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I've gotten a chance to test drive Nobunaga's Ambition for awhile. This is something that will likely only interest about four people, but what the fuck, I'll go forth anyway...

The presentation is pretty good. They're not trying to force Samurai Warriors down our throat like ROTK XI, at least, and that's a good thing. However, it's very hard to get used to the sheer number of names in this game, and how often they change, etc.; unlike ROTK, where I know "OK, I don't want Cao Cao to get too big", or "Ignore Yuan Shu because he's going to disappear without a trace", here, I don't know much of anything other than "Nobunaga and Hideyoshi are good", and Hideyoshi, I had to Google!

Well, there's also the fact that Hideyoshi - who still has his youth name at this point - is gaining statistics at an alarming rate. I'm having to research the history behind these people, but it's helping me learn, though it's going to take WEEKS before I can effectively plan out strategies with history as my guide.

There's a tutorial that does a good job in getting your hands wet, but be wary, as it's long and peppered with a lot of unskipable, useless speech. It's not as bad as the Alternate Universe-like crap in ROTK XI's tutorial, but it's still longer than it has to be.

Once you get into the game, the story is told very nicely, even if they play up the narrative away from the history a bit much, though that shouldn't be surprising for ROTK veterans. If there's anything that is a bit dissettling, it's the fact that there's almost no way to get a strong foothold; you can't just create an officer, have him select an untaken territory and then play as him. You have to select a ruler, and every inch of Japan is owned by someone. That means my officer creation was essentially useless. This is common for all Nobunaga releases, but my stance is, why have officer creation if you can't actually use your officer without being able to rule him, save for some lucky chance?

The gist of building in NA goes that you need to get gold, food and troops. To do these, you have to build farms, markets and barracks, and some other structures come into play as well though those are your main staples. Starting out, you can only have 10 places you can put property per fief, which means you end up in a nice little game of "guess what you need"; I had a lot of markets and farms in the beginning when I started out (As Nobunaga), but as I moved along, I couldn't build anymore barracks because I didn't have the rank to do so. I literally had to raze a market to build more barracks. It's not like I didn't have the land; when you build things, you're shown a graph of your fief, with land that's rated as good, fair or poor, and there's well over 10 boxes. The only reason you can't build more is that you don't have the proper rank to build more, and honestly, I don't see the logical reasoning behind this. It seems a silly limitation, and furthermore, once someone gets to the point where they can build more, they can acquire so many resources that losing the game becomes inevitable. When you're starting out as a smaller fief - even as Nobunaga in the first scenario (there are only four) - if you don't move, and I mean, MOVE, you're essentially stuck.

Another annoying thing is that all of your collection comes infrequently; you harvest once a year, you get your money once a year, and that's it. And if there's no traveling salesman, you cannot buy or sell anything for when you need money (and you WILL need money; orders are 500G a piece, which is steep). Due to the fact that orders are so expensive, some time periods will go buy without any orders given, as you wait for new years to get money. Effectively, there are eight times a year to give orders - the seasons, and times in between when the weather gets shitty - and building items can cost anywhere from 500G to about 5,000G; it's expensive to do anything, so a lot of time is wasted just waiting for the fruits of your labour. The good news with only being able to build 10 different items is that you can "develop" them up to four different levels, at 500G apiece. However, it's really frustrating to raze a Lv. 4 anything just because you need to be able to build more barracks. Too much "hurry up and wait" for my tastes. And while you build up your troops automatically, it really sucks that you can't train them or anything; war is more a game of attrition and numbers than anything. If anything, the domestic commands - while trying to be deep - aren't very deep at all. You build things, protect against floods, improve order, and occasionally view a ceremony to build stats. That's it.

Wars are more RTS than they've ever been, and they're also more... I guess "realistic" is the proper term. The Art of War states that to win an offencive battle, it requires three times the amount of troops, and that seems to hold water here, too. You have to march your troops along long distances to get to the enemy's fortifications, and even then, you're getting pounded by them; it's almost an inevitability that you're going to have to march all the way back, heal at your own fortification, and come back, and with a thirty day limit, most offencive battles end up with you being out-waited. The good news, at least, is you can give your troops orders while paused (a good thing, as keeping track of things can be difficult, and the interface can best be described as "whore's pussy sloppy"). But even then, there doesn't seem to be much of a difference in the troops; some can be used long-distance, some can be used up-close, but none seem to have a really big effect on anything. Basically, if you can get a structure conquered in time to rest your troops and win the war of attrition, you'll win, and if not, you'll lose.

There's also Kessens, which are massive wars between large Warlords, which I haven't seen yet, but essentially, the main drag of them is that if you lose, you could lose everything. It's not like ROTK X, where you could lose a massive campaign and not lose TOO much. Again, I haven't seen one in action.

But what I do know is that while autoplaying for a bit, I noticed that one turn, there would be two major forces at war, and the next, one of those forces would be nearly destroyed. This is because one force would send an army out from one fief to another, fight, and win... then send out another... and another. Essentially, they would win by overwhelming the opponent before the opponent could react. What's even worse is that distance didn't seem to mean anything. Hold the fucking phone. You mean to tell me that an army can literally - stress that, LITERALLY - march from modern day Osaka all the way to modern day Akita (or, practically across the ENTIRE ISLAND), and not have problems, but when they get there, all of a sudden, marching across a little river is cause for problems? It takes no time to make that march, but once they get to the battlefield, they have problems winning in 30 days?




Overall, Nobnuaga's Ambition is a good game, but it has a few glaring flaws which practically kill it's overall appeal. I'd recommend it so far based on the fact that I can't remember the the last time we've had a NA game released in English, but anyone looking just for a Koei style strategy game would do better with ROTK X or even ROTK VII. And as this is mainly written for Helen (bardiche), personally, with this game costing about $100AUD, I'd wait and see if the price can come down, or if there's a way to rent it.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
burning_phoneix
Feb. 18th, 2008 09:28 am (UTC)
The only real ROTK game I've played is XI.

And that tutorial was long....and weird. 0_o
superbus
Feb. 18th, 2008 09:30 am (UTC)
XI sucked, and the tutorial was flat-garbage. If you want a really good ROTK game, play X, as in your area, VII might not be available.
burning_phoneix
Feb. 18th, 2008 09:42 am (UTC)
Do not underestimate the skills of my mad piracy. XP

Actually, the very first Romance of the Three Kingdoms I played was VI:Awakening the Dragon back in '98.

I was only 11 or 12 at the time and I really didn't understand anything and didn't even play it much. I still have it lying around XDXD
samuraiter
Feb. 18th, 2008 10:06 pm (UTC)
*grins*

Sounds like the fundamentals of NA haven't changed since the NES original. No room to expand without having to go to war, and you can't afford to lose a fight.
bardiche
Feb. 19th, 2008 12:46 am (UTC)
This, of course, is assuming Koei releases the damn thing here. XDD I did import X and XI in times prior, and I pretty well agree with the assessment - XI is designed to draw in the DW crowd and PROBABLY the real old school crowd that may have got turned off by the "play a character" role in VIII and X, but X is by far the better game.

Nobunaga's Ambition... I remember abandonwaring the second game on PC? And that was released in English during the late 80's/early 90's. Back then, it seemed like Koei were making strategy games for every well known period of Asian myth/hystory.

It's nice to know that if the thing does arrive out here (I'm not holding my breath, to be honest), while not a must buy, isn't a total piece of crap.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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