I was elated when I heard that there was going to be a Dynasty Warriors game on the PlayStation Vita at launch on February 22, 2012! It's no secret that I'm a big fan of this series; however, anyone who knows me also knows that I'm willing to acknowledge the series short comings. At it's core the Dynasty Warriors series is a huge hack and slash where you're knocking out hundreds of thousands of enemies with magic and weapons ranging from the standard pike and sword to the absurd harp and flute. That's right, I said knock out! A lot of people mistakenly think you're killing folks in large hoards, in actuality you're not. If you're familiar with the series than this so far has just been old hat; just like the last few installments of the series on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Dynasty Warriors Next very well may be the game that helps redefine the series by utilizing the PS Vita's revolutionary back screen touch controls. Fans of the series will remember the special Musou attack that you can charge up and use to unleash large attacks on anyone surrounding you. This installment adds something called Shadow Musou, an attack which can be delivered by tapping with two fingers on the back touch screen; continuously tap and you can cause magna to flow out of the ground and damage your enemy even further. Using the touch screen for Shadow Musou gives you the ability to more accurately target your attacks.
The back touch is getting a lot of play in this game, more so than I could have imagined. That doesn't mean Koei leaves the front touch screen display out in the cold. With a tap on the screen you send out a mystical attack which can reach foes near or far. The usage of the touch screen doesn't stop there though, this game also brings us a new game mechanic which is described as accidental battles. In this battle mode time slows down and you're required to move the screen around in order to bring your attackers in view and tap on them in the given amount of time in order to successfully evade and counter-attack.
Dynasty Warriors Next includes the same map features as the recent Dynasty Warrior console releases have had; bases in which your side, or the enemy can control in order to gain a field advantage. Fighter an officer has changed a bit though in this portable version of the game, instead of them just being much stronger and harder to knock out, they now require you to tap icons which appear over the officer, ala God of War. This mechanic feels a bit clunky, but hopefully will improve in the final product.
Dynasty Warriors Next marks the return of the character customization mode which can be used on more than 65 playable characters. The game also includes Conquest Mode, Coalition Mode, and Gala Mode; you'll be able to play ad-hoc multi-player with up to 4 people.
I'm really excited to get my hands on the final version of this game and give it a run for it's money. There are parts which need improvement, and mostly it's more of the same, but those are the things I love about the Dynasty Warriors series. Any game that keeps a portable in my hands for a long period of time is a win in my book.