During the late-second century in China, a rebellion known as the Yellow Turban Rebellion
, combined with the fall of the Han Dynasty
, China was thrown into a time known as the Three Kingdoms period.
During this time, three Dynasties, the Wei, Shu and Wu, fought for control of China. And thus began the Romance of The Three Kingdoms.
Based on the historical novel of the same name
, the game focuses on the many important figures in Chinese history as they battle for the leadership of China. The game has gone through numerous iterations, with XI being the latest. While the early games focused on battling, the later games added roleplaying elements in which you could choose to play everything from a wandering Ronin to a powerful Warlord, with your ultimate goal to reunite China under one banner - namely, that of your leader's.
I only have experience with VII on the PS2, which is a mere $9.99 used, so that's all I have good information for. At the beginning of the game, you choose a scenario, such as the Yellow Turban Rebellion, and play out the events that took place during that time. Then you choose a character, such as an Officer or a Prefect, and serve your liege faithfully (or overthrow him and rule the kingdom yourself). Each turn takes place over one month, and during that time you can send letters or visit your friends (it's highly important to have a strong bond with your liege, and if you're relationship with an enemy officer is strong enough you can get them to defect to your side), patrol your city and help the villagers, train your skills or get a tutor, improve the conditions of your city, drill your troops or attack any neighboring regions.
The role you choose has a very large impact on the core gameplay. As an Officer, you must rise through the ranks until you can become a Prefect or Warlord and command Officers of your own. Until then, it's important to hone your skills in combat, should your Liege order you to march into an enemy's region, keep strong bonds with fellow Officers, Prefects, Warlords and especially your Liege (if you don't have a good bond with your Liege or Prefect, they will not allow you to drill troops or improve the city). If you're loyal and prove your worth in battle, your Liege will upgrade your rank until you are a Warlord or Prefect. And should you serve your Liege faithfully then, you might even be named his successor.
The overall goal of the game is the unification of China. As Liege you must keep your people happy and attack your bordering territories in order to have a greater hold on the country. As a Ronin, you can wonder the land freely and train yourself, or find a Liege you are happy with and join his army as an Officer. Warlords and Prefects handle a collection of cities and order Officers around.
Battle plays a big part in the game, and is one of the most exciting aspects of the game. As Liege, you can command a 'march' into enemy land and try to take it for yourself. Officers can act as Tacticians, planning the overall strategy of each battle. This plays a very large part in determining victory or defeat, and if you're army outnumbers the opposition but has a poor strategy, they are destined to fail. The battle ends when all the enemy officers are captured, retreat or surrender. Afterwards, the Liege can offer them a place in his army, release them or execute them. With the troops diminished, Officers must recruit wandering Ronin and train them into fierce warriors, and keep the villages and cities in good condition.
One of the biggest downsides to the game (VII, that is), is that if you're not a Liege, Warlord or Prefect, you'll be spending a lot of time training and improving the city, until your Prefect asks you to aid him in battle. Most of the game's "roleplaying" elements consist of increasing a stat that seems to have no immediate effect, and visiting the people you need to suck up to in order to command troops. However, at higher levels of play, it can be an exciting game.
This thread is an all-purpose Romance of The Three Kingdoms discussion.