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Koei Tecmo

Review: Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires

Nov 26 // Laura Kate Dale
Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Vita [Reviewed])Developer: Omega ForcePublisher: Tecmo KoeiReleased: November 24, 2015 (Vita)MSRP: $39.99  Much like past Empires releases, 8's release throws in a handful of new things for you to mess around with. You can get married and have kids, and make decisions about being a freelancer or a servant, but ultimately everything you do is in service of unifying China, usually by force. Right off the bat, you'll create your own hero to fight as, rather than the main entries' focus on fighting as a variety of different warriors. Pick their design, armor, and moveset from Dynasty Warriors 8 and set them off onto an adventure which will involve sticking with them long term, until they carve their own destiny out for themselves. [embed]322746:61270:0[/embed] A big part of the strategy involved in Empires comes down to deciding how to best spend your time. There is a menu-based system in place which gives you a series of options, with each available action taking one month to complete. After a certain number of months, you'll attend or host a war council meeting where your long-term objectives are set. The challenge here is working out how to balance your time. Initially, I sided with a much larger faction and piggybacked on their success. Every time a new objective was set, I had to decide how much of my time to dedicate to furthering the goals of my faction, and how much of the time to put toward working on my own personal goals. Every month I could avoid working on faction goals allowed me to grow slightly closer to independence. There was also the balancing act of working out how long to spend with that faction before going solo. The longer I stayed with them, the more resources I had at my disposal for personal growth, but the larger my faction grew as a potential threat. Knowing one day I would split off, I didn't want to put too much of my effort into beefing up a future enemy. Once you eventually break out solo, you have a lot more say over how to focus strategically. You can go fully diplomatic, violent, or a mixture of the two, but violence overall feels the most fulfilling route. You have to try and keep a mental handle on how thin it's safe to spread your forces, how fast it's safe to expand, how long you can stay put fortifying yourself, and how fast your enemies are expanding their influence. There were a number of things I constantly had to be aware of, but it never felt overwhelming or unfair. Combat is pretty much unchanged from Dynasty Warriors 8, which in my opinion is a good thing. The dual weapon switching, combos, and special attacks remain unchanged, with the main differences being tactical elements of how you engage in fights on the battlefield. Empires features a far more detailed map, with a higher focus on overall strategy when overtaking bases. You'll find a series of strategic bases, which need to be overtaken one after another to work toward the capture of the main base. The more detailed map allows for more strategy, but it also caused me some stress while trying to make progress across the map. Feeling like I had to always be aware of enemy movements and counters to my advance meant that where I would have powered forward in a main Dynasty Warriors game, here I often stopped and backtracked to keep the odd one or two people from slipping through my net. Ultimately, I came away from Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires extremely satisfied. The tactical elements outside of battle were well balanced as to be challenging while fair, and the combat carries over the best elements from the main game. It's a bit of a specific niche it's catering to -- fans of Dynasty Warriors combat and long-term strategy elements -- but if those two things are your jam, then Empires should have you hooked. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Dynasty Warriors photo
Plan to have an awesome time
Back in 2013 when Jim Sterling reviewed Dynasty Warriors 8 and called it a "return to form" for the series, I largely agreed with his review. From its large roster to complex combat system, it featured some of the best fighti...

Hyrule Warriors Legends photo
Hyrule Warriors Legends

Watch Skull Kid do his thing in Hyrule Warriors Legends


Yes!
Nov 26
// Chris Carter
One of my most anticipated new features of Hyrule Warriors Legends, an expansion of sorts for the original Warriors, is Skull Kid. The new attacks shown in the video look amazing, and include moon abilities, as well as a fig...
Hyrule Warriors photo
Hyrule Warriors

They finally gave Ganondorf a trident in Hyrule Warriors Legends


A (Tri)force to be reckoned with
Nov 24
// Brett Makedonski
Ganondorf wasn't given a trident in Hyrule Warriors for Wii U. That seems like a missed opportunity of sorts. It was his weapon of choice in some of the best Zelda games ever made. That misstep is being rectified w...
DOA Xtreme 3 photo
DOA Xtreme 3

Plans to localize Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 in the West may be DOA


Sad tromboner
Nov 24
// CJ Andriessen
Are you a western gamer interested in Dead or Alive Xtreme 3? Well then you best get your ass to an import website because it doesn't look like the game will be making it our way. Even after the publisher said fan demand coul...
Koei Tecmo photo
Koei Tecmo

Atelier Escha & Logy Plus coming to PlayStation Vita in January


With lots of new content
Nov 21
// Kyle MacGregor
Atelier Escha & Logy Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky is coming to PlayStation Vita in North America on January 19 and Europe the very next day, Koei Tecmo has announced. The role-playing game originally came out on PlayS...
Attack on Titan PS4 photo
Attack on Titan PS4

That new Attack on Titan game freaks me out


There can be no survivors
Nov 21
// Jordan Devore
It's not like I was going to sleep tonight, anyway, Attack on Titan. A handful of audio-less gameplay clips from Koei Tecmo's upcoming PS4, PS3, and PS Vita action game have surfaced on the official Japanese site. Lots of zooming around, slashing titan flesh. A couple of the videos are more mundane and feature the protagonists chatting with one another. Let's not focus on the mundane.
Japan Warriors poll photo
Japan Warriors poll

Persona or SMT Warriors? Atlus says 'get in touch with us anytime'


Or Final Fantasy Warriors?
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
A recent Famitsu poll asked fans what Koei Tecmo Warriors (or Musou) crossover they'd most want to see and Gematsu has the Sokuho@Hokanko translation of the results, as well as responses by those series' respective creators o...
Panty lines photo
Panty lines

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 gets rope tug and buoy hopping


And tan line tech
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
It's not just volleyball, clapping titties, and virtual reality you're getting with Dead or Alive Xtreme 3. No, no, no. As shown off in this new video, there's also tug-of-war and pool crossing minigames. The latter would be...
Dragon Quest Heroes photo
Dragon Quest Heroes

Well well, it looks like Dragon Quest Heroes was just stealth confirmed for PC


Square Enix you bunch of rascals
Nov 12
// Chris Carter
Just moments ago I got a number of texts from friends telling me to boot up Steam to confirm a message they had obtained. Apparently, Dragon Quest Heroes is coming to PC, and Steam users are being asked to pre-purchase t...
Hyrule Warriors Legends photo
Hyrule Warriors Legends

Hyrule Warriors Legends' King of Red Lions looks like he kicks major ass


Coming to 3DS next year
Nov 12
// Chris Carter
The King of Red Lions has always been one of my favorite characters from Wind Waker, and I'm glad that the cast is has a chance to shine in Hyrule Warriors Legends. I didn't realize, however, that his style was so fluid...
Attack on Titan photo
Attack on Titan

See the latest footage from Koei Tecmo's new Attack on Titan game


Another teaser
Nov 05
// Chris Carter
It's a small tidbit of gameplay, but this teaser from Koei Tecmo will give you an idea of what the new Attack on Titan [working title] game will look like. This will be their first "lead platform" PS4 game, so I'm expec...
Dead or Alive Xtreme photo
Dead or Alive Xtreme

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 scores English subs


So import away!
Oct 30
// Kyle MacGregor
Much like a volleyball mid-flight, it remains up in the air whether Koei Tecmo will bring Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 to western shores. However, we received word today from Play Asia that the Asian-region version of the game will...
Yoru no Nai Kuni photo
Yoru no Nai Kuni

Koei Tecmo is localizing Gust's dark new RPG


Yoru no Nai Kuni becomes Nights of Azure
Oct 28
// Kyle MacGregor
Yoru No Nai Kuni is coming to western shores as Nights of Azure, Koei Tecmo announced today. Directed by Keisuke Kikuchi (Fatal Frame, Deception IV), the new role-playing game represents something of a departure for dev...
Fatal Frame V photo
Fatal Frame V

Despite all the hubbub, I'm still getting Fatal Frame


May I live to regret it
Oct 26
// Jonathan Holmes
Our own Zack Furniss had a pretty bad time with Fatal Frame V, as detailed in his excellent review. Having just finished the hour-and-a-half long free demo for the title myself, I completely understand where he's coming from,...
Deception photo
Deception

Tecmo's Deception returns next week on PSN


It's a trap!
Oct 24
// Kyle MacGregor
Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness is being re-released on PlayStation Network next week in North America, according to the latest episode of the PlayStation Blogcast. Ahem. Before we go any further, let me just warn y...
Arslan photo
Arslan

Arslan: The Warriors of Legend will launch in February in the west


Yes!
Oct 23
// Chris Carter
Ever since I laid eyes on it I've been looking forward to Arslan: The Warriors of Legend. Thankfully I had a chance to play it at TGS recently, and my suspicions were confirmed -- it was not only a great looking Warriors ...
Dissidia Final Fantasy photo
Dissidia Final Fantasy

New Dissidia launches in arcades November 26


Final Fantasy fighter not far off now
Oct 20
// Kyle MacGregor
Dissidia Final Fantasy launches in Japanese arcades on Nov. 26, Square Enix announced today. The three-on-three arena fighter is in development at Koei Tecmo's Team Ninja, the studio best known for its work on the Dead o...

Review: Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water

Oct 19 // Zack Furniss
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water (Wii U [eShop only])Developer: Koei Tecmo, Nintendo Software Planning & DevelopmentPublisher: NintendoReleased: October 22, 2015MSRP: $49.99 This time around, the ghost-infested location is Mount Hikami, which is a stand-in for Aokigahara (worth a read if you want to hate trees), the real-life Suicide Forest. Initially, this feels like the perfect environment for Fatal Frame. A series that deals with ancient, forbidden rituals in Japan should feel at home in the suicide capital of the world. Unfortunately, the setting feels wasted as soon as you start playing. For the first hour and a half, you're locked on a ridiculously linear path. A supporting character gives you a tutorial on how to use the camera and explore your environment, and you can't do anything except what she tells you. "Let's go upstairs," she monotonically asserts. If you try to go off the path, the camera forces you back around. If this segment was a few minutes long, it would be forgivable, yet this feeling of restriction creeps back in sporadically throughout. Want to go down that road in the forest? "You must find Fuyuhi," the dialog box insists, as you're pointed back towards your current objective. Objectives are another unwelcome addition. Instead of having to explore Mount Hikami, you can almost always hold a button to watch a ghostly image of whoever you're trying to find appear, heading in the direction of your objective. Although past games in the series have erred on the side of obfuscation, the areas you wander about are mostly small and confined. Having a constant push in the correct direction feels obtrusive, as if Maiden of Black Water doesn't trust its own visual cues to convey your intended destination. Using the GamePad as the Camera Obscura should make up for the lackluster exploration, but the control scheme fails to feel intuitive in any way. Be prepared to keep the pad at eye-level at all times, since pressing the camera button in your lap will make your perspective start at your crotch. You can either choose to use the gyroscope and analog stick or just the analog stick, and I would recommend the latter after the novelty of the GamePad wears off. The main problem with the gyroscope is that you're required to rotate the controller to take certain pictures, but when combating spirits you still need to use twin stick movement to avoid attacks. Even when the pad is completely vertical the sticks don't compensate, so you still have to hold forward to move forward, which sounds rational but feels awkward as all hell in practice. If you're like me and invert your Y-axis, good fucking luck making this work. You'll still have to turn it like this with the gyroscope turned off, because Fatal Frame really wants to justify its use of the GamePad. Koei Tecmo didn't think we could handle puzzles this time around, so the next best idea it had was that some keys could only be found by taking pictures with a correctly oriented camera. It's not difficult, but it never goes beyond feeling like an afterthought. Even simple movement can be frustrating; occasionally, turning around becomes more arduous than fighting ghosts. Battling ghosts with the Camera Obscura is relatively similar to past iterations, which the exception of tilting the camera to get portrait shots. Ghosts now have small fragments that float around them, and if you can take a picture with five targets, you'll do more damage to them. There are also three different characters who have their own abilities with the camera, like charged shots or chains of 8 rapid-fire photographs. You can also upgrade the camera's stats, improving its damage or the lenses that you find throughout Mount Hikami. Snapping photos of the ghosts with these lenses is cathartic, and it's heart-warming/chilling to hear that old Camera Obscura sound. That catharsis doesn't remain for too long, since you'll be encountering enemies about every two minutes. Tension never has a chance to build since there's always a specter ready to pounce at you. Instead of dreading ghosts because they're horrifying, you'll dread them because of the repetition they bring. Pacing was not a priority here. In keeping with the aquatic theme, there's a new "wetness" gauge that fills up when you're running through rain or attacked by certain ghosts. If you're thoroughly soaked, you'll take more damage, but your pictures become more potent. This risk-reward system could have added some much-needed adrenaline to the combat, but the change in damage values is negligible. The wetness gauge never goes beyond an excuse to ogle a bit of rain-soaked bra strap. There's also an abundance of healing items that render both this status effect and any damage you receive toothless. Tell-tale shiny glints betray herbal medicines and better film hidden all throughout Mount Hikami. This becomes increasingly far-fetched as you explore each area in the game entirely too many times, yet the items are always replenished. I'm usually not one to point out clichés, but Maiden of Black Water found a way to make items infuriatingly annoying. Y'see, you don't just press a button to pick something up. You have to hold a trigger to slooooooooooooowly reach out towards the object while a bweeeeeeeeyooooooooo sound rings in your ears. Each time you do this, there's a ~20% chance that a disembodied ghostly hand will grab your wrist, weakly shaking you and doing a minuscule amount of harm. It happens often, is never scary, and will make you angry. I can't fathom why this mechanic was even considered, as it murders any semblance of pacing left in the game. So many horror games are given passes for poor controls and mechanics if they manage to raise your heartbeat. Maiden of Black Water fails even in this regard. The aforementioned pacing is the crux of the issue, but unimaginative enemy and location designs are also to blame. While I can remember most of the enemies from the previous games, I'm having trouble remembering all of the ghosts from the one I just played. You'll fight a bunch of shrine maidens and one memorable guy with a big knife, and one woman who convincingly moves as if she's still hanging from the rope that she used to kill herself. The rest? They're...people, I guess. Nothing as good as the Broken Neck Woman, or the Woman in the Box, or the Kusabi. Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water seems so, so tired. Maidens, rituals, sacrifices, suicides, water, black hair growing and covering every surface...we've seen all of this done before and with more skill. Two small moments offer an enticing glimpse at what could have been: a short trip to a cable car station and a short episode where you're monitoring surveillance cameras. The second I got to the modern-looking cable car station, I realized how much this series needs to go to new places. I was wrong about Aokigahara, it was more of the same. That surveillance episode subverts the camera theme, making you helplessly watch as phantoms slowly encroach upon your friends' rooms. If new concepts like these were used throughout, this could have been something special. At least there's a hefty amount of game here. My first playthrough took about 13 hours, and there's a bonus episode where you can play as Ayane from Dead or Alive. It's not great, but playing Fatal Frame stealthily is at least a novel idea. There's also the Nightmare difficulty and the bonus costumes you can unlock for further replayability. It's too bad that most of that is backtracking through the same areas time and again. I experienced four freezes in my time with the game. I'd recommend not looking at your photo list to see your recent pictures, as that's what led to each freeze. The only way I could get out of the menu was by doing a hard system reset. That I wasn't able to look at pictures in a game about taking pictures is a fantastic summation of my experience. Off-TV Play made too much sense for Koei Tecmo to get it right; it's playable, but whether you're using headphones or not, you can't hear any of the in-game voices (dual audio, by the way!) or music. You need the TV for that. Nintendo seemed hesitant to bring Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water overseas, and I'm sure it'll be monitoring how it sells to gauge interest. Twelve-year-old me would be upset with this review, and he'd blame that asshole Zack Furniss for condemning the series to death with a damning review. He'd be in the comments below telling me that I wasn't playing it right, or that it wasn't my type of game. All I would have to say to him is this: If this what Fatal Frame is now, I don't want it anymore. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Fatal Frame review photo
Treading trashwater
I was on the cusp of adolescence when I first played the original Fatal Frame. My friend Richard and I spent many a summer night with eyes wide from the horrors we had witnessed in the Himuro Mansion. The sequel Crimson Butte...

Fatal Frame costumes photo
Fatal Frame costumes

Zelda and Zero Suit Samus costumes in Fatal Frame


Less spoopy now
Oct 16
// Darren Nakamura
Being a young girl whose only defense against ghosts and vampires is a camera can be quite spoopy, so for those who want to feel more empowered, how about putting on the suit of a renowned bounty hunter, feared across the gal...
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 photo
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 PS4 trailer is like slapping raw chicken breasts about


Beach volleyball
Oct 15
// Steven Hansen
Costco no longer sells its bulk chicken breasts in individually wrapped two-breast packs. Now it's just a giant plastic sack full of chicken breasts. Imagine: me, you, and some friends. We each grab a couple breasts and proc...
Fatal Frame Wii U photo
Fatal Frame Wii U

Oh right, a new Fatal Frame comes out next week


Sneaky Nintendo
Oct 12
// Kyle MacGregor
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water is creeping its way to North America next week. Literally. Nintendo of America hasn't been terribly gung-ho about promoting Koei Tecmo's latest, despite the fact it's one of this autumn's mo...
Hyrule Warriors photo
Hyrule Warriors

Hyrule Warriors requires New 3DS to play in 3D


Needed the additional processing power
Sep 21
// Kyle MacGregor
While Hyrule Warriors Legends, an updated Nintendo 3DS port of last year's action game, will be compatible with older models of the portable, its stereoscopic 3D effects will not. Speaking with 4Gamer at Tokyo Game Show, prod...
Dead or Alive Xtreme photo
Dead or Alive Xtreme

Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 coming to PlayStation VR


Welp
Sep 19
// Kyle MacGregor
Dead or Alive Xtreme fans will probably be thrilled to hear Team Ninja will be taking things up a notch, as the developer has revealed plans to incorporate PlayStation VR functionality in its next risqué ...
Nioh photo
Nioh

Lookin' real good, Nioh


Sengoku action-RPG about slaying demons
Sep 17
// Jordan Devore
What stands out to you at Tokyo Game Show 2015? Nioh, yeah? It's got that Onimusha / Souls thing going for it, which is a damn good thing to have. More details have come out for the Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja action-RPG, as re...
Arslan photo
Arslan

Arslan: The Warriors of Legend feels like an old-school Warriors game


In all the best ways
Sep 17
// Chris Carter
Current anime games are insane to me. This generation has basically made it possible to play an animated TV series, with a stable framerate to boot. Games like One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 on the PS4 run as smooth as silk, and manage to maintain an aesthetic that looks nigh indistinguishable from anime. Arslan: The Warriors of Legend is one such game.
Hyrule Warriors Legends photo
Hyrule Warriors Legends

Hyrule Warriors Legends is releasing in Japan on January 21


Ganondorf's luscious locks on 3DS!
Sep 17
// Joe Parlock
The 3DS re-release of Koei Tecmo’s Zelda game, Hyrule Warriors, has been dated in Japan. We also got a shiny new trailer showing off what's new in the game. Hyrule Warriors Legends, which introduces a crapton of new st...
Tecmo Koei photo
Tecmo Koei

Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII may not be coming west, but it is getting an English release


So you can import the Asian version
Sep 16
// Kyle MacGregor
[Update: It sounds like the game is also in development for Xbox One.] Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII has not been announced for a western release, but it sounds like you should be able to play the upcoming strategy ...
Attack on Titan photo
Attack on Titan

Get a brief look at the new Attack on Titan game's brutal combat


Sufficiently bloody
Sep 16
// Chris Carter
Information has been scant for Koei Tecmo's new Attack on Titan game, but the basic concept is starting to come into focus. The first minute of this trailer is all previously seen footage, but the rest shows the in...
Nioh photo
Nioh

Team Ninja's new samurai action-RPG is badass


Nioh lives on with PlayStation 4
Sep 15
// Jordan Devore
While Koei has been kicking around ideas for a game called Nioh since before the PlayStation 3 days -- take a look at this trailer from 2005! -- the project is only now coming to fruition. During Tokyo Game Show this week, it...
Toukiden 2 photo
Toukiden 2

Toukiden 2 coming to Japan in 2016


2kiden
Sep 15
// Zack Furniss
Tecmo Koei's Toukiden, a popular hunting action game, will be receiving a sequel in 2016. The demure translator lady says that it will be "...very reali-realistic and o-open world..." A crazy demon fought a small anime woman in a short cinematic and you'll know more when we do.

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