Total War: Three Kingdoms review – romance on the battlefield

It’s the latest in a long line of epic strategy games from British developer Creative Assembly, and, ignoring smaller scale spin-offs, the first mainline historical one since 2013’s Rome II.

For years now Total War has been increasing the influence and importance of individual generals and leaders and the Three Kingdoms period presents the prefect way to humanise every battle and have it be more than just an abstract game of toy soldiers.

Total War puts much more emphasis on diplomacy and personal influence, with each character having their own special circumstances and abilities, from being popular with the peasantry, and thereby getting useful bonuses in terms of army recruitment, to a higher social standing that makes it easier to convince enemies to surrender or join your side.

They’re only slightly less powerful in Three Kingdoms and many can take on dozens of cannon fodder soldiers at once and challenge opposing generals to epic duels (so, okay, that is a bit like Dynasty Warriors).

As enjoyable as the Total War games always are their Achilles heel has always been artificial intelligence, which often struggles to offer a realistic, human-like response in battle and on the strategy map.

The Total War games have always been unusually good-looking for strategy titles but Three Kingdoms is especially pretty, with a beautiful watercolour art style that manages to look both realistic and reminiscent of the artwork of the era.

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