It’s always nice to see Tecmo-Koei branch out and take it’s Dynasty Warriors franchise in new directions, and that’s just what fans will be getting with Warriors: Legends of Troy. Longtime fans are in for a treat as the game marks the first time the series isn’t focused on massive battles throughout ancient Asia, but instead massive battles set during the Trojan War, with a healthy dose of Grecian mythology thrown in for good measure. It’s also the first in the series to sport an ‘M’ rating, thanks to its grittier tone and increased focus on gore and violence. These are all welcome changes to a franchise whose chief complaint is often its lack of innovation, though it may take a bit more than a change of scenery to keep all but the most diehard fans hacking ‘n slashing to the end.
The game lets you take control of Greek legends such as Achilles and Odysseus or Trojans such as Hector and Paris of Troy. No matter which side you choose, you’ll be surrounded by hordes of baddies to hack and slash your way through, with each hero having a quick attack, a focused strong attack, a stun attack, as well as an evasive roll and a shield. While you can button-mash your way through the hordes , it won’t do you much good, as you’ll need to balance your attacks to rack up large amounts of Kleos, the game’s currency. When you’ve collected enough money, you’ll be able to purchase various weapons and items to boost your character’s performance, making the tough battles a lot easier to get through.
This game shares several elements with Dynasty Warriors, but is obviously catered more towards a Western audience with the thematic switch and development handled by Koei Canada this time around. This can be seen in the production values and narration, which have a heavier focus here than the previous games in the series. The combat system is also somewhat deeper and places more importance on the use of defensive plays, such as blocking or parrying, and you’ll need to perfect your timing to launch the devastating counters that can easily turn the tide in battle.
Another neat addition is being able to pick up any fallen weapons and use them in satisfying ways, such as throwing them several yards to impale an enemy. This makes it especially satisfying to use an opponent’s own weapon against him. The depth of the combat system is also essential to whittling down various bosses in the game who won’t let you get away with mindless button-mashing, although they will require employing God of War-like quick-time event button pressing to finish them off. This can lead to some frustrating moments where if you miss one of the buttons, the boss regains some health and you have to start the process all over.
The graphics aren’t spectacular, but they’re good enough to keep gamers satisfied, especially those who enjoy seeing the gory details of non-stop blood and violence while in the thick of battle. The backgrounds aren’t anything special, either, and it doesn’t seem like much effort was put into differentiating them from the original games’ similarly flat and sparse locales. I also had a gripe with some of the characters’ animations, which seem to come off as stiff and jerky when attacking, lacking fluidity when pulling off some of the more impressive and scene-stealing finishing moves. Finishing off a stunned enemy, for example, quick jumps to the initial motion before suddenly jerking to them already being held up in the air frame of the animation. The game does feature some of the best storytelling and cutscenes ever seen in the whole Warriors’ series, which provide a nice break after the seemingly endless battles you’ll fight through.
And they do start to feel endless, as regular battling can start to feel a bit repetitive, even after a quick play through. There are moments when the game does its best to break up the monotony, but even these events can feel like tacked on chores, which further reduce your warrior heroes to grinding through menial tasks such as protecting and escorting folks along their way. Another major disappointment is the complete lack of multiplayer options, with no cooperative or online multiplayer available whatsoever. Not only does this make slogging through the campaign a lonely affair, but also gives even the most dedicated fans little reason to keep playing after battling through the campaign.
Warriors: Legends of Troy may swap the battlefields of Asia for the historical locales of the Trojan War, but its still very much a Dynasty Warriors game at heart, with massive battles and devastating combos the prevailing theme. Being able to play such legendary warriors as Achilles and Paris of Troy across one of the most legendary conflicts in history is the real highlight, while subtle changes in the overall combat system will definitely be appreciated by the series’ most dedicated fans. Unfortunately, they may be the only ones that fully appreciate the game, as the gameplay and combo system begins to feel a bit too familiar, despite the change of venue. Likewise, the complete lack of any multiplayer options severely limit its appeal (not to mention replay value) once the campaign has been finished. A cautious rental at best.
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