It probably hasn't escaped your notice that Sony released a new console last month - and we're delighted to have not one, not two, not four, but three PlayStation Vitas to give away courtesy of Tecmo Koei.
Like death and taxes, the Dynasty Warriors series has become something of a fixed constant, appearing almost as regularly as a new toothbrush (for me at least) with its tried-and-tested mix of wandering hack-and-slash combat where you steamroller through a sea of similar-looking troops - to the point where developer Omega Force would have us believe that the Chinese perfected cloning well before Dolly the sheep. It's also journalistic custom to review a Warriors sequel with a precursory shrug and a level of "here we go again" acceptance, but in truth, Dynasty Warriors Next is a tangible departure from the Dynasty norm.
Making its Vita debut in timely fashion, Next pillages all 65 characters from Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends while maintaining an equally robust graphics engine. Although the draw distance and volume of on-screen enemies are a fraction less extreme, in all other respects Next is an uncompromising match for its console brother. But far from being a straight-up Dynasty Warriors 7: Takeaway Edition with no distinguishing qualities besides portability, Next takes inspiration from the wider series while playing to the strengths of the new handheld.
That said, it wouldn't be Dynasty Warriors without Omega Force's unique interpretation of the Romance of the Three Kings narrative, and in this regard, the single-player Campaign Mode lives up to expectations by retelling the events of the warring Wei, Wu and Shu Dynasties with a handful of pre-rendered cut-scenes and a cast of one-dimensional characters. But while major events like the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the Battle of Red Cliffs will be instantly familiar to both Dynasty fans and well-read historians, the path to victory is as much about dominating the map as it is about hunting down enemy officers.
Same hack n' slash action, smaller screen.
PS Vita incarnation named.