Review by Zhuge Liang

"The best installment thus far..."

KOEI's latest installment of this popular Second Century China War-Simulation and turn based strategy game is the best translation of the era yet.

The gameplay is solid, with unlimited replay value, as no single game is ever the same. There are also 10 scenarios to choose from with individual and unique starting circumstances that span different times of the era from the year 184 to as late as 250+. This makes the game not only more enjoyable, but more informative. With each sequel of RTK, they continue to push the game's final playable date farther and farther back, which makes it more inclusive of the latter times when the Shu and Wu Kingdoms were desperately fighting Wei.

Graphics are better than average; especially for a KOEI game. There are certain instances where the graphics could have been better or more complex, but all in all, they were good. The integration of the city in the background of your menus was a nice touch. I think I like that better than the old conventional ''Map of China'' in the background, showing all the individual cities and their rulers.

The dynamics of the games are awesome. Its by far the most complex RTK out there. The addition of the ''Play as Ronin or Officer'' mode adds spectacular dimension to the game, making you feel as if you really are a very small part of the civil war. But, by the same token, as you train and become more and more known, your role develops into more important aspects of governing and ruling. You can be appointed Warlord of a nation, or even Prefect (governor). The new training system is also a very nice touch. You can finally improve and hone your skills as you progress through the game by gaining experience points through studying or performing certain militaristic, civilian, or diplomatic actions.

Another nice touch was the addition of a very involved interaction database... where you can meet and befriend other officers... even your own enemies. By doing this you can grow strong friendships and even perhaps pursuade them to join your own cause. As an officer under a ruler, you may even choose to rebel or throw a coup to take over the throne. These are just a few things among the many that make the game's dynamics a near perfect.

The battle engine is great. Field battles are finally realistic in the fact that you don't know where all your enemy units are without sending out scout units to search the battlefield. Your field of vision is effected by the weather and other obstacles on the field, which generally gives you much more capabilities in plotting strategy. The addition of more traps such as water and rockslides also helps give you more strategic options. You my use ploys such as tricking enemy units into retreating by sending false rumors among their ranks, or even demoralize them by taunts. And yes, dueling is as good as it was in RTK6, where you can choose how your warrior fights.

Sound is much better than recent versions. Orchestrated tracks bring the old Chinese charm into the game and make it much more authentic. The battle tunes are also pretty good.

Game Control is pretty easy to learn. Nothing too annoying.

All in all I'd give RTK7 a 9.5 out of 10. Its a must have for those fans of the Strategy-Sim-RPG kind of game.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/27/02, Updated 07/27/02


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