The history of ancient China is filled with legends, mythology, and war. Sometimes the people even led normal lives. Dynasty Warriors attempted to use some of these aspects of the ancient world to make an enjoyable experience on your home console. Unfortunately, the key word was "attempted." Dynasty Warriors 8 plays out as a rather boring experience with a tepid plot, lack of character development, and underwhelmingly simple combat system.
Usually, a 20 hour campaign is a great thing to have in a single-player game. It gives players more bang for their buck, allows for a greater plot development, and can really make a lasting impression on your experience. That being said, that is a linear 20 hour game. DW8 has 4 sections of roughly 5 hours each. This would still be satisfactory, except it is the same areas, and the same story. Changing robe colors and spawning on another part of the map is not a separate campaign. You have the same weapons, same moves, same techniques, you just change from blue to green and move a few hundred yards. The story just doesn't go anywhere. There's a bad guy on the throne who is trying to kill a good guy who wants the throne, and they both have 90 billion soldiers to back em up.
Which brings me to the combat system. The ridiculously bad combat system. Want to slaughter thousands of characters at the same time? Trigger Rage mode, hit your Musou attack button, ???, profit. Rinse and repeat the entire area until your kill count is up in the thousands. You can hit 30 people at once with a single sword swipe. That's apparently one very long sword that conveniently shrinks back to standard size if you sheath it. The game is about battle and also magic, but there can't be some realism? Even on the hardest difficulty, you can take a sword in the gut a half dozen times where your enemy dies if you sneeze. The scale from easy to hard was barely noticeable beyond the bad guys taking a couple more hits to kill. And since you wield a magical sword that can shoot lightning (personal choice), it's not that difficult to keep them at bay and eliminate them in droves.
The sheer number of enemies is another problem. Going toe-to-toe against tens of thousands of opponents sounds great, until you spend 45 minutes killing 5,000 of them only to see them continuously respawn out of thin air with horrible textures and blank faces. They are so easy to kill, you might have wiped out a couple hundred before they even render in, which just causes more to respawn. The repetitiveness of the combat destroys this game more than if they shipped a piece of bologna in the case.
Monotony is not only prevalent in the combat system. The character roster has an amazing number of 70 people. This is astonishing for a game to include, however, why they were able to include that many characters is immediately revealed after the first few times you swap characters. They are all pretty much the same. The voices are different, the lines are different, but the emotionless acting and expressions transition from character to character. They use different weapons better than others, but that doesn't add anything to the game, since I can make one guy use the claws and the hook blades even though he's only good with a sword. It really doesn't alter the game in any fashion and feels like a poorly added gimmick.
Ambition mode is the game's only possible saving grace. You can build your own town by defeating enemies and using the money or items found to establish your community. The novelty of this soon wears off, but you may get an hour or two of fun out of it. There's just not enough content to really keep the mini game going. The coolest thing is the animal companions, but unless you used your horse a lot, this won't really add much to the game for you.
Dynasty Warriors just doesn't have what it takes to stand in the big leagues. A mediocre story, bad combat system, gameplay riddled with bugs, and a depressing cast of characters all compound to make this game a dreary mark on the releases of 2013. You would get more of an impact reading a history book about China than playing this sham of a story. Twisting history to make a game only works if the game is any good, which unfortunately this game is not.
Final Verdict: 5/10