Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce
God Of War creator David Jaffe, who we respect a lot for obvious reasons, recently spoke out about the trend towards gamers being more interested in the awards systems in games – Trophies, levelling up, XP, Prestige, unlockables and so on – expressing concern that developers are under pressure to create ever more complex reward structures instead of focusing on a game’s actual core gameplay. He was referring mostly to multiplayer, but his thoughts apply to some single-player games, too. In particular, games like Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce, which, in turn is a game like Monster Hunter. Or at least it wants to be.
Monster Hunter is a phenomenally popular series for similar reasons to World Of Warcraft and its ilk. They just keep on giving. The gameplay is solid but it’s the constant rewards and the ever-expanding alter ego they feed into that keeps people playing them for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours. The Dynasty Warriors franchise, already bloated beyond belief, wanted a piece of that action and so Strikeforce was born. Or half-born at least. On the PSP this was just about acceptable – it provided bite-sized chunks of time-killing, which is what you want from a portable game, we suppose – but plonk it unceremoniously onto the PlayStation 3 and its inescapable awfulness oozes through, like runny poo through the trouser fabric of a really scared bungee jumper.
Even by Tecmo Koei’s dead-horse flogging standards this is an incredibly cynical move. Take a game about wading through thousands of enemies using sheer force and thumb stamina with only the tiniest scrap of skill or judgement ever coming into play and make it into a game where skill and judgement is necessary without bothering to change the engine in the slightest. It might sound refreshing that this is a Dynasty Warriors game with more tightly designed levels featuring fewer enemies and more puzzling, adventuring and platforming, but it’s not, because the only thing that the Dynasty Warriors engine is good for is wading indiscriminately into your enemy’s frontline. Try using it to jump from one moving platform to another or to take down a lone enemy that uses tactics like flying or shooting and it’s just infuriating.
And you’re supposed to forgive this laziness and clumsiness just because you find items that can be collected up and made into other items back at the town, which can be upgraded, as can your character, as can your companions… oh, and because you can play it online and gang up on big monsters together. But don’t. Don’t get hooked into the reward system. It’s certainly no substitute for fun gameplay.