China, the future successor to the USA as the leader of the world both politically and economically has got a history filled with blood, passion and treasury. I am not versed in the historical events depicted in Romance of the Three Kingdoms(RTK) Touch but I found it really interesting to find out more about them. I have played Koei games for years featuring the characters of the Three Kingdoms but never really grasped that they were real heroes living about 1800 years ago. Hack n slashing hundreds of enemies in games such as Dynasty Warriors for the Xbox did not really prepare me for RTK Touch. Sure the characters are the same such as Lu Bu, Cao Cao and Zhuge Liang but RTK Touch is a turn-based strategy game not demanding any button mashing at all.
RTK Touch is totally controlled by touch, and the entire interface feels responsive. The game is divided into two parts depending on the perspective. The main aspect of the game is to build and maintain your territory. For each turn every city can make one move ranging from developing the technology making farmers more productive to marching out into battle to conquer a nearby city. You get proper stats for each territory showing the level of productivity, order in the city, amount of gold and food available and most importantly the number of troops and officers. To march out into battle you have to have at least one available officer to bring the pain to the enemy. Gold and food is really important too, without food the battle is lost before it begins as soldiers can’t fight on empty stomachs. It is also important to have at least one officer left in the city you march from as you will desert it otherwise.
Battles bring you to the second part of the game, the turn based battle. For each troop you have you can make one move each day. A battle ends in either defeat for one faction or automatically after 30 days. Battles are also hurried by the food supplies stretching thin if you try to wage a war of slowly hurting the enemy. Chinese battles where quick with a lot of deaths in a short time. For each troop you have a number of moves to select from. Movement to get into good positions are key as you can surround the enemy, and make attacks supported by all surrounding troops in the same turn. There are a also risky attacks involving firing arrows, and attacking until your unit dies but of course it is preferred that the enemies perish first. The battles can be turned off completely, and to speed up the game I have it turned off most of the time. I like the civilised building of cities more, and a battle takes quite a lot of time. If you are a war aficionado you will love the battles, as they really demand your strategic mind.
RTK Touch is a beautiful game with nice screens depicting events such as funerals, plagues and invasions of locusts. The main map screen is what it is, and I guess many readers cringe from the thought of spending a lot of time with a map. By using pinch in/pinch out you can zoom in and out making it easier to take a look at the numbers of opposing cities.
RTK Touch is a slow game that takes quite a while to complete. You get four historical scenarios, and a fantasy one. They take place during 190 AD to 230 AD, and as you can choose which faction you want to represent RTK Touch has more or less infinite gamelife. The generals all have different abilities, and there are a total of 255 unique characters in the game.
You don’t have to be skilled in turn based strategy games or familiar with the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games or history to succeed and enjoy RTK Touch. The tutorial is really good at getting you up to speed on how to run your kingdom, and control your troops. I am crap as a general in battle, but quite good at keeping my people happy and as I can choose not to be a general I do so. Getting to know the historical characters is recommended, and the 2008 movie Red Cliff directed by John Woo is a nice way to get both action and a bit of feeling for the characters.
The music in RTK Touch is Chinese classical music ranging from ambient to bombastic depending on the situation. You can’t play your own music by other means than using a headset with microphone button to turn your previously played music on.
There is nothing to unlock or achieve in RTK Touch. You play a scenario, beat it, and play it again using another general. If you have a need to have records of your prior games you have to keep those yourself on paper.
A large error made by developer Koei is the lack of autosave in the game. You have three save slots, and have to save manually. I usually play RTK Touch late at night, and the risk of getting phone calls disturbing me is low. As the game becomes more or less hypnotic when played for more than 30 minutes it is hard to remember to save properly. I like to be able to save manually though as you can take risks when attacking knowing you can load a saved game where you haven’t let your troops die horribly.
If you have played the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games on any platform, and enjoyed it you have probably already picked up RTK Touch. If you like turn based strategy games at all you should consider getting RTK Touch. If you are a complete novice to turn based strategy I recommend you to try a lite version of another turn based strategy game like for example Kings Lite to see if you like the formula. If you get twitchy and bored with real time strategy games such as C&C Red Alert you don’t have the stamina and patience to play RTK Touch so just skip it. I would love for Koei to make a lite version or drop the price from $9.99 for a while inviting hesitant buyers.
RTK Touch is a polished title showcasing the bloody time at the end of the Han dynasty in ancient China. You get a bit of history, as well as a really good strategy game in the same package. RTK Touch is certainly not for everyone, but those of you who take it on will have a good time with it. Oh, and it would probably be a good thing to know the history of our future Super Power.