Still here? Good. I'm one of the few that actually enjoy Dynasty Warriors, and one of the few that's willing to give each entry a chance. I'd mention "what's new", but seeing how the last DW game I played was 4, I don't really know, so I'll be looking at it as an stand alone game, which is how most games should be looked at, even if they are sequels.
What is Dynasty Warriors? It's the evolution of the sidescrolling beat'em up, the kind that was popular back on the SNES days.You play as a general of your choosing, around 60 for this entry, and are to lay havok on thousands upon thousands of grunts(As a matter of fact, there's a trophy for slaying over 3000 enemies on a single stage.). The game is pretty easy to pick up and play, there's a jump button, a normal attack, a charge attack(I like to call it the "modifier", more on it later) and a Musou attack. Normal attacks can be strung together up to 5 times... but press the charge attack in between the string to perform a completely different move, depending on when you use it during the string. The Musou attack is the screen-clearing special attack that requires a certain gauge to be filled.
The game takes place on big, open areas, filled with enemy soldiers, in which you must usually take care of a certain general to finish the mission, but it's encouraged to defeat as many officers(Stronger soldiers) as possible, since they drop various permanent power ups. There are a few missions that get a bit annoying, specially in the Story mode, in which you must protect an absolutely brain-dead ally as it makes it's way to a certain spot. They tend to get stuck, or choose to engage even when low on health, to say that they need constant baby sitting is an understatement. Enemy AI is a bit dumb too, but if they were to attack you constantly, you'd be dead in seconds, seeing how it's 200 or more vs 1(The allies deal negligible damage when you are close by, so don't rely on them). By the way, enemy archers are overpowered. They deal a ridiculous amount of damage, always attack from behind enemy lines, and if you jump, can stop you dead on your track.
There are about 62 characters and 31 weapon styles... which means there are a lot of clones. You can have up to two different weapons equipped(And can be changed just by going to the pause menu, even during battle). Each character has different affinities with each weapon, from getting slow charge attacks to being able to get extra gimmicks with a weapon. However, each character has a single EX attack, unique to each general, with his special weapon. This hardly makes it unique, the only things that differentiates characters are the two Musou Attacks and the EX attack, otherwise most characters can be reduced to clones. Sword specialists are specially abundant, and every character is proficient with swords, so if you are stuck with a character whose best weapons you don't like and isn't proficient with better weapons, you can just fall back to the Sword.
The graphics are great, each general looks awesome, with pretty intricate armor designs. The same can't be said for the NPC generals and the common soldiers, housing less polygons than their peers, but they don't look too bad. The stages are a bit on the simple sad, and the props, like scarecrows or boxes can't be broken, which is a shame, but it's probably the cost of having so many soldiers on-screen at the same time. The FX are a bit on the bland side too, many of the sparks look quite bad, and are prone to clipping through the floor. Not a a huge deal, but it's noticeable, particularily on Sima Yi's EX move.
Besides Story-Mode, there's also Conquest mode. Sadly, for the first time in the series, as far as I know, Free Mode is absent, but Conquest mode is a better alternative... mostly. Conquest Mode provides over 100 different stages, of varying difficulty levels, and different goals. Escort Missions, conquering missions, dueling missions.... it all boils down to killing thousands of soldiers. One thing I like about the mode, is that it incorporates the What If stories from previous games into "Legendary Battles". Each general has a different set of Legendary Battles, they range from historically accurate to ridiculous, with Sima Shi being mad at Sima Zhao for eating his food.
In both modes, you will amass gold, which is used to buy more weapons. This weapons come with built-in seals, that provides different bonuses. Defeat enough enemies with the weapon, and you'll master it, allowing you to use it's seal on different weapons. Each weapon has a different ammount of open slots, so you can customize your weapon to better suit your style. Grinding for stats is as slow as ever, with enemy general leaving +2, +4, +6, +8 or rarely and only on harder difficulties +16 strenght or defense power ups. Seeing how most generals start with 200-300 base stats, it's gonna take a while. There's also a relationship system with other generals, but it's a very shallow affair, and consists on taking them to you on battles for no rewards what so ever besides some dialogue lines.
So, how do I feel about Dynasty Warriors 7? A game with untapped potential. Story mode is fantastic, graphics are great, for this type of game, but... characters feel replaceable with each other, they don't have enough differences between each other. Luckily, it seems DW 8 adresses it, since they made a different weapon for each character! And the few that share weapons, use them in very different ways, and the graphics look even better than now... oh yeah, I'm hyped. But enough about 8, this is seven.
And DW 7 is a 7 out of 10.