The Heavy Metal Matador (rydain) wrote,
The Heavy Metal Matador

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Dynasty Warriors 7. What hath KOEI wrought?

I've written at length about my fondness for the Dynasty Warriors series and my hopes for the latest installment, which we've just begun to hear about. Long story short - it's far more than just a beat 'em up. The older games embraced their historical setting well enough to be my gateway drug into research and fiction writing.

I wanted more of that in the newer ones, more weight and depth and detail. I'm losing hope that we'll get it - and that the series will grow in the way I was praying it would.

Flash back seven years to Dynasty Warriors 4. I didn't follow the gaming news before it came out. I didn't even play it all that much. 5 was the installment that got me hooked. So I didn't get the full impact of seeing the three new characters in all their unfamiliar context - first as released images, then within the game itself. Perhaps that's good for this discussion because it removes nostalgia from the equation.

At any rate, I recently found this picture of the DW4 adds that I'd never seen before. It struck me. Hard. Even 7 years later. Even though I know each character quite well by now.

Yue Ying, Cao Ren, Zhou Tai. Fantastic adds. Iconic adds. Each brings a unique presence and another dimension to the setting. Yue Ying's husband, Zhuge Liang, is basically Oz the Great and Terrible of the Three Kingdoms era. Ying is clearly his intellectual equal, and she keeps him human instead of annoyingly perfect. Cao Ren has a somber streak and a contemplative focus on peace, bringing respectability to an army formerly presented as ambitious one-note Bad Guys. Zhou Tai may be a strong, silent badass, but there's no one else like him in the game. He reminds us that the kingdom of Wu isn't just about the Sun family. As an ex-pirate who became Sun Quan's most trusted bodyguard, Tai reinforces the anti-classist vibe of Wu.

Of course, you don't see all of that in the picture. But the artwork gives each character a strong sense of belonging and purpose, a sense of realism and maturity, an aesthetic all their own. You may wonder who they are, but it's an optimistic curiosity. Not "Who the hell is that, and what did they do with someone who deserves to be in here?"

Jump back to reality - oh, there goes gravity, and does it ever. What are we getting for Dynasty Warriors 7?

Tee-hee! Let's go to the beach and be bestest friends!

Tidus needs to go blitz off in his own game

I don't mind characters like this - in some JRPG where they belong, and where those cutesy and dudebro archetypes are expected. In a gameverse representing a unique flavor of fantastic Chinese history? Oh hell no DO NOT WANT. Granted, Tidus' Disco Stu getup has some nice period influence. But his overall presence is a generic pastiche rather than a figure who seems to fulfill a unique purpose in the Three Kingdoms narrative.

I wasn't speculating on which historical or folk tale figure each character might represent. I wasn't chomping at the bit to know more about them. Instead I desperately hoped that they were examples from the create-a-warrior feature. I still wonder if enough Is Not can change the future and stuff.
Tags: general bullshit, rants, video games: dynasty warriors
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