I'm screwed. Really. Maybe it's because I constantly overwork my entire population of peasants into revolt, or because I flip a coin to decide if I execute the enemy officers, but I just know there's some list down there with my name on it. But at least I'm going in style. Damning yourself to eternal suffering has never been so enjoyable as it is with "Romance of the Three Kingdoms X." ROTKX is a strategy game set in ancient China, where the player takes control of a officer in the history of that time period. All the original officers are real people from history, taken from the novel by Luo Guanzhong. But if you'd like, you can create your own, chosen from a wide variety of stats and traits.
Once you start the game, you are either a free officer, vassal, prefect (mayor), viceroy (governor) or sovereign (leader). You can also become part of a wandering band. The stats and position you chose before the game begins will affect what role you play. Officers with high War will take up arms on the front lines, those with Intelligence will develop technology at home, Political characters can cause and disarm conflicts, and those with Charisma and Leadership can recruit soldiers and other officers.
There is a wide variety of possible actions: Players can duel and debate their friends and foes, work on the many aspects of the cities the game takes place in, travel the interactive map (one of the best new features of ROTKX) doing requests for the townsfolk, or lead armies bravely into battle. The possibilities with ROTKX are endless.
Flaws are there, but they're mostly minor annoyances. The biggest grievance I have is the difficulty of debates. The player can choose to skip the debate and have the results calculated for a fair match, but if you actually take control of your officer, the randomness can make even the most intelligent heroes lose enough to become a possibly mentally deficient bandit. Taking land late in the game can be a total bitch, and once the country is completely divided up, it may as well stay that way for 100 more years. This might be intentional, but I've noticed that all the other officers are total jerks to you until you become their superior—or very famous. Programming error or subtle social commentary? You decide.
The graphics of ROTKX are really lacking, but if you're familiar with the title, that won't surprise you. Officer portraits are better than in the previous game, but the areas onscreen are still last-gen quality. It's not the focus of the series, but you'd think Koei could've thrown in some upgrades. The music is appealing in some places, but be prepared to get annoyed if you stay in one area for a long time. It's like being stuck in an elevator with really syrupy muzak.
The Warring States period of Ancient China was a legendary time. Thousands of intricate plots to overthrow enemy warlords to take control of the country existed, and there is truly enough written and then embellished about this period that you could spend a lifetime studying it. ROTKX is an intricate recreation of this, with thousands of characters and nine different scenarios to play. It is impossible to have the same game twice, which is a very good thing.