Romance of the Three Kingdoms VI: Awakening of the Dragon is the last game in KOEI’s acclaimed historical strategy series that was translated into English. The game was also never released for the PC, but thanks to modern Playstation emulators such as ePSXe, PC gamers now have a chance to experience this underrate classic. For those of you who never played RTK before, this is a conquer-the-kingdom strategy game based on Luo Guanzhong’s celebrated “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” a historical novel set in 3rd century China, where three major warlords – Wei, Shu, and Wu kingdoms, vie for control of the empire. These three kingdoms were eventually reunited into the Jin Dynasty by Sima Yan in 280 AD, with the Shu Kingdom being conquered by Wei in AD 263 and Wu in AD 280. The game lets you play as one of the major, minor, or even custom warlord of your choice, and attempt to unify the whole country. |
Following the same trend in RTK series (the fifth of which was never translated to English, unfortunately), the graphics in RTKVI is much improved over the previous games. Although PC gamers may at first be concerned that the intricate gameplay of earlier RTK games would be “dumbed down” due to limitations of the console system, they will be happy to know that this is not the case here. There are still dozens political, social, and military options for you to choose from on each turn. Personnel management that was the highlight of earlier games is still the core of RTKVI. The presence of 600+ unique characters, most of whom are historically accurate, makes controlling your officers and warriors (e.g. giving them gifts to improve their loyalty, and recruiting competent warriors from other factions) much more fun than ever. The battle scenes, while better animated than RTKIV, are carried over from previous games with some new elements thrown in, such as troop morale and a more interactive sword dueling. Occasionally bad translations (e.g. “excepts” instead of “accepts”) degrades the enjoyment a bit, but they are easily overlooked in the game’s thoroughly addictive gameplay. I also like the larger map screen that makes the confines of each kingdom easier to see than ever.
With excellent graphics, captivating soundtrack and movies, and an engrossing gameplay, RTKVI is a fine entrant in the series that has brought one of China’s most celebrated works of literature to worldwide focus. I feel it is a little bit too easy, though ... much easier than previous games. All told, RTK I and III are still my favorite games in the series, but this sequel is not bad at all, and definitely on par with RTKIV. If you enjoy historical strategy games with a focus on personnel management, RTKVI comes highly recommended. Two thumbs up, way up!
Note: a Playstation emulator and BIOS are required to play the game. Find more information at ePSXe, a great emulator I recommend. You can view the manual on-line at Sain Cai's excellent Five Tigers website below.
Reviewed by: Underdogs