Review by ElatedVenusaur
A Masterful Strategy Title
Koei has done it! They've provided us with a Romance of the Three Kingdoms that has immersive officer play combined with an excellent battle system, all set to a score of beautiful orchestrated music!
I cut this game some slack for being a RTK game, but it truly is the best looking one yet. Nearly all of the characters have well-drawn and colored portraits(doubtless not as good looking on the PS2, but, whatever). The China map is expansive and detailed, and character avatars are pretty decent, with many of the famous characters sporting their own unique sprites. Battlefields are pretty detailed, but the troops and attacks aren't. The fire effects are pretty realistic though....
This is where the game truly shines. From the start, you'll be overwhelmed with all the things you can do. You can travel across China and even talk to(or attack!) people on the road. Yes, you too can be a nasty brigand, picking on poor saps like Liu Zhang. You can take on quests at the Tavern. They're usually pretty simple, but they offer good rewards. Dueling has been revamped yet again, and is quite entertaining. Debating is basically dueling for the smart, weak people, but it is quite fun. Both of them are a bit "luck of the draw", especially debating, where skills like "Incite" and "Awe" can really screw you up.
Playing as a ruler is perhaps even more fun than playing as an officer, as there is no longer any AP system to worry about, and officers typically do their assigned tasks very well. The AI leaves something to be desired, but you can always play with....say...Kong Rong to fix that. The game is finally tied to historical events, but don't worry, as you can turn them off or simply screw them up(which is easy).
Not much to say, except that everything is easy to manage.
Replay Value: 10/10
There are so many officers to play as, it's not even funny. Not to mention you can create your own officers, with complete freedom to assign them any stat-line from all 100s to all 1s. Skills are randomized and are based upon your character's personality. You can unlock the ability to get better skills by maxing a character(all stats 100 and all skills), and simply by seeing officers, animations, stills, and collecting items, you can unlock NPC, historical officer, Nobunaga's Ambition, and Kessen III portraits to use for your created officers. All of this is nearly impossible to accomplish in one game, and there are so many ways to play that you could play this game forever and still experience new things.
Everywhere you go, you'll be accompanied by beautiful, orchestrated scores that are all of good length and free of painfully noticeable skipping
Sounds Effects: 6/10
Nothing that great...'cept for fire sound effects...but who cares?
Why isn't it a ten? No multiplayer! It's incredibly immersive, but a friend makes a far better opponent than the AI.
Buy or Rent?
If you can find it to rent it, do that first. RTK isn't for everyone, but it certainly helps if you love strategy games and/or history. DW players will have no problem recognizing the story and some of the characters.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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