Review: romance of the three kingdoms xiii


We Three Kingdoms of Orient Are

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It is arguably China’s most enduring work of popular fiction and 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 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, và while those games can be quite a time in their own right, they tend lớn err on the side of the absurd when it comes to portraying the many characters and decisions that characterize the source material. What’s a thinking player khổng lồ 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, 2016 (US), July 8, 2016 (EU), January 28, năm 2016 (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 khổng lồ regularly have a presence on consoles.

“Console strategy game” isn’t the kind of label that inspires much confidence in your average strategy bạn, 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 cấp độ 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-level tactical battles & the politicking, family dynamics, và relationship-building more common khổng lồ the likes of Crusader Kings II. Players are thrust into 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,and a number of scenarios can help phối up the game, from historical ones lớn counterfactual what-ifs, all the way lớn a more free-size mode that sees a player rise the ranks và try to unite the lvà 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 to be influenced by their own rank, relationships, và even geographical location. Working fora larger faction means that players can propose their own plans, và if successful, garner merit và get promotions, which lead to greater authority và the accompanying economic và military benefits. With time, effort, và possibly choosing a higher-ranked character for the scenario, players will be able khổng lồ run cities, appoint ministers, network with other power players in the Three Kingdoms, and live the life of a medieval authority figure, one menu selection at a time.

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Even diplomacy and negotiation, which in many other large-scale strategy titles usually ends up looking overly vague or otherwise boring, gets spiced up a bit thanks lớn some fun “debate” mini-games. Character-specific quests, encounters, and special events help inject more of the historical personality into 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 st& tall with the best Civilization & Total Wartitles with the right presentation. Unfortunately, that’s where the game feels like it falls shordemo.

Outside of some evocative voice acting in both Japanese and Chinese (a very nice touch), the game’s presentation và interface design feels like it came not from a venerable series but from a crowdfunded Total War knockoff. I can’t speak to lớn 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 & control scheme. And I’d say this even if I were reviewing the game on PC, because, frankly, the game does its màn chơi best lớn represent everything you bởi vì via thực đơn selections.

Hechồng, players who opt to resolve their military conflicts via the auto-resolve 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 khổng lồ tick down, before a mission is completed. It can be maddening for someone that wants a more exciting way khổng lồ 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 khổng lồ without too much trouble, even if the gamepad controls on PS4 never quite feel as smooth or responsive sầu as they should be.

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 & interface flair.