Warriors All-Stars Review: A Hot and Cold Romance
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Koei Tecmo’s long-running hack-and-slash bestseller is back in action with this latest iteration. Last time I checked, the wildly successful franchise has sold over 18 million copies. Now, that was back in 2011, which means that this number is obviously higher by now. Does Warriors All-Stars deserve to sell millions more for the franchise? Jump in to find out

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Warriors All-Stars Review: A Hot and Cold Romance

Koei Tecmo’s long-running hack-and-slash bestseller is back in action with this latest iteration. Last time I checked, the wildly successful franchise has sold over 18 million copies. Now, that was back in 2011, which means that this number is obviously higher by now. Does Warriors All-Stars deserve to sell millions more for the franchise? Jump in to find out.

Warriors All-Stars Review

Warriors All-Stars is another entry on the list of the perennial fan-favorite franchise Dynasty Warriors. As a result, much of the core elements remain the same. The gameplay, which involves making your way through a seemingly endless barrage of enemies hurling at you (most of them not even swinging at you), is quite traditionalist. You can, at times, activate special attacks involving other party members that you meet along your travels. These attack involve initiating a more devastating flurry upon your enemies by going invincible – while having your party members cheer on you – or by chaining combos in groups.

To keep the player engaged, Warrior All-Stars has RPG elements in the form of levels and upgrades. As you face stronger challenges out on the battlefield, your warriors will level up accordingly. Moreover, there are card-based upgrades dubbed “hero cards” that you can junction to your respective party members. The card-based system improves attack and defense, allowing for further customization.

Having said all of that, if you have previously played a Dynasty Warriors game, or any of the Warriors games, then you’re not really missing much here. While the gameplay can be quite addicting – especially on earlier stages – Warriors All-Stars is cut from the same [loin]cloth as the rest of its pedigree, and does not offer much else than what we’ve come to expect from the other finger-busting, grind-fest titles. And you will grind… If there is one thing I am sure about is that you will find yourself in an endless spiral of grinding for hours, and perhaps even days. This could be even longer, depending on whether the camera wants to cooperate or not. I was having a difficulty controlling it once the screen was filled to the brim with enemies and heroes, or whenever I cornered an adversary against a wall.

Developer Omega Force and  publisher Koei Tecmo made sure that despite there only being one game-mode (and that’s the single player campaign), that Warriors All-Stars had plenty of content therein to keep the curious occupied. You assemble your party with an assorted group of colorful characters to choose from, and you can embark on your quest immediately after. Keep in mind, though, you will be interrupted every other minute with pop-up screens that are meant to inform you on the many different elements concerning the gameplay, and other minutiae.

Warriors All-Stars Review

After you’ve assembled your roster, you’re free to take them wherever you want. Warriors All-Stars literally gives you the freedom to advance the game in any way you see fit. You can engage in any battle, mission, or sidequest, but you must keep in mind that if you’re not prepared accordingly, the game will suggest you do so before advancing. Additionally, there are tons of missions and sidequests that do very little to advance the plot of the game. However, these make up in the sheer amount of content available within the first hour of the game. This is one thing Warriors All-Stars can’t be scrutinized for though, is lack of content.

Warriors All-Stars is titled as such, since it takes heroes and heroines from a vast pool of universes of Koei Tecmo franchises. In one corner of the world, you will encounter William from Nioh, and in another, you’ll find Ryu Hayabusa and Ayane from Ninja Gaiden. Fans of the Dead or Alive, Dynasty Warriors, and Samurai Warriors series will all have something to look forward to; as Kasumi, Zhao Yun, and Sanada all make appearances from their respective universes. In my opinion, this is one of the Warriors All-Stars strongest assets: it promises a full roster of familiar faces from other (more interesting) series and pits them together in the fray, while faithfully adapting the “stars’” fighting styles and quirky personalities along the way.

Despite the fact that the Dynasty Warriors series has taken a page out of Chinese history to build its universe, Warriors All-Stars is quite lackluster in this department. The game’s plot is preposterously humdrum to the point of being a cookie-cutter excuse to assemble all these grand heroes into one game. The plot of Warriors All-Stars involves a spring drying up in a distant, colorful kingdom shortly after its king’s passing. As a result, a cat-eared girl named Tamaki has been ordained to summon all the heroes to help them restore the spring to its former glory. Otherwise, the kingdom and its inhabitants will be doomed for eternity (or something along those lines). I’ll admit, it’s a bit difficult to listen to a story so cliché, that it seems more fitting for fanfiction reading material at a Japanese maid café. Hell, the Kingdom Hearts universe isn’t necessarily known for its groundbreaking storytelling, yet even that has more backbone to support itself than the tripe presented here. All in all, though, Warriors All-Stars isn’t necessarily focusing on plot. The game just needs a reason to get all these characters on the same screen, even if it’s the biggest snooze-fest of an excuse.

At the end of the day, Warriors All-Stars is a mixed-to-solid outing for the fan-favorite franchise. The frenetic camera, repetitive gameplay, Cheesecake Factory-storyline, shrilly high-pitched voice acting (on Tamaki’s part) are grating. However, with these cons aside, the sweeping amount of content will surely keep the fans happy. As far as others are concerned though, Warriors All-Stars will be a love-or-hate relationship: one that will begin tumultuously and eventually blossom into something deeper. Or it could be one that will start platonically; only to descend into Dante’s Inferno to unleash an all-out-war. I, for one, probably belong in the middle of these two relationships. I can’t say I was displeased, but I also can’t say I was smitten.

This review of Warriors All-Stars was written based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game. A code was provided by the publisher.