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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Kalafina doesn't actually exist:

Lia's music is composed by Jun Maeda, so she doesn't get an entry in my music hall of fame.  To be consistent, the same should be true of Kalafina, who just sing songs composed by Yuki Kajiura.  This means my eminent composer/performer list is down to 205, and Yuki Kajiura's composition credit moves up to 66 songs, still in 11th place.

The general rule is that if a composer already on my list is responsible for a performer's songs, the credit goes to the composer.  But if the composer isn't on my list, then the credit goes to the performer.  So Sarah Brightman gets credit when she sings a song by Puccini, but Mozart gets credit when she sings a song by Mozart.

Esmee Visser's speed skating gold was a thing of beauty.

It's taking longer to finish rewatching Kyoukai no Rinne than I expected.  There's no rush, though, as it isn't due to be fully rewatched until 2019.

Instead, I've been playing Dynasty Warriors 9.  I think it is a very smart game.  They realized that they'd done everything they could with the Dynasty Warriors 8 model, producing 80+ unique characters and weapons and fully explaining in the story mode exactly what happened in history.  (They did a very good job of this in DW7).  So how can they make Dynasty Warriors 9 an experience worth purchasing and playing for all those people who have already played 7 and 8?

The open world was ingenious.  I have spent endless hours just happily exploring the world, not slaying anyone and completely ignoring the plot.  Just looking around, climbing mountains, and visiting cities.  Everything looks beautiful thanks to the power of the PS4.  They really couldn't have created such an engaging environment until now, so it was smart to wait until they had the hardware necessary to pull this game off.

They also managed to do a lot of small battles that were glossed over in previous versions, like Yuan Shao versus Gangsun Zan.  I love little details like that.  The open world map gives you a good sense of place, where things are and why they happened that way.  Now it isn't just 'obscure chinese province invades obscure chinese province.'  Instead it's "this place northeast of your home base is invading you, go conquer them instead."  And you can just see on the map why the conflict was inevitable.

Dong Bai is a great new character addition.  Not only does she look great and have a great voice actress (Eri Ozeki, so obscure she doesn't even have an anime news network or wikipedia entry about her, but great all the same), but she has vital character interactions with people who are otherwise too isolated to make a full story out of, like Lu Lingqi and Dong Zhou.  Yuan Shu and Huang Xia are also great given how central they are to the story.  I haven't played Shu yet but I bet Xiahou Ji is really cool too.  I'm not normally fond of downloadable content, and you get to see all the events of these characters from the eyes of other people, and all their weapons are just clones anyway, so I doubt I'll be buying the right to play as them.  But I'm still really glad they were included as unique NPC's.

I like how they really stressed Zhang Fei's weakness to drink this time around, usually they gloss over people's bad points in this series but it feels like DW9 is a more serious and realistic take on the story than previous entries.

Is this the best Dynasty Warriors game?  Not at all.  That was probably DW8, maybe 7, maybe 3, maybe 5.  In any case, it isn't 9.  This is because the actual battle gameplay is a lot worse.  There's no sense of tension or tactics.  In previous games you had to carefully maneuver around the map and accomplish all sorts of varying missions in time before your other generals died.  Archers were terrifying opponents who could kill you at any moment, and officers could suddenly destroy you with their own musous.  In this game nothing like that happens.  The enemies are all easily beaten, but still take forever to kill, so it's more like chopping down a tree than winning an exhilarating fight.

It's obvious they sacrificed the quality of the battles for the sake of the open world map questing experience.  I prefer the intense battles where everything feels like it's on the line.  There's nothing like Wang Yuanji's battle in DW7 where you had to ride from one side of the map quickly to the other to stop two separate desperate losing situations with only the power of your aerial musou to complete the mission on time.  But I've already played DW7 and DW8 into the ground.  Providing the exact same formula again wouldn't be as satisfying as this all new DW9 experience.  Which means this was the perfect game for its circumstances.

If you buy one Dynasty Warriors ever, it should be the DW8 + Xtreme Legends pack for PS4.  But if you've already bought and played that, I think DW9 is the best follow up.  This way you can get the best of both worlds.

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