From the Archive: Look to the East (For Grand Strategy)

By Joe Robinson 11 Aug 2017 0

Welcome to another edition of From the Archive, where we talk about strategy games that existed prior to the birth of Strategy Gamer. Tied together by a core theme, we will be bringing you older content from our sister websites and beyond to allow you to rediscover old gems while we work on exciting, new content for you on the latest upcoming releases.

In today’s entry, we’re celebrating the release of Total War: Warhammer’s latest DLC update. Considering Creative Assembly had previously said they weren’t going to be doing any more expansions shortly after they announced Total War: Warhammer II Total War Hammerer, the Norsca update was a welcome surprise.

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Adding in the Viking-themed Norsca faction, complete with a new unit roster & campaign objectives, you can read what T.J. thought of the DLC in our review (Spoiler: He was quite impressed). We’ve also formerly ported over our review of the base game to Strategy Gamer from our sister website The Wargamer.

Total War: Warhammer had a bit of a timid start, although it was still generally considered the best game in the series to date, and has since cemented that position through DLC campaigns and new factions with interested play styles. You can read Matt’s full review here.

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We’re mainly here to highlight to other games however. Despite being a leading name in strategy gaming, not many contenders have risen to try and tackle the hybrid RTS/TBS formula that Creative Assembly have been perfecting over the years. Sure, there have been some, but generally people tend to pick one or the other and try to do that well.

Asian studios have secretly been making some cracking strategy games for years, and no one really notices most of the time. From the tactical legends of Final Fantasy Tactics & Fire Emblem, to charming gems like Bladestorm & Valkyria Chronicles, you get a lot of decent titles coming from the East. Over at our sister website, The Wargamer, we’ve reviewed two we want to highlight.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII (PC, PS4, Xbox One)

The thirteenth entry in the long-running Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, this was originally released in 2016; however an English-language version of the game wasn’t put out until later that year.

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Alex Connelly reviewed the game for us, and was very impressed by its take on a focal point in Chinese history:

Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII is a unique grand strategy experience, buoyed by its focus on personalities and proficiencies but grounded by low-grade drudgery and an interface that belies its console roots. The game's lighter combat won't delight Total Warriors, nor will civil engineers find much to love in its civic simplicity. But, you've a predilection for role-playing history -- I mean really soaking in the era by name and face -- Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII is as close to an interactive Gao Xixi drama as you'll get. If you’ve well-thumbed volumes of Luo Guanzhong’s epic on your shelf, even better.

You can read the rest of Alex’s 4-star review here. It’s got a ‘Mixed’ rating on Steam (49%), but that mainly appears to be because of the price.

Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence (PC, Playstation 4)

Another long-running series, this is actually the 14th entry in the grand-strategy epic covering the Sengoku Jidai period in Japan. It was first released in Japan in 2013, but the western release didn’t grace our shores until September 2015. It bares many similarities to Shogun 2: Total War at first glance, but as Alex was keen to point out in his review, that’s not the whole story...

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But this is not Shogun: Total War. You come to Sphere of Influence to play Football Manager: Sengoku Edition; to develop and expand a roster of loyal retainers, ameliorating clan deficiencies while playing dastardly hands in the court of neighbouring Daimyo. It's a grand strategy of people. The aforementioned ability by Koei to make the every aspect of governance seem enthralling be it deliberating on which ward receives the agricultural upgrade to which officers will lead the next war party. And while I yearn for greater depth in overlays (why isn't there an option to display each Lord's name or avatar next to the castle or town they oversee on the strategic map?) and less spelunking through interface, the historical ambiance is made richer through the raft of characters, fine music and tasteful map.

You can read the rest of his 4-star review here. As of today, the game has a ‘Very Positive’ (83%) rating on Steam

That’s all for this week’s From the Archive. We’ll be doing another run of these in two weeks’ time. Current plan is to work through older content until we run out, then we’ll probably be changing up the format slightly! Enjoy your weekends!

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