There are a lot of medieval RTS out in the world; all of them are different. But one thing that they all have in common is that they all lack in war realism. Many have tried but didn’t really make the cut. Often the realism comes in the way of the gameplay and fun. And this is where Three Kingdoms stands out. It is one of the most realistic medieval RTSes I've ever played. And still its fun to play! This is the story in short. It’s 2nd Century China. The Eastern Han Dynasty has just collapsed. You take the role of a Chinese warlord, while choosing one of the three different characters available. They are all very similar, and the only difference is the storyline; there are no special units available here. That’s all good and fair, however there is one thing that rapidly makes the realism disappear. The three lords can use magic, a thing Eidos should have left on the drawing table. It’s one of the faults in the game. Another faults that I personally call faults, is the lack of units. The units available in the game are: the archer, the swordsman, and the pikeman. They aren’t very well balanced either, but they are very realistic units, with realistic strengths and faults.
And then we have the "heroes". “The "heroes", what is that?” you may think. The "heroes" are mercenaries that have the same powers as the three lords, and they are your generals in the game. You can recruit them at the inn (HOMM anyone?). The "heroes" and the three lords are the only units with the special ability to gain experience. Too bad that you can’t keep them after a scenario is over; in every new scenario you have to rebuild your armies and hire new heroes. Generally their magic abilities aren’t so good, as the only good spell they can use is "leech", which, as the name suggests, draws your opponent's life and adds it to your own. A nice spell that is best used against "heroes" fighting on the other side. To keep your "heroes" loyal to you, you have to award them when you see the "loyalty meter" going down. If their loyalty has fallen too low, they will leave your forces, as well as take part of their troops with them.
The game’s cutscenes aren’t very well done, but the fast loading makes up to it. And the campaigns actually have a story behind them... Overall, Three Kingdoms looks a lot like Age of Empires, both in graphics and sound. That is good, as Age of Empires is an excellent RTS game. However there are many differences that make this game different from all other Age of Empires clones out there.... One innovative feature in the game that I really liked was that almost every unit can ride horses; only the workers and the "heroes" that weren’t trained in combat can’t use the horse. All towns have a stone wall around them as protection when you start a new scenario, so you can expand while being relatively safe from an enemy invasion. But one thing that I really had a problem with was that it takes too much time to play the game! The units are really slow, and it takes about 30 minutes before you can consider invading an enemy town, which is quiet a bit of time for an RTS game. Why? Because you have to build up huge amounts of food so you can feed your units out on the battlefield. Realistic, yes. Fun, no.
However because of the time it takes to finish a scenario, Three Kingdoms will last relatively long. It is overall a good game, with many new original ideas. I had a fun time playing it, and the "I’ll play just a few more minutes" feeling was there. If you like medieval RTS games, buy this one. If you like RTS games about the Chinese dynasty, buy this game. But of you liked Soldier of Fortune, your better off not buying this game =) . On a scale from 1 to 10, where 10 is the best, I give this game an 8,2. And by giving it an overall of 8,2 points, I will now finish the review with some wise words I heard from a Chinese man in the game. "A saint once said: think of death while living, think of danger while safe."