Welcome to ancient China, where there is so much backstabbing and overthrowing it makes Game of Thrones look like Kingdom Hearts. If you take a look back at the huge number of dynasties that have been in power of China in the past, you know what I’m talking about. Powerful warlords and skilled warriors combined with child emperors and scheming eunuchs make the perfect cocktail for disaster. With Total War: Three Kingdoms, Creative Assembly allows you to drop right into the heart of battle as you command generals, strategize battle plans, and hope to end up as the Emperor of unified China. It’s a huge goal, no doubt, and Creative Assembly seems to have nailed it, with critics giving the game 9/10 and Total War fans agreeing that this is possibly the best Game in the series. Who knew watching peasants fight could be so much fun!
If you take a look at the story behind this game, you will notice that it sounds pretty realistic. That’s because it is. Set in third-century China, you’re placed right in the middle of a huge mess. The mess itself began quite some time ago, with warlord after warlord commanding six-figure armies in a struggle for power. When the game begins, there are three main kingdoms, although it should be more appropriately called three dynasties.
At the very start of the game, before you go around changing the course of history, everything is pretty accurate. The only thing I can say about the story is that everything is historically accurate to the point where the game starts because whatever happens from that point onwards is entirely decided by you. So, this really is your own story.
The gameplay has been ramped up and improved in many aspects. As with the other Total War games, you still command huge battalions of armies, but there is quite a number of factors that go into whether or not you will win the battle. This game introduces a Guanxi system, which concerns friendship and loyalty. As your generals continuously fight battles together, their trust and loyalty improve, meaning that during a battle, they will fight better.
If one of them dies, this may affect the other. Conversely, if you put two generals who hate each other to lead your armies in battle, they might start pulling in two ways, making your life hell. This is just one of the biggest changes Creative Assembly has done compared to the other Total War games, and the gameplay itself is extremely diverse. The next most notable change in Total War: Three Kingdoms is that you now have the ability to choose between two gameplay modes: Romance and Records. The Records gameplay is as physically accurate as possible, with the generals being skilled mortals who matchup to a handful of ordinary soldiers. Some people say that this version of the gameplay is best due to how realistic it is. Others say that they prefer the Romance gameplay. The Romance gameplay is based on the historical novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, and that mode takes a deep dive into the world of fantasy. The generals come with superhuman strength and the ability to pretty much take out entire armies with a swing of their glorious blades. This is yet another addition that wasn’t seen in the previous Total War games.
Like with most Total War games, the graphics requirements are arguably high. But unlike with most Total War games, the performance of the game is excellent. Lag was one of the great drawbacks of the predecessors of this game.
You could have a monster rig but the game would still frequently lag, and everybody knows that lag is what makes gamers violent. Considering that aspect, Total War: Three Kingdoms is a definite improvement. This is not to say that the game doesn’t lag at all; there are parts where you might notice a bit of lag. But other than that, it’s all good. Talking about the graphics itself, the vibrantly colored world with its dynamic lighting is pretty stunning and captures the beauty of ancient China in its whole.
That is if you ignore all the dead bodies lying at your feet. Of course, since ancient China did actually have hundreds of thousands of people slaughtered all around the place, that’s pretty realistic too.
If I was to talk about all the new game mechanics that have been introduced into the franchise, I wouldn’t be able to stop. You’re pretty much in control of an entire civilization, and it is your job to maintain everything concerning your empire. You had to keep the civilians happy, your armies happy, make sure they have plenty of rest, food, and all other needs. You have to make sure your generals work well with each other, maintain diplomatic ties, forge alliances and occasionally, stab someone in the back. Every action you take has its repercussions, either immediately or sometime later. You have to think twice before attacking enemy factions, and you have to make sure that you have complete control over your empire. Slip up just a couple of times and you’ll find yourself rapidly losing control. Talking about how your armies fight each other, it’s quite a treat to watch. Generals can engage in one-to-one combat and watching that is a real treat too.
While the game has major visual improvements, game audio has been left, for the most part, same. When you ride into battle, your soldiers and generals go around quipping and trash talking which is pretty fun to listen to. Other than that, it’s pretty much always the sounds of metal hitting metal and dying screams. To be fair, the sounds and voices of the Total War games were pretty good to start with, so there really was no point in trying to improve it further.
Wrapping it Up…
Total War: Three Kingdoms has improved in every aspect compared to its predecessors. The player is given more choice, with more options on how he can go about controlling the Empire. You could choose to be constrained by history, or you could go out on an all-out fantasy adventure. The graphics are beautifully done and well optimized to capture the vastness of China in one big picture. All in all, this is easily the best Total War game to ever exist, and for all the right reasons. Who knows, maybe the next game in the franchise will try to grab the title for itself!