For someone that absolutely loves repetitively beating dudes up, the Dynasty Warriors (Shin Sangokumuso) series never really clicked with me. I’d blame it on the fact that it doesn’t center on punks with lead pipes or any form of brash vigilantism, but it’s definitely not the setting that turns me off. Maybe I watched too many friends hopelessly lost to its endless button-mashing throughout college; stuck forever on the fields of battle while trying to unlock every character on the roster. Even the Gundam name wasn’t enough to pull me in for good.
That said, I think I found a solution, even if it’s only temporary, to my Warrior woes. Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce squeezes all of that action into a portable package on PSP, but that’s not the only reason I find it more palatable than its older brothers. The entire package is a fairly solid customizable experience that, aside from some screen-cracking difficulty issues, makes DW seem less like a chore and more like something I may actually want to revisit down the line.
Let’s not write off the portability, though. That’s certainly one of the reasons I spent so much time invading heavily guarded fortresses and attempting the same missions over and over again. The tedium wears quickly when it’s just you and the television set, but the freedom of picking it up in any room—even, just admit it folks, the bathroom—makes those sometimes lengthy assaults much more bearable.
Strikeforce centers on a hub town, which allows you to upgrade your armory, purchase items, accept missions and side-quests, and upgrade the city through finding and leveling warriors that apply to different aspects of the town. It also serves as a central location for multiplayer connection, bringing a total of four players into the mix, and even one more hand can help a lot when it comes to the increasingly brutal main quest.
Maybe I’m rusty, or I just haven’t been… warrior-ing long enough. I don’t know, but Strikeforce can be pretty callous toward my shattered feelings at times. It’s enjoyable in a masochistic way, but I can just picture all of the kiddies weened on the more recent era of dumbed-down difficulties throwing a fit when they first encounter an arena of wind-spinning wizards that have no qualms with just straight up thrashing your warrior in record time. On one hand, it’s refreshing to suffer the occasional, well-deserved beat down, but it’s also dangerous to pack so much frustration inside a system that can easily be loosed from my hands and tossed all the way to the other end of my apartment in one split second of clouded judgment.
It wouldn’t be too stressful if it wasn’t compounded by the task of wrestling with a camera that’s the Ultimate Warrior of jerk cameras. Locking on to enemies soothes this a bit, but heated scuffles will still almost always seem like they’re going down in the middle of a hurricane. Maybe it’s a sub-game in itself to see how long you can zip around the same flying enemies without blowing chunks. I certainly wouldn’t call the camera a deal breaker, but it comes shamefully close.
At its core, Strikeforce is still very much Dynasty Warriors, for what that’s worth. As much fun as I’ve had with it, keep in mind that it follows the same formula, and is still based on the same repetitive hook of knocking hundreds of soldiers about with a sprawling arsenal of melee and range weapons. The variety is very much there, though, and is more likely to convert a few skeptics than any of the console iterations I’ve played. Fans should be doubly pleased at the ability to haul DW around wherever they go, and it doesn’t get much more obsessive than the contents of this package.
Developer: Omega Force