Being an avid fan of DW4 I was quite ecstatic when I heard about DW5. Though not wholly disappointing I don't think this game should be DW5 it should be DW4.5, as there have been no significant improvements.
Graphically there looks to be little or no improvement in this area over the previous versions. I would like to have seen the game engine make full use of the Xbox graphic engine, but sadly it seem the developers thought a direct conversion from the PS2 version is all that was needed. Many of the textures are fairly low resolution and in some cases do not look to wonderful when on screen. A simple re rendering of textures for the Xbox version would have make the game look better and inflict a better level of immersion on the player. With games like 'Far Cry Instincts' hitting the shelf around this time, games that don't pull there socks up like DW5 will look like games that were released about over 3 years ago at the consoles launch.
Even the simple things such as the menu screen have taken a hammering. From the menus seen in DW4, to the simple plain text and lines in DW5 seems to be a step backwards. This leads me to believe something's about this issue of DW aren't all they could be. I will formulate my conclusion later.
Functional is a good word to use, again there seems to be little or no improvement here over DW4, again a little bit of work would not have gone amiss here. The music to me is the same old semi oriental guitar rock. I was hoping for soothing a little more inspiring in this instalment, but sadly it seems the developers did not want to spend the time making this in to the game it could have been.
While in the game things have not changed, the controller layout and actions are still in the same place. Which makes for a smooth transition from DW4 to DW5, this is the only aspect of the game which did not need work. The engine for DW5 looks and feels like the engine from DW4, there are a few tweaks in places for new items. Some major areas are the introduction of Forts and more emphasis placed on supply depots. Other than these improvements there is little or no difference in the way you play the game once you're on the ground and running.
There seems to be a trend with sequels with the number 5 in them, where it's not so much an improvement but more of a side step. DW5 is no exception. One of the main aspects that is missing or I have not found yet is the ability to custom make your own character, and build him up with a weapon of choice. In a world where character customisation is key DW5 seems to have spent it time in the toilet humming loudly.
RIP custom character creation, you were a great friend and an assets to the gaming community.
Another aspect which will be missed is the Henchmen, you no longer get an expanding group, instead you get 1 henchman, you cannot customise them like in DW4, there are a lot to choose from and you can recruit others, however this dose not make up for what was in DW4.
Now I come to possibly the most annoying aspect of the game and what made me not want to play this game any more. The Musou Mode, playing DW4 I got a sense of felling that I was part of an epic struggle, with multiple mission forks based on your actions. I think this part of DW5 will put of many fans of the series and make then think again about buying another Koei game. The 10 stages have been reduced to 5 fairly linear stages, with no alternate forks based of in mission actions. To me this is a fundamental change in to what DW stands for, and something which came as a great shock to me, after I completed all 5 stages in just less than 3 hours, I really did feel cheated out of the game. I really don't know the reasoning behind chopping the missions down to this but it was obvious not the best idea they had.
Grind fest Number 1. I would say DW4 had a good amount of replay ability, if you did well you managed to get your character to the top rank after completing all 10 stages of the Musou Mode, and your henchmen weren't far behind. Now in DW5, you need to play the Musou Mode at least 3 times with each character to get them to top rank. Playing in free mode gets you a fraction of the points you would in Musou mode. So this leaves you with the options of repeat until you vomit or grind in free play. Both bring no enjoyment to the player, I don't want to play each characters Musou Mode 3 times, or spend weeks grinding up a character. At least in DW4 you only had to do the Musou mode once per character, now with having to do the Musou mode 3 times at least your looking at completing the Musou Modes about 150 times to max out all character, as opposed to about 50 in DW4. I know it's important to add replay value in games, but this replay is not fun and rather than extending the life of the game it really puts you off wanting to play it again, it just feels too forced.
One other minor gripe, is the Musou Attack seems to be much more ineffectual than in DW4. In DW4 you would unleash a devastating attack, now in DW5, you seem to do the same damage as your normal attacks. Just with multiple hits, which is no better than just hitting attack all the time. Most of the time I never used Musou Attacks in the game as they were so useless, and I could be more effective with normal attacks.
Though this game is a bit of a let down in many respects, it offers the same game play as DW4, so will appeal too many of those who played the 4th instalment. However that appeal won't be long lasting. Anyone new to the series this is a good place to start, as this is not as complex as DW4 so will offer an easier introduction, the only thing lacking for the new player is a tutorial.
My overall impression of DW5, is a game that is unfinished, because of the next gen consoles. It seems many developers are in such a rush to finish games and get developing for the next gen's, that many of the latter games in this generation are suffering. This instalment of DW falls short of the mark, and may do more damage than good if Koei choose to continue the series on the next gen's. I think it would have been better to scrap the development of DW5 and re-develop it as a next gen title, using the power of the new systems.