Review by z129000
"Great strategy game with a dramatic story and big hats"
Before we get into this review, allow me to educate those who dislike this game due to it's fictionalized version of the Three Kingdoms era story. Apparently you know very little of Chinese culture, poetry, plays, literature, etc. But there are MANY, hundreds if not thousands, of versions to the Three Kingdoms era. Many are completely fictionalized, only sharing the characters and locations, but they are still legitimate literature. Though I've never personally been, I've heard from Chinese friends that playhouses in China will showcase fictionalized versions of the history. Kessen 2 is just like that. Keep in mind that while Romance of the Three Kingdoms is the most commonly accepted historically based literature of the Three Kingdoms era, it is not alone. RoTK is fiction, and there are many fictionalized tales up there with it. Characters made up by Luo Guanzhong for RoTK, such as Zhou Cang, are exactly like Kessen 2 characters such as Mei Sanniang. So why do people complain about the story? Hopefully that should clear up some confusion..
That said, onto the review..
Though aging, the graphics found in Kessen 2 are extremely good. Detailed in-game character models are amazing, along with the fact that every general has their own unique look. Troops are also quite detailed, and you will see many share the same battlefield. Cut-scenes are done to the utmost quality, even better than those found in the latest KOEI games, such as Dynasty Warriors 4. Magic attacks can be simply breathtaking when positioned correctly. Seeing dozens of troops get shot into the air by a giant bolt of lightening is a very impressive effect.
An area that KOEI has yet to master, the sounds found in Kessen 2 are very disappointing. Though voice-overs seem to have been chosen based on their humor it just isn't fitting for the setting. Many generals sound high-pitched or otherwise incompotent, and battlefield sound effects aren't too much better. The usual generic battlefield sounds are found. And while they do create a sense of battlefield action, they are slightly dissappointing instead of a more unique approach. Music, however, is done very well and compliments the drama found in the story.
Once again, for those disappointed, you should feel lucky. As Americans, it's very rare that we are graced with such a dramatic story based around the Three Kingdoms era. The story found in Kessen 2 contains every famous battle found in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, only it gives it it's own twist. Liu Bei is fighting the tyrant Cao Cao to save his lost love, Diao Chan. He goes through every famous battle of the era based around this twist. Most famous characters found in RoTK are present in this story and lend their own unique character to the game. There are also many new characters provided and many character who have changed significately over RoTK.
The gameplay found in Kessen 2 is very similar to that of most battlefield strategy games. You command individual units within your army to bring down the opposition in pre-setup battles. Only this time around you may actually take control of your general. While you do not rack up the kills as you would in Dynasty Warriors, you can use the general you command to position powerful magic attacks and unit charges which WILL damage the enemy. In between battles you will choose certain functions for your army to do, such as hiring officers, training troops, drafting troops or tiger hunting. All will have effects on how well your force will perform in the next battle.
Overall: 8/10 (not an average)
Kessen 2 is a very fun battlefield strategy game. For those who can't get by the addition of magic or the unique story really can't call themselves fans of the genre or of the Three Kingdoms saga. If that isn't enough to convert those still against the game, you can even skip the story sequences and watch the political backdrop instead. The political backdrop will relay to you all of the events found in RoTK in true RoTK style. Simply press X when the drama sequence begins. But I wouldn't recommend against the use of magic, as it is a battle winning force that is a truely a sight to behold.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/24/03, Updated 06/24/03
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