You see, this term I’m supposed to take a course on usability at university which I do. Thing is, ever since my first - and so far only - visit to the lectures and the group works I’ve started seing usability problems or general lack of good design everywhere. The last occurrence a game insulted me multiple time was Dynasty Warriors 7 (PS3) which I played over at shinji’s place. I’ll lay out some points which I found extremely annoying:
- DW7 is playable in local multiplayer with a split-screen option - which is good. However, the fact that after defeating an enemy general an enormous message window with some completely irrelevant, not context-specific death-dialogue of this general is displayed and makes it hard for both players (though worse for the 2nd player) to see what’s happening around them since it steals a lot of real-screen estate.
- The control mechanic for mounting your horse/elephant (I love the war-elefant)/ whatever is flawed. Your mount will wait for you where you leave it but if you come back, you have to pause slightly in order to not run into your mount an make it evade you, which means you’re not able to mount it. It requires you approaching carefully in order to not trigger the evasive action. I experienced that as a cancellation of the game’s overall very fluent approach in character control.
- There is the option to jump and double-jump, but you should better get accustomed to the fact you’ll only be using this for jumping down from something, since I’ve had multiple occurrences when my character was clearly able to jump much higher than that wooden barricade in front of her and the ground behind it was accessible (so you can’t blame me for wanting to jump out of the level) but there seems to be an invisible extension of about another meter in height pasted onto these blasted barricades. Must be evil magic or karma or something like that.
- Also you have a kind of passive stat for your whole player account that just messures how much DW7 you’ve been playing in order to brag about that on the Internet or grab a trophy. (Seriously, that is the whole point of the “fame” stat.)
- In Conquest Mode (I can’t quite remember but I think it was called that.) you are to choose a character which you’ll play and whose abilities you’ll master while playing through a huge amount of pre-set missions. There is a catch, however: While you are going to level up that character, the roster of people to choose from is immense and it is very painful if you suddenly want to use another character only to find out he/she is by far not skilled enough to withstand the challenges you find in higher levels. So back for some grinding if you want to choose another person.
- To add insult to injury (alas my last argument) while playing cooperative the second character will not be scaled/leveled (not even temporarily) to fit the current character of the first player which makes the whole idea totally unbalanced. You basically have the choice of either sticking with your one great character or sacrifice yourself since you already know how to play the game and offer your trained character to your friend who just came over.
Of course the last point is moot if you choose to train a variety of fighters (or even just two) but the point is: What good brings a gigantic roster if I have to level each person individually and can’t scale him if a friend wants to join me?
Dynasty Warriors 7 (PS3) is part 1 of Dynasty Warriors 7 (commentary):