We Three Kingdoms of Orient Are

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It is arguably China’s most enduring work of popular fiction & the subject of countless pop-cultural adaptations in Asia. But for the better part of twenty years, English-speaking gamers have had just one sản phẩm to lớn play ambassador for the tale of Wu, Wei & Shu.

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I am, of course, referring khổng lồ Koei Tecmo’s never-ending Dynasty Warriorsseries, and while those games can be quite a time in their own right, they tover lớn err on the side of the absurd when it comes to lớn portraying the many characters and decisions that characterize the source material. What’s a thinking player to do?

This year, at least, Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIIImay well be the answer.


Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII(PlayStation 4 , PC)Developer: Koei TecmoPublisher: Koei TecmoReleased: July 5, năm nhâm thìn (US), July 8, 2016 (EU), January 28, năm nhâm thìn (JP)MSRP: $59.99

Of course, calling this game “the thinking player’s Dynasty Warriors” would be a rather grievous rhetorical sin, not in the least because Romance of the Three Kingdoms long predates the Warriorsfranchise. It’s also a different game entirely, being the thirteenth installment of the venerable strategy game series. Indeed, Romance of the Three Kingdoms has the honor of being one of the only strategy series to regularly have a presence on consoles.

“Console strategy game” isn’t the kind of label that inspires much confidence in your average strategy fan, conjuring memories of poorly-adapted control schemes, dumbed-down mechanics, or both. But whileRomance of the Three Kingdoms XIIIdoesn’t quite triumph on the first count, its màn chơi of depth is absolutely unimpeachable.


Indeed, the game itself plays lượt thích the hybrid of a China-setTotal Wartitle và one of Paradox’s grand strategy games, blending a map-conquest-based strategic core with field-cấp độ tactical battles & the politicking, family dynamics, và relationship-building more comtháng to lớn the likes of Crusader Kings II. Players are thrust inkhổng lồ the floppy shoes of a up-and-coming leader in the chaos of China’s Three Kingdoms period. Historical figures và characters from the fiction lượt thích Cao Cao and Sun Jian can be selected, but players can create their own characters, selecting from someabsolutely glorious characterportraits by artist HiroyukiSuwahara,và a number of scenargame ios can help mix up the game, from historical ones to lớn counterfactual what-ifs, all the way to a more free-size mode that sees a player rise the ranks & try khổng lồ unite the l& under their banner.

So far, so Civ, but the twist here is where players literally embody a single person in all this chaos, leaving their possible actions lớn be influenced by their own rank, relationships, and even geographical location. Working fora larger faction means that players can propose their own plans, and if successful, garner merit và get promotions, which lead to greater authority and the accompanying economic & military benefits. With time, effort, và possibly choosing a higher-ranked character for the scenario, players will be able lớn run cities, appoint ministers, network with other power players in the Three Kingdoms, và live sầu the life of a medieval authority figure, one menu selection at a time.

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Even diplomacy và negotiation, which in many other large-scale strategy titles usually ends up looking overly vague or otherwise boring, gets spiced up a bit thanks to lớn some fun “debate” mini-games. Character-specific quests, encounters, & special events help inject more of the historical personality inlớn the game proper, but outside of the story-driven “Hero Mode” – which is really more of a campaign-length tutorial than anything else – Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIIItends khổng lồ be a bit dry và scholarly.

All the same, the whole package presents an intoxicating mixture of mechanics, one that could stvà tall with the best Civilization & Total Wartitles with the right presentation. Unfortunately, that’s where the game feels like it falls shortest.

Outside of some evocative voice acting in both Japanese and Chinese (a very nice touch), the game’s presentation & interface design feels like it came not from a venerable series but from a crowdfunded Total War knockoff. I can’t speak to the kind of differences involved in budget or development resources between Koei Tecmo’s teams and The Creative sầu Assembly, but the sheer depth of the game’s mechanics at play deserve sầu a more intuitive và easily read interface và control scheme. And I’d say this even if I were reviewing the game on PC, because, frankly, the game does its cấp độ best to lớn represent everything you vày via thực đơn selections.

Heông xã, players who opt lớn resolve their military conflicts via the auto-resolve sầu may never get out of the endless menus. What’s more, when one isn’t selecting things from any number of menus, one is waiting for a timer lớn tichồng down, before a mission is completed. It can be maddening for someone that wants a more exciting way to lớn present all the weighty decision-making at work.


At the same time, this is a strategy title, & I can’t fully blame the game for prioritizing information over gloss. If nothing else, the interface can be adapted to lớn without too much trouble, even if the gamepad controls on PS4 never quite feel as smooth or responsive as they should be.

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Perhaps Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII‘s most lasting achievement will be once again proving that strategy games canwork on consoles. And though it doesn’t quite make the case for console strategy ever really being as good as PC-based efforts, the game is worth trying for anyone who can let their historical curiosity overcome their need for visual and interface flair.