Our star strategy game reviewer The Duke looks at Paradox latest release.
I got my hands on this game without any prior knowledge what it is about, apart from the fact that it is kind of a strategy game. The game turns out to be real time strategy (it can be paused as well) that has many similarities with turn-based strategies like Sid Meier’s Civilization. The action is based in Japan and addresses the time from the middle ages known as the Warring States period in Japanese history (15th to 17th century).
Initially I found the game a bit confusing.
Once you start the singleplayer game a map of Japan appears on the screen and there are four options to choose from. At least that’s what it looked like, it took me two days to discover that there are a lot more options to pick from the sliding menu.
I picked the first suggested option (none of them made much sense to me at that time) just to see what it was and how to play. To my disappointment there was no tutorial at all. There are very well prepared hints, but they do not cover the basics of the game. Another downfall of the hints is that they are very big (although nicely written) and it takes a lot of time and efforts just to understand how to start and proceed in the game.
However, if anyone is willing to sacrifice their time and spend some of their energy to reach the required level of understanding then they will be well rewarded. The game is beautifully made with a very user friendly interface. Practically anything you touch is interactive and has substantial information. This provides great advantages later in the game and makes the whole experience very enjoyable. However, when someone without any prior knowledge of the game starts it is far too much information to be processed. And I will say it again – the lack of proper tutorial (step-by-step) is the only real letdown.
You start as a leader of one or a few Kori (the smallest size territory unit similar to village) and your aim is to gather power and territories under your leadership. The ultimate goal is to achieve the Shogun title. After the player learns few Japanese terms he can employ political tricks, diplomacy and military power to get his goals. There are two main resources, money and honour, which are more than enough to guarantee you hours of great fun while playing.
One of the best features (which I discovered by mistake after 4 day of playing) is that you can choose to play as any clan leader within the scenarios you initially pick. You just have to click on the map over the clan you prefer before pressing the PLAY button. The question I still cannot answer for to myself is: What is the point of playing with one of the smaller clans if you cannot achieve Shogunate? I feel that some different victory conditions could seriously benefit the game.
To end this review I like to add few words that prise the great effort of the development team. I was pleased to learn so much about the Empire of the Rising Sun. The facts and the maps that the game uses are very well researched (at least to some European guy) and a fantastic effort was mead to expose the player to the eastern spirit and culture. The art in the game is also fabulous.
With better tutorials I could have given it a higher score, but it still deserves a respectable…
7 overthrown Emperors out of 10