At this point, the launch of a new Sony platform would feel incomplete without a new installment of the Dynasty Warriors franchise right alongside it. Luckily, here comes Koei with--you guessed it--Dynasty Warriors for the PSP. The popular hack-and-slash franchise's first portable outing pares down the complexity seen in past console-based titles, distilling the experience to the core large-scale combat that's driven this series for years now. Diehard fans of the series will probably be pleased simply because they can take Dynasty Warriors with them everywhere, though if you haven't been impressed by the series lately, this simplified handheld installment won't do anything to reel you in.
Dynasty Warriors' core hack-and-slash combat has translated pretty well to the PSP's small screen...
If you've played any of the myriad entries in the Dynasty Warriors series, you'll know the drill here. It's ancient China, and three warring states are disputing control of the vast nation in the wake of the sundered Han dynasty. You'll choose from a large stable of legendary heroes hailing from each of these three factions and then you'll plow your way through one (presumably loose) historical scenario after another as you attempt to unite China under your own banner. This is extremely familiar territory for players who've got some Dynasty Warriors experience under their belts, as you'll again be fighting in the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the Battle at Hu Lao Gate for the nth time. But this time, the flow of the action has been changed substantially.
In the console versions of Dynasty Warriors, each major skirmish takes place on one massive battlefield, and a typical level can take close to an hour to complete if you take your time. However, Koei rightfully seems to have taken the portable nature of the PSP into account here by breaking up every big battle into many smaller parts, represented on a tactical map with each node connected to other nodes by varying paths. Each section of the battle has its own type, from fortress to supply depot to simple open field, giving some areas a greater degree of strategic importance than others. To some extent, you can choose the path you take through the battle by selecting which areas you want to attack next, based on where the enemy's troops are concentrated. However, you can also just plow your way through, without much consideration for strategy, by attacking the next available node.
Each minor skirmish is very brief; you'll generally spend between two to five minutes hacking away at the enemy hordes before you've liberated that area and can move on to the next. You can save after any of these quick action sequences, power off the PSP, and then pick back up where you left off at a later time. Compared to the console Dynasty Warrior games, this version certainly makes it feel like less of a commitment to begin a new major battle, though the brevity of most of the stages can occasionally make the action feel a little trivial.