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Romance Review

September 11th, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 8 Comments · Crispy Gamer, Review

Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI is worth a look. It’s not the kind of game that I would play every night, and I still don’t feel like I have a firm grasp of the diplomacy or on how many retainers I should actually have to start with to get a fair shot.

But I like how it presents interesting strategic and tactical decisions. Retreating is often the best course and I love converting enemy generals, though their loyalty always seems to be higher than that of my own men. It’s repetitive and unclear and in dire need of UI triage. But it’s still appealing.


8 Comments so far ↓

  • Michael A.

    Will you be writing a review?

    I messed around with the demo, but its quite stupidly limited (having to play through the irritating tutorials each time to get a chance at a crippled scenario), and it didn’t really “catch”.

  • Troy

    The link in the post is to the review.

    The tutorials aren’t very good at giving you a sense for the full game and the lack of proper documentation doesn’t help. The ingame Civilopedia type thing is OK, but it took a while before I really felt like I “got it”.

  • Michael A.

    Doh! I need to get a new monitor, my old one is giving out. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. ;-)

  • Chris Nahr

    Troy, since you complain about documentation, did you play a review copy without a manual? My European retail copy comes with a brief paper manual but the installation contains a fairly extensive 45-page PDF manual in the Doc folder. This manual explains the effect of special items in duels, for example (page 29) which was something you complained about.

    I was also rather amazed that you said different troop types didn’t matter much. Sure, pikes and spears are basically very similar, but surely you noticed the difference between bows (ranged attack) and siege engine (building attack) and horses (increased movement)? Even spears and pikes are quite different when it comes to tactics and technique upgrades (page 18 in the PDF manual).

    I haven’t played much yet but so far I think Romance does an excellent job of integrating a very sophisticated tactical combat system with grand strategy, all on the same map. The interface is certainly consolish but also fairly obvious and easy to use. Maybe the redundant clicks will get annoying as I play more but so far I’m fairly happy with it.

  • Troy

    Yep, no review manual and my request for one went unanswered.

    The differences between siege engines and bows are obvious, but a lot of the time it seems that it comes down to numbers, especially with the pikes, swords and spears. Once you throw in leaders and upgrades, the tradeoffs between outfitting your troops and just sending 2000 men instead of 6000 are even less clear.

  • Chris Nahr

    Oh dear. The PDF manual is really quite excellent — 45 pages crammed with neat lists and tables in small print and even a few comics, much better than the rather lame in-game help.

    I expect/hope that the US version will include the English manual since it’s just a PDF file anyway. Clearly it’s Koei’s fault for not supplying the manual with the review copy but I fear that the lack of this manual has given your review a somewhat unfair slant.

    I don’t know if you’ll want to revisit the game once you have the manual, but if the US version does come with one I think you ought to add a note to your review that it was written without it.

    As for numbers vs equipment, I’ll have to play more before I can assess that, but I can immediately think of several reasons why you would want to prefer equipment over numbers: first, recruiting is a nasty business that lowers the morale of your troops *and* of your city; second, more troops eat more food all the time whereas weapons just cost a one-time amount of gold; and third, you need specific equipment to match your officers’ aptitude, to use tactics, and to benefit from technique upgrades.

  • Troy

    Oh sure, there are lots of other trade offs with recruiting that would keep you to 2000 men instead of 6 or 10. The cumulative effect of weapons v numbers just doesn’t feel clear to me.

    And don’t focus on the negative. I like RotTK XI. If you can get past the repetitiveness and opaque diplomacy, it’s quite enjoyable. The range of tactics is great, probably deeper than many recent TBS games. It needs better feedback and even the in game help could be improved.

    But “try it” is not a slam; it’s a cautious recommendation.

  • Chris Nahr

    I wasn’t really thinking of the score but of your specific complaints about unclear features and the explicit bullet point “poor documentation” among the negatives at the top. Clearly there a many things that aren’t perfect or matters of taste; I just don’t think documentation is one of them.