I've been jumping around a lot with the Dynasty Warriors series, but after playing Dynasty Warriors 2 a few years ago I've been wanting to make more progress working my way through other titles in the series, so I spent some time with Dynasty Warriors 3 (also on PS2).
I'd found Dynasty Warriors 2 to be pretty stiff and slow, but Dynasty Warriors 3 has a lot of changes that overall make it much more recognizable as a Warriors title. The same trademark "one against thousands" gameplay is present, but the gameplay is much smoother. The special moves feel more like other Warriors games I've played, and battles feel faster paced. Once again health-restoring items are limited and I ended up having to waste a lot of time backtracking to find items, which is annoying, but they added a "save anywhere" bookmarking system which is a vast improvement over the limited saves from the original game. There's also a basic equipment system where you can collect and equip items that give minor bonuses, a new (albeit pretty minor) ability to ride elephants in some stages, and also a new recovery move you can activate when you're getting knocked down. I hadn't really explored the character roster in the previous game, but the number of characters increased significantly in Dynasty Warriors 3 (40 vs. 28) and there seems to be more variety as well.
I played through the seven-stage story mode of one character and did a couple of free play stages, but I didn't quite feel compelled to play through much more than that. I'm guessing all the Warriors games are going to be pretty similar from here on out, and since it's easy to pick up cheap copies of the older games I'm planning on dipping into the other games in the series without spending too much time on any individual one. I've kind of been getting the urge to go back and play more of Fire Emblem Warriors, but we'll have to see about that, especially since the follow-up to Hyrule Warriors is coming out in just a month and a half.