Chi has already touched on this in his main review, but I feel compelled to emphasize it even more. The amount of detail, especially historical detail that has gone into Dynasty Warriors 3 is simply mind-boggling. I can think of no other game that offers a database of information about people and events in the game as an option to select from the main menu screen. During the briefing before every battle, one of the options you are given is to read a brief historical context of the battle you are about to fight. The characters and battles in Dynasty Warriors 3 are based on a famous Chinese historical novel, The Romance Of The Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong. (It is worth noting that those of us used to the Yale translations of the characters names will be confused at first, as Dynasty Warriors 3 uses a more modern translation (Cao Cao instead of Tsao Tsao, etc.)) Not only are you offered an incredible number of characters to play with, but no matter who you choose, you will be playing as a historical figure from one of the most interesting periods in Chinas rich history. Quite simply, Koei has created a game that is not only addictively fun, but educational.
Another feather in the cap of Dynasty Warriors 3 is the incredible amount of replay value that you receive. With a grand total of 41 possible characters to play with, and with each character having a different arc of battles in the Musou mode (basically a story mode), as well numerous different items and unique weapons for each character, theres a wealth of replay options here. And each character is highly detailed, using a bright, engaging palette with an excellent range of colors.
Most of the flaws in Dynasty Warriors 3 can be tied, as Chi implied, to the amount of characters the game requires to be on the screen at the same time. This means that aside from people popping in and out of existence, that the draw plane is pretty short and that theres enough fogging that you never get a great sense of the scope of the battlefield. The camera also has a couple of minor flaws, sometimes getting caught behind objects that do not turn transparent and often you are attacked by enemies that you were not aware of. However, most of the time the camera is well-behaved, and considering youre usually fighting in the middle of a swirling melee, its to be expected that people will get shots in from behind you.
Perhaps the oddest part of Dynasty Warriors 3 is the voice acting and the music. The English voice acting is adequate to horrid, with an emphasis on horrid. Thankfully, Koei gives you the option of retaining the Japanese voice acting with English subtitles, which is at least competent, if not spectacular. The soundtrack is dominated by hair-metal guitar riffs that seem wildly incongruous compared to the historical backdrop of the game. At least the music is upbeat and does a good job lending a sense of speed and aggression to the gameplay.
Another drawback that I found myself cursing was the way the game handles plot. Since the game is drawing together a very large body of work with many different characters who will switch allegiances between the 3 main sides, its hard to keep track of what exactly is going on, or what you hope to achieve by winning a certain battle. Although the historical introductions to each battle help somewhat, it is very hard to get a sense of a larger plot line connecting the series of battles you fight through. Additionally, it will certainly take longer than a few weeks of solid play (at least if you are not familiar with the earlier games in the series) to be able to recognize all the various characters and their relationships to each other. Still, Dynasty Warriors 3 is worth the kind of dedication that it requires to move beyond the initially shallow feel of its gameplay and truly explore its depths.
Disclaimer: This review is based on the PlayStation 2 version of the game.