In many ways, Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI is much like the love that old people have for each other: it’s deep, it’s been going on for a long time, and to most people it’s completely impenetrable. You don’t understand how this decrepit system has kept together all this time, but it turns out that there’s real beauty behind it all, once you take the time to look past the silence and weirdness.
The problem isn’t so much that RTKXI doesn’t ease you into its world – its exhaustive tutorial takes two hours – it’s just that RTKXI has got so much to teach you that your head will spin. It lacks the logical connections that most strategy games have – for example, to build around a city, you have to select the city, click build, then click on randomly placed build areas, instead of just clicking an icon and building. Every action seems to have four or five menus behind it, each one with drop-downs, resources, time constraints and statistics that they abide by. When you have to build things in six cities, controlling it all becomes an absolute nightmare.
Then you have the complexities of keeping the will, supplies and vehicles of troops under control. This is complicated by each action you need to take requiring a general, and each general having different statistics and specialities. As PC gamers, we’re not shy of reams of statistics – but RTKXI is confounding. Even now, when we have a grasp of what is going on, it remains bewildering. Once you work out plausible stratagems, you’ll find it incredibly satisfying to execute them – but first you’ll need to understand the balance between resource gathering, statistic building and troop marching.
All that, and comprehend several other columns of numbers. RTKXI has hours of mile-deep strategy, and will appeal to a certain person – someone with the patience of a saint and the ability to take on a great deal of information that doesn’t connect in any logical construct. And indeed, someone who can tolerate an over-complicated interface, a serious amount of number-crunching and aged graphics.
Sep 9, 2008