Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce PSP
Published by: Koei
Developed by: Omega Force
The Dynasty Warriors series often receives criticism for sticking a little too closely to its tried and trusted formula. Some of this criticism is rather harsh as the series continues to sell well and satisfy its loyal fans. Every now and again some significant changes are made however. I like what Koei and Omega Force did with the "Empires" versions for instance and personally I prefer those over the other versions in the series. Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce sees the series receiving some alterations with a special focus on multiplayer action.
You'll begin the game by choosing which "Force" you wish to represent. Each of these Forces offers a range of fighters to play as. In total there are around 35 characters you can initially choose from. Once you've picked your character you'll find yourself in a village. The village will act as your hub in Strikeforce and it's here you'll reside between missions. This gives the game a kind of Monster Hunter feel which is both surprising (although it shouldn't be given the crazy popularity that the series has enjoyed on the PSP) and refreshing.
There are nine facilities (Gatekeeper, Notice board, Market, Blacksmith, Workshop, Academy, Exchange, Storehouse and Shrine) in the village that you can make use of. The Academy allows you to use materials (materials are acquired during the course of the missions) to acquire Chi skills. The Workshop allows you to use materials to make orbs and these can be added to your weapons in order to give the weapon a particular effect or enhance your character's abilities. The Notice board allows you to take side missions, which are rated out of five for their difficulty, when you feel like taking a break from the main storyline. When you want to take story related missions you'll simply visit the Gatekeeper. Most of the facilities can be upgraded by officer cards that you'll acquire from characters who visit the village.
Omega Force haven't lost sight of the fact that you're probably not going to want to participate in missions that last as long as those in the console versions of Dynasty Warriors. In Strikeforce, the battles are short and snappy affairs lasting only a few minutes which makes them perfect to play during those short journey rides. You're not faced with quite so many enemies but that works out well. What is pleasing however is that the enemies seem as though they are determined to stop you and seem more active than in previous games in the series. You'll have the ability to change between two weapons (which can be equipped prior to commencement of a battle) and of course you can still perform musou attacks.
As a single-player experience Strikeforce is enjoyable but eventually very challenging. The game doesn't just offer a single-player experience however and you can be joined by up to three others (who each must own a copy of the game). Playing through the missions with friends definitely makes the experience a better one and it's also a less frustrating one when the missions rise in difficulty. Unfortunately, only Ad Hoc multiplayer is supported so unless you have friends or relatives who also have a copy of the game it's probably unlikely that you'll get to experience one of the more pleasing aspects of the game.
One of the few complaints with the game has to be the loading times. They are not overly long, for the most part, but some will be disappointed by them. It has to be said however that the UMD drive is the culprit here and there have been quite a lot of PSP games that have had insanely long load times as a result of the slow drive. The ability to install 300MB of data to your memory stick has been included and this will dramatically shorten the load times. I'm not sure if this is the first game to include such an option but it's certainly an option that should be included with future PSP games that are going to have long load times.
Strikeforce's presentation is actually rather good. Graphically the game isn't as good as the PlayStation 2 Dynasty Warriors title but it looks good enough on the PSP's screen. The maps you'll fight on are quite simplistic in their layout but there is a fair amount of variation in the terrain to prevent things from getting too repetitive. The rather impressive cinematic sequences are subtitled so you'll be able to appreciate the dialogue in them. Tutorial messages are given in text and you can read them at your own pace. The dialogue in the cutscenes doesn't have any character names or portraits accompanying the subtitles. In other parts of the game you will find character portraits and names placed alongside the dialogue however.
Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce is a game that should please those who were hoping for some changes to the series. That's not to say there have been major changes to the series' formula but the changes made in Strikeforce make the game more suitable for playing on the move and equally enjoyable as both a single and multiplayer experience. Strikeforce is certainly one of the more interesting Dynasty Warriors games in recent times and it's one that fans of the series will really enjoy.