From these hubs you'll be able to depart in a team of up to four players for the missions themselves. They feature more complicated objectives than some of the other Dynasty Warriors games and tend to climax with a set-piece boss encounter (like a gargantuan, fireball-spitting, flaming statue, straddled by Liu Bei, for example) or some sort of puzzle, but either way, the emphasis on co-operation and teamwork is pronounced. Teamwork will also be required to take on the rank and file, however, because while enemies are fewer in number, their intelligence is more sophisticated.
Helpfully, you'll be given some assistance along the way, with a new fury mode ramping up the power of your musou attacks and a lock-on targeting system that transforms the feel of the game entirely. And finally, missions are generally shorter than their console counterparts, with time limits typically running to 15 minutes (and not 60 as is more typical for the series).
It's these relatively brief, concentrated bursts of gameplay that are so reminiscent of SEGA's online opus, tied to the teams of four players and all of the effort that KOEI is putting in to making sure that members of the Strikeforce community continue to be nice to each other. There is, though, another slightly more worrying comparison to Phantasy Star Online. Like Phantasy Star, Strikeforce will be released on a hardware platform that isn't especially successful over here in the UK.
In Japan, the game makes perfect sense: you can barely leave the house without stumbling into someone who's absorbed, head down in their PSP. In the UK, however, you'd probably struggle to find anyone who's still using theirs. That wouldn't be such a major problem were it not for the fact that you can only play the multiplayer modes in Strikeforce over an ad hoc connection. You might be able to connect to other players using the PS3's adhocParty service, but there's no guarantee, yet, that it'll work perfectly. If it doesn't (or if you haven't got a PS3), it means you'll need to be in the same room as three of your friends, each with their own copy of the game, to fully enjoy Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce.
That's a logistical hurdle that's easily on a par with the embryonically slow internet connections and keyboard scarcity that blighted the early days of the Dreamcast. And it's a hurdle that KOEI will have to clear, at least if it's to persuade gamers to take a punt on the unlikely marriage of its biggest brand to what is, for that brand, a wholly innovative new game design.
Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce is due out for PSP in Europe on 3rd April 2009.