Ancient Asia has always offered a very rich, beautiful, and complex atmosphere, from the way the buildings and culture are presented to the way the government is run. Dragon Throne, a game based in the Ancient Chinese era, definitely takes advantage of this trait. Based upon the centuries-old novel "Romance of the Three Kingdoms", this game includes some factual characters to command (Sun Quan, Cao Cao, and Liu Bei), while also leaving you the ability to use the fictional parts of the game to change history.
The graphics in Dragon Throne are much like any other current RTS title, with the exception of games that use polygons like Empire Earth. Running at a resolution of either 800x600 or 1024x768, the game’s textures are sharp and crisp, offering beautiful buildings and environments. Animations are also up to part with just about any other RTS.
Sound / Music:
From the get-go, you’ll notice this game has some superior sound, especially for a real-time strategy title. The voice-overs are entirely spoken in Chinese, with scrolling English text for those of you who happen to not speak Chinese. Sound effects are presented well, with the sounds of clanging swords, hammers, and the like. The background music is also very nicely composed. As you’d expect, the game’s music is styled after ancient Chinese music. Even if you don’t normally get your groove on whenever the latest Chinese tune is released, you will still like the atmosphere this music adds to the game.
Laborers, the lowest in superiority, are the backbone of your kingdom. They build you houses, farms, each type of barracks, workshops, along with gathering and farming your raw materials. These laborers also have tasks unique to Dragon Throne. Let’s say you built a farm. You will not get any resources from that farm until you send up to five laborers in it to work. You would then assign them to either farming corn or obtaining meat. Barracks are similar to this since you must send your laborers to be trained in them, thus making a soldier.
Obtaining gold is different than most RTS games. Your gold is brought in by monthly taxes, based on the tax rate you set and the population of your city. If you aren’t careful with your tax rates and production, you may drive people out of your city, causing you to lose money.
Combat is just like any other RTS game. You build up your army, which can consist of archers, swordsmen, and pikemen, and various machines like stone-launchers. Then you simply send them into combat, using your warriors (much like heroes found in other RTS games) for special abilities like healing and for various special attacks. One surprising combat feature was when I first killed an enemy swordsman on a horse. After he died, he actually fell off the horse, allowing my swordsman to commandeer the horse! I’d have to say this is one of the coolest characteristics I’ve seen in a while.
Multiplayer is basically the same as the single player game, with the exception of mission objectives. On the disappointing side, you’re only given the options of connecting to other games via IPX, modem to modem, or an IP address. Without a server browser, it’s pretty difficult to find another person to play against.
Object Software and Strategy First have created a pretty decent title that would be welcome in many RTS fans’ library of games. If you’re dying for a new RTS game with some unique aspects, I definitely recommend giving Dragon Throne: Battle of Red Cliffs a try.