Some videogame developers have a nasty habit of releasing enhanced versions of big-named titles some time following their initial releases, with these “director’s cuts” featuring new content not found in the original; Square-Enix in particular is an offender at times with its Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts franchises. With the third installment of Koei’s Dynasty Warrior series, the company followed suit, releasing a director’s cut of the third entry entitled Dynasty Warriors 3 Xtreme Legends, which has new features such as being able to play as certain characters the player couldn’t play as in the original version, and is an otherwise solid title.
Gameplay is almost the same as it was in the original Dynasty Warriors 3, with each character fighting a number of story battles, between which there are occasional cutscenes with some basis in Chinese history, and, at the end, a longer narrative about the battles the character endured, providing nice incentive to play as different characters and accounting for a solid overreaching storyline. Fights themselves take place on battlefields of different sizes where the controlled character can go around and slay enemies in real-time combat, getting stat boosts by slaying named enemies and gate guard captains. There is some grinding necessary in Free Mode to make it through Musou Mode, but otherwise, gameplay helps the game more than hurts.
Control is generally solid, with the player able to quit anytime in the middle of battle and resume at the place where they left off, and a linear structure for each character’s storyline that ensures the player never gets lost or needs to check a guide, always a nice design decision.
The music is largely the same as it was in the original Dynasty Warriors 3, with the rocky themes being decent but somewhat out of place in a game that takes place in medieval China, and the decision to have a bunch of WASPs voice the Asian character was, as before, a somewhat poor one.
The visuals could have been better as well, given the fogginess of many areas, although the character models look decent despite some pixilation.
Finally, each character’s quest is somewhat short, taking less than ten hours to complete. Overall, Dynasty Warriors 3 Xtreme Legends is a solid director’s cut that hits most of the right notes, what with its solid action tactical gameplay and control, variable story, and variety of characters, although it does leave room for improvement in areas such as the need to grind at times, the soundtrack and voicework, and the visuals. Despite these flaws, the enhanced version is definitely preferable to the original incarnation, and Koei would repeat the process of releasing occasional “Xtreme Legends” titles in the Dynasty Warriors pantheon.
+Solid tactical action mechanics and control.
+Story varies depending upon characters.
+Variety of characters adds replay value.
-Some grinding in Free Mode necessary.
-Weak soundtrack and English voicework.
-Graphics are foggy at many times.
The Bottom Line:
A good remix of Dynasty Warriors 3.
Platform: PlayStation 2
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Playing Time: Less than 10 Hours per Character