Team building

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 June, 2009, 12:00am

Vie for honour and glory as one of the legends from China's turbulent Three Kingdoms era in Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce.

The game was created by Japanese developer Omega Force and published by Koei for Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) system. It is the latest instalment in the Dynasty Warriors series of fighting/tactical action games, which started in 1997 on the first-generation PlayStation console.

Players can take on the role of Zhao Yun, aka the Little Dragon (pictured); warlords Cao Cao and Liu Bei; and Zhuge Liang, recognised as the most accomplished wartime strategist of his era.

The adventures of these historical figures were made popular in the 14th-century novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

The multimillion-selling Dynasty Warriors has previously pitted a lone warrior against an army of thousands. Gameplay for the earlier titles was simple: run around the battlefield and try to stay alive to complete missions.

Strikeforce, however, delivers what is arguably this year's hottest multiplayer experience on the PSP. For the first time, up to four friends can form a 'strikeforce'. As a team, players will travel to various towns, embark on quests and use co-ordinated assaults to conquer heavily-armed fortresses.

The team uses a village as base camp, from where weapons can either be upgraded or built from the spoils of war. The town's market stocks hundreds of items that can be used in battle or for healing. Players can also learn chi arts to improve their skills.

There are two mission types in Strikeforce. Tasks received from the gate guard have a direct effect on the storyline. Once a mission is completed, new maps or assignments will be unlocked and history will unfold.

The second type comprises non-story related missions. The progress of the storyline is not affected if players fail to complete them. These tasks allow the team to gather materials and cash to create or buy new weapons.

In terms of graphics and sound, there are modest improvements on previous titles. But it is the game's quick-paced combat and greater level of artificial intelligence that make it the best entry so far in the Dynasty Warriors series. There is also enough character development in this button-masher to suit novices and die-hard fans alike.

PROS: Quick-paced, multiplayer action makes for an enjoyable PSP gaming experience.

CONS: Graphics and sound still need some work.