Review by KuanLongasCloud

"What could have been a spectacular game gets marred in the process..."

Alright, I was looking forward to Kessen II for a while after thoroughly enjoying Kessen. I would have been fine with more of the same. So I went out and bought it recently. I admit that it was pretty fun for the first few missions (though the tutorial was annoyingly presented) and so I spent about an hour absorbed in it. Of course I was really annoyed by the voiced acting (Cow Cow anyone? Honestly, learn to pronounce it... now repeat after me, ''Ts'ao Ts'ao'' very good class) of course I relized that this was part of Koei's attempt to westernize a game about Latter Han China. I could even live with the ''creative embellishments'' to the story which followed the vague outline of SGYY (Liu Bei has control of H'sia'pei but is forced to flee to Jing, meets Kong-Ming, partakes in the battle of Red Wall, goes to Shu, takes it over from the incompetent Liu Zhang, fights with Cao Cao, battles with Wu (though is beaten badly by Lu Xun). That is where historical similarities end and then it takes a life of its own. But that's OK since obviously Liu Bei needs to defeat evil Wei Emperor (who was never Emperor...) Cao Cao and reunite China. Yay!! Now I come to the parts that killed this game:
The entire usage of magic (though fitting in with SGYY to an extent) got really annoying when a battle becomes a race to see who can launch the most fireballs first (you of course, the AI is utterly incompetent in close combat). If it had been limited a bit more and was not so powerful as to wipe out entire armies in two spells I would have been fine with it. But as it is, it just pissed me off.
Next is the way personal combat is carried out, you just hop into control of one of your most powerful generals and BOOM its like Lu Bu vs. the horde in DW 3 except for you cant get killed. The martial based commands of Kessen (raid, duel etc.) that could be used to gain a decisive but not overwhelming advantage have been butchered into army slaughtering skills that involve you simply pointing your person in the right direction and annihilating 1/4 of your enemies troops. Apparently the enemy AI hasn't decided to condescend to use these tactics with any effectiveness which makes pretty much every battle a breeze.
Next is the oversimplification of your strategies... back in Kessen you could tweak them to your heart's content but now your given 3 (often all crappy) choices.

This doesn't mean that the game doesn't have srengths, it does, but in my view it is best left as a one time rental.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 07/16/02, Updated 07/16/02

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