I was told there was romance to be had… I was just not informed it was a bromance. Koei Tecmo’s latest entry to the Three Kingdoms take you back to an ancient time, a time where at its peak, grabbing a pike and a group of friends is the quicker way to own a piece of land. From China’s most beloved and popular work of fiction comes one of the many adaptations to a long line of historical anarchy and insurrection.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV depicts what it’s like to be a warlord in ancient China. All but with one goal – to unite the land through tactical knowledge, brute force and sheer numbers. From the grand era of the Yellow Turban Rebellion to the very climactic end of the Three Kingdoms, there’s a lot of things that go hand in hand that makes the grand strategy a very fulfilling one to keep yourself invested on if not at all. When it comes to its progression, you either hate it or love it, but coming from someone that enjoys a good game of Red Alert 2, which I have to say is a completely different genre, the entire premise feels rather slow due to its broader scale and rather complicated mechanics – switching from planning to execution phases alongside the many options at which you can spend your limited number of orders per turn.
As far as the game goes, you are greeted with a massive field with an even more massive number of tiny little hexes encapsulating the entirety of mainland China. Each having their own properties like a poisoned swamp that can easily decimate a small force should you not be paying attention or mountainous regions that hinders movement. But unlike the real-time strategy games where I grew up with, a grand strategy game often gives you time to think of your actions. As such, the first phase of the game starts off with planning your course of actions such as conquering new land, delegating personnel to specific regions or giving out titles to your favourite officers and many more before going into its second phase which is executing those orders and seeing how the battle for world domination unfolds.
RTK 14 does provide a simple yet effective resource management system aside from letting you make multiple AI-controlled divisions should your force get too big to micromanage. However where it gets too complicated for newcomers is its robust battle mechanics like formations to use, a number of troops to bring, tactics to learn or cutting off an enemy’s supply route aside from creating structures to help you in battle. But it’s also worth mentioning that the game does provide you with an auto command that creates a force depending on your specific needs although that’s just half the war and the other is forming alliances with neighbouring forces or initiating plots to weaken their numbers which deepens the entire experience.
Although what really caught my attention here is how you can plant your mark and sow the seeds to make each and every playthrough unique. The game lets you create a total of 150 original officers from the hot waifus to the old and hunky men of war. They can then be sent to the field to be recruited, set with its own banner or even aligned to an already existing ruler. At one point, I just went crazy painting the southern part of China red with my original character as a ruler and with an army consisting of only female officers to lead the charge.
Visually, the game looks great for what it’s worth. There are tons of amazing-looking character portraits and the world itself looks gorgeous. But if there’s one thing I find a little disappointing here is that it tends to be a little too forsaking with its hand-holding. While it does give you a simple and quick rundown of the basics to let you survive in the game, it fails to really teach you how the controls work, in which I had to run through the options menu and open a manual that would then open up a web browser to the game’s website before finally learning how to control the camera views. Yes, all that to learn how to zoom in and out. And this is something that is very common throughout the game, most things require a lot of squeezing between the cracks and jumping through hoops to get to specific menus such as knowing my relationships with other factions or simply checking every city that requires an overseer. I just wish there was a quicker way to check all this information with a few simple clicks to get back to the action quicker.
In a nutshell, RTK 14 is a good title that has some great value if you don’t mind spending a lot of time learning how the game works and experimenting on your own. Despite its intimidating nature, it at least tries to make the game simple and easy to play thanks to its auto commands for just about anything like creating armies for different situations or when placing officers to specific titles and roles. If you can look past its shortcomings, you can look forward to a deep and engaging strategy game that would have you coming back for more.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV is Developed by Koei Tecmo Games and is available on PlayStation 4 and PC
This review is based off the PlayStation 4 of the game.
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Romance of The Three Kingdoms XIV
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV, also known as Sangokushi 14, is the 14th instalment in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms strategy game series by Koei. It was released on January 16, 2020, for the PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows in Japan and Taiwan.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 49.99