Dynasty Warriors NEXT is steeped in history. You play as several figures from the part-fact part-fiction historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, brawling with tens of thousands of armour-clad enemies.
The game - part of a series - takes place in ancient China and is set to a rock guitar soundtrack. Each hero is adorned in lavish clothing and wields exotic weaponry, such as swords that leave light trails when swung and can cut through ten soldiers at once.
Combat is simple, with weak and heavy attacks that you can string into combos. Rack up enough kills and you're rewarded with an all-powerful Musou attack.
Warriors of glam rock
These special moves make use of the biggest evolution to be found in Dynasty Warriors NEXT: touchscreen and motion controls. Musou attacks, ambushes, and duels with key characters have you swiping on the screen, tapping the back panel, and physically swinging your Vita around the room.
The Duels are reminiscent of Infinity Blade, as you gauge which attack your opponent will make next and react accordingly with strikes of your own. They're not as intuitive as Chair's effort, but they're just as satisfying and far more dramatic.
Overall victory usually means ensuring that your encampment is protected while leading a decisive assault against the enemy's base of operations. Rushing straight to an HQ results in an almost impossible conflict against overwhelming forces, but picking off Enemy Dispatch stations, Supply Depots, and other key structures weakens their ability to fight back.
It's a good thing that this element of strategy is present, because otherwise the path to conquering China is one long combat grind. Dynasty Warriors NEXT attempts to liven up the process with touchscreen elements, a horse racing mini-game, and a steady stream of unlocked items. Even so, the action barely changes.
What might well distract you from the repetition is how flawed the game's engine is. Low-polygon-count enemies appear out of thin air mere feet away, and most simply run onto your blade.
Officers put up more of a challenge, but only by sheer power: they're just as dumb as their subordinates. When there's a lot happening onscreen the engine really starts to chug, too, spoiling the otherwise suitably epic visual direction.
Not one to break tradition, Dynasty Warriors NEXT isn't massively progressive and won't appeal to anyone turned off by other Warriors efforts. But fans will find the series they know and love in all its colourful glory.