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SummaryHighly cinematiqued game or a very controllable movie.
The GoodThis is to be a game that connects onto a "Romance of Three Kingdoms" series, but as I am unfamiliar with those games and/or events, I honestly couldn't care less, 'cos what I got from this game is something very similar I experienced from original Kessen, only this time setting was set in medieval China instead of Japan.
The original game attracted me for its imaginative way of creating an interactive war movie, yet with simplicity of controls and dozens of great cinematics. This one follows its steps, but extends campaign to fource the size of the originator, adding immensely more cinematics to watch.
Saving works just as fine as in the original, after you finish the game, or whenever in the battle itself. This time battles take on a completely new level, not only do you control your troops across vast fields and take control over some bridge or mountain, but in some missions you must even attack or defend entire cities/castles. Also another addition are sea battles where you're limited with your actions since entire battle are aboard the ships.
Very nice, yet sometimes naive, is the use of magic which game now offers you. You will have your mages just as well as your warlords that will serve you, each with certain ability to call lightning, meteor rain, tornado, ice storm and what all not.
There will not be such units with cannons or muskets like in original Kessen, but you can employ the use of various technology adding up some really devastating and unique weapons to your arsenal. Otherwise, your main emphasis goes to regular cavalry and infantry units, which can be upgraded as you end the battle victorious with them still standing.
Another addition, I dunno if that should be called a good one, is that you may now control your hero during the battle itself. That means, that when you issue some command with him such as Raid, you won't see cinematic of him whacking all the opponents on the enemy side, but you'll have a time limit to do that yourself. Whacking your troops by accidence alongside won't do you any harm, or at least I haven't noticed the number of my infantry decreased in such matters. Same goes for evoking magic spells and special actions, you can do them only once you enter the battle itself. You will be given radius for each of your special moves, and depending how many enemy troops will fall into it, the effect will be more (in)efficient.
There's one thing I noticed a lot in the first game, the music. And this one by no means go backwards. Similar music, yet varying from battle to battle, with certain emphasis in some cutscenes, it is worthy to own a soundtrack aside if you can find one. There's even a vocal music in the sole end credits, very beautiful one, too.
The BadWell, as much as I like cinematics in general, some of these were filled with oversilly characters that occasionally ruined the feeling of a game. In effort to try and make the game more funny, they managed to make it more inappropriate.
Also, a big error in battles is now that you almost literally cannot obliterate some enemy unit. It is 99% chance that that unit's morale will fall full rather than that you'll see them all die. Kinda silly, cos if there are like 500 soldiers left, and you attack with 10000 and use all kinda special moves and magic, you still won't reach zero on their side. Whereas in original Kessen, that thing was perfectly balanced, even if you'd attack some unit with 20 times bigger, it'd soon be obliterated and enemy commander would retreat. It is kinda silly and annoying to see how morale falls for no reason or that some unit with 500 swordsmen is killing more soldiers from some unit with 10000 just because bigger number has more flexibility of decreasing.
Also, when finishing a game, you can play it from the start or not, but you cannot play any mission you like just as in original Kessen, which sucks bigtime for a fact there are only 5 or 6 savegame slots. They shouldn't've limit us on both corners.
The Bottom LineThe second in the series, and I wouldn't mind seeing the third, maybe some more modern warfare, like WWI, but we can only hope I presume. This is a nice and interesting game which offers you 11 (if I remember correctly) missions for each of the sides, starting on side of Liu Bei and later playing as his opponent, Cao Cao (only to find the two of them were brothers), having varietly of old and new units such as elephants, dangerous new technologies, using tricks and frauds, magic and spells, and above all, perfect strategies.
Setting up a mine field prior to the battle or digging traps gives this game a little more than just a feel of units' skirmishes. But although this game proves and dominates in its variety, it just doesn't have the seriousness of the originator. But comparing them story-wise, although completely different, it seems like a strange similarity bounds them both.
They did ad a lot more to this game than the originator offered, including humour (which sometimes can be fun, when you see your supreme commander distracted by his lady warlord's breasts). And as usual, for whomever you play, all the women on your side are uniquely in love with your main hero, either that be Liu Bei or Cao Cao. It's a fun game, slightly different form Kessen, but you can get used to it pretty quickly.