Pros: Breathtaking graphics and good mix of tactics with action.
Cons: With so many options the game can be tedious and hard to get into.
In between a long period of yearly "warriors" games released by Koei,
gamers finally get a Kessen sequel. Previous Kessen games were set in
the Romance of Three Kingdoms, like the Dynasty Warriors titles. Kessen
3 makes a departure from the era. Instead it's set in the warring states
period of Japan, like Samurai Warriors. Where you step in the shoes of Nobunaga
and take on the task of uniting Japan.
Besides the local change Kessen 3 has a major system change in the
way battles are performed. Taking a cue from the Dynasty Warriors titles
Kessen 3 lets you move around and battle in real time. You're in direct
control of a general and all the troops in his unit. The troops will
follow your general and attack on command. The real time battle does
take some time to adjust to because your rows or troops won't always be
in the best position to attack. Troops can easily get stuck if you move
through a narrow passage or if they aren't set correctly. During large
battles you'll have to switch between generals, too. By pressing L2 you
can change into any of the other generals to set up back attacks or
focus on an entirely different battle. Juggling control of all these
things at once requires patience and is complex at first. Some fans of
the series might actually prefer the old Kessen style of gameplay over
live action. If you can put up with a few levels of learning you will be
able to get into the game.
Being able to manipulate troops and special abilities in real time
does give you a lot of options. If you wanted to charge into battle with
one unit and then switch to another general and charge with that unit.
You can move troops into whatever position on the map to plan out
whatever attack you dream. As long as you're willing to take time to do
it. Since it is a strategy game, Kessen 3 actually requires you to plan
your form of attack. Gamers used to more action packed games will need
to realize how important positioning and troop selection is. Troops that
follow you can do a support attack by pressing the R1. This combo can
cause a hail of arrows if you have archer troops or you can call in a
set of reinforcements if you have melee troops. Positioning is important
because you don't want enemy troops to outnumber yours and you want to
surround them if possible. At times you will need to rotate back and
forth to different units just to set them up for an attack.
All of that is just in battle planning. First you will need to select
the type of troops you want. Do you want slow and powerful troops like
spear foot soldiers or mounted warriors? Or are you going to be more
tactful and use bombardiers and ninjas? With all of these different
options battles can suit your play style. Other before battle planning
requires you to select teams, equip armor and go through a set of menus
just to do all of this. Early on, mistakes in pre-battle planning can
cost an entire battle. So you want to be sure you select your generals
and equipment carefully. Setting general's equipment is one of the
coolest features in pre battle planning. You can equip the generals with
a large number of weapons and armor. These items can customize the look
of a general, and better yet alter their attack or defense.
Each general from Nobunga to Koroku has their own level by acting in
a battle. To counter using the same generals over and over Kessen 3
requires that you generals sit out of a battle to recover health. While
this does encourage rotating different who you select, the game still
prefers having high level generals rather than a bunch of mid level
ones. The difference can really be seen when you have required generals
in a battle. If it happens that you ignore a general for a while and
then they're thrown into a difficult battle you'll have a hard fight on
Kessen 3 is an excellent showcase of the Playstation 2's hardware.
The game has impressive FMV sequences with lifelike character models and
fluid motion. The actual in game graphics are nice looking too. The
distant camera makes a skirmish look like an epic struggle. Also the
well detailed, lower resolution battle graphics still look good and have
little slow down. The environments in Kessen 3 are another treat. Even
though they may seem long and barren they have an artistic feel to them.
Kessen 3 has twelve chapters to complete with multiple battles in
each chapter. Even after you complete the game a new game plus feature
allows additional reply. Even if it is a little more inaccessible, the
new system in Kessen 3 is a welcome change. The blend of action and
planning suits this title well.
Kessen 3 has lots and lots of menus, which makes it very unfriendly
to non native speakers.
Koei has a US release date set for February 22, 2005.
The good mix of action, planning and jaw dropping visuals in Kessen
3 will please the majority of gamers out there.