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Koei is nothing if not predictable. Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Nobunaga's Ambition are continually updated and serve to entertain existing fans of the series and not many others. Nobunaga's Ambition, as always, is a complicated, deep, and rewarding strategy game. Iron Triangle improves on its predecessor in a couple key ways: a new 3D map and a user-controllable camera. Adding these things to the tried-and-true formula of real-time combat combined with thoughtful turn-based strategy makes for a deep and satisfying historical strategy game. Nobunaga's Ambition has always had a steep learning curve, and Iron Triangle is no different. Those who are already familiar with the series mechanics and those who are willing to read the manual and learn the game mechanics are in for a treat.
For those that don't mind playing armchair general and managing (even micro-managing) every little aspect of expansion, diplomacy (which I hardly got into, really) and combat, you'll be hard-pressed to find a console RTS that's 1/10 of what Nobunaga's Ambition offers. It's most definitely not for everyone (or, I would venture, even most), but the rush that comes from taking down two clans at once while repelling an invading third is nigh on euphoric. The only down side is that, if you've played these games in the past, you know exactly what the feeling is like... because you likely did it all before with last year's game.
Nobunaga's Ambition: Iron Triangle is for the hardcore gamer willing to take on all strategy games, not just mainstream hits.
Provided you have a meticulous nature (if you’re a Koei follower, you probably do), Nobunaga’s Ambition: Iron Triangle is for you. But as usual, this one is specifically designed for the hardcore aficionados out there; if you’ve never before indulged in such an experience, you may want to pass. There’s a whole lot of depth, not a lot of flash, and enough classic strategy involvement to keep you occupied until kingdom come. If this is your bag, pay attention.
Ultimately, Nobunaga's Ambition: Iron Triangle is going to attract a very specific audience — specific enough that it's no surprise that not every game in the series has received a translation (unlike Koei's more action-based franchises or quirky works). The loving attention to historical detail comes at a cost of a truly arcane complexity level and rather plodding pace. However, in the right mindset, both quirks can be wonderful things, especially when the complexity also reveals just how deep and varied the mechanics can be. For sure, no game released in the early phases of this year has come anywhere close to the gameplay length of Nobunaga's Ambition: Iron Triangle — and especially not at the $30 price point.
For the most part the game does a decent job providing feedback for your actions, and it’s too bad that the battles aren’t clear in their outcomes. Naturally, this is a game that asks a huge time investment (and the audience knows this and wants it), so it shouldn’t deter Nobunaga fans. It also works perfectly for the PS2 – next-gen graphics would do next to nothing to make the game better, for obvious reasons. We were amazed at how much time the game swallowed, meaning time was flying, meaning, well, we all know what that means.