what extras that brings.

Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10

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Dynasty Warriors 5 Xtreme Legends is a great mass combat action game that even newcomers to the Dynasty Warriors series can enjoy.