Being a huge Dynasty Warriors fan since DW2, I was definitely excited to see the release of Dynasty Warriors 4.  When I later learned about Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends I was excited, yet more than a bit skeptical.  What more could they add?  How could it be better?  Is it pretty much the same game?


In many respects it is the same game but there is definitely enough unique content to warrant a look at Dynasty Warriors 4 Xtreme Legends, especially for anyone who hasn’t played Dynasty Warriors 4.


 

The graphics for DW4XL are no different than DW4. This means that the graphics are still very good but have the same few problems as its predecessor. 


Animation is excellent; all moves look very spectacular.  Especially the double Musou attack made by two players in multiplayer mode…  Awesome!  Enemy officers display a very impressive emanation, like heat waves, if they are extremely pissed off at you. Weapon sparks fly through the air when an attack is deflected or matched.  I have always been impressed with the graphics in the DW series and this is no exception.


However, still present with the series are the graphical “anomalies.”  Especially when the screen is busy and full of enemies.  Bodies of enemy soldiers will disappear and reappear as you mow through enemy lines.  This is probably done on purpose to reduce the chances of any kind of frame rate delay.  Frame rate drops happen anyway, especially in multiplayer mode when both players are “musou-ing” through the hordes nearby.  Ironically, I personally like this effect as it dramatically slows down the action enough that you really get to see the devastation you are causing to enemy ranks.  Unfortunately, it IS a drop in frame rate, which is a big no-no in the graphical department.  Besides fixes to these problems, the only other improvement I’d like to see is the addition of more detailed choices in the “Create-an-Officer” of Edit Mode.

IDENTICAL to DW4.  No more or less.  For those of you who haven’t played DW4:
 
Music in the menu parts of the game are really neat Chinese style ballads with bit of rock spice added. In game action music is all heavy lead rock guitar music.  The heavy rock definitely fits and is a staple of the Dynasty Warrior series, but it is so repetitive and distinctive that it has almost become a cliché.


Voice-overs are reminiscent of old dubbed kung fu movies, which is actually pretty cool if you ask me. Battle sounds always make you feel you are in the thick of battle with shouts, screams, weapon clangs and screaming arrows.  Everything is crystal clear and fits excellently with the game.

Again, no different than DW4.  Battle controls are intuitive and easy to use.  By using combinations of the square and triangle you can string together attack moves each with its own strengths and weaknesses.  Add in the X button for a jump move or two and really pump it up with the Musou attack on the circle button.  Use the other buttons to shoot the bow and align the camera.  The buttons are laid out wonderfully, but if you don’t agree go into the Options menu and change them to your liking.

Dynasty Warriors 4 Xtreme Legends adds a bunch of new content to the series and raises the bar in difficulty and challenge.  In addition, for those that already have Dynasty Warriors 4, DW4XL works as a companion/expansion disk for the original, with each gaining minor benefits from the other.


The main Musou and Free modes are now gone and have been replaced with Xtreme Mode and Legend Mode.  Legend Mode allows the player to choose a famous historical warrior and play out a historical battle that that warrior was centrally involved in.  This is the only mode available with multiplayer support – a big downer for anyone that intends to play the series with a buddy, like myself.  It is fun to play with a friend though, despite the fact that you just don’t get that progressive accomplishment feeling you’d normally get when playing the long Musou campaign mode in DW4.  I actually really enjoyed this mode for its historical value.  Every scenario has a short blurb on the history of the warrior and his or her important accomplishments.  Unlike DW4, you don’t have to unlock any of the officers in DW4XL; all of the officers are available for you to use.  You can however, unlock level 11 weapons and use them in both DW4 and DW4XL!


The other major mode is Xtreme mode; a role-playing type mode where you play through randomly generated missions where you earn points to improve your stats for the next mission.  You can pick up officers to fight with you along the way but the only thing your friend can do in this mode is watch you play (i.e. no multiplay).  I really loved this mode and played it quite a bit single player, but what I really craved was to play this mode with a buddy.  Next time Koei, next time!


DW4XL also has challenge and versus modes which toss in some nice small challenges for single and two player modes.  Both of these modes can also be found in Dynasty Warriors 4.  DW4XL still contains the great build-up feature for all officers, including those that you decide to make yourself.  If you have DW4 you can even import your DW4 officer data straight from the memory card.


When all is said and done, Dynasty Warriors 4 Xtreme Legends is just more of what the series is known for. Huge expanses of battlefield PACKED with hundreds or thousands of enemy soldiers all waiting for you to put the smack down on them, with the occasional duel or secret mission and an unbelievable amount of adrenaline action.

Dynasty Warriors 4 Xtreme Legends comes with plenty of content and isn’t just an expansion pack.  However, at its heart, DW4XL is fundamentally the same game as DW4, so owners of the first must really like the series or want a more challenging version in order to be motivated to buy DW4XL.  In the end, DW4XL is at least ten bucks cheaper than the average game so those that don’t own DW4 have no excuse.  Hell, if you don’t have either both can be found fairly cheap so you could have both titles for around $50. 

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