Dragon Throne: Battle of Red Clifffs

Snap84_1Dragon Throne: Battle of Red Cliffs is the sequel to Fate of the Dragon — and unfortunately, it shares many of the same problems that made its predecessor half chore and half fun to play. As in Fate of the Dragon, the setting is 3rd-century China. Throne’s three campaign modes are inspired by the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and are prefaced with quotations from the book. Whether you choose to play as Cao Cao, Sun Quan, or Lieu Bei, the game ends with the fabled Battle of Red Cliffs, where the “three kingdoms†were decided.

In an odd twist, all of the spoken dialogue is in Chinese – a design decision that adds more historical flavor to the product, but one that makes it a lot harder for non-Chinese speaking people to follow through the scripted missions. You probably won’t have the patience to reach the end of each campaign.

Throne’s tech tree offers more than 100 items to research, but many of them are simply variations on improved production or better armor protection for troops, and the process soon becomes a tedious exercise in repetition. And remember the idea of different buildings for production? Object Software decided to go that route with troop production: rather than have existing barracks crank out better-equipped soldiers once an improved weapons shop is researched, you have to create new barracks, adding to the general feeling of confusion you’ll doubtless be experiencing by this point in a level.

Snap54_1You’d expect battles to offer some excitement, but thanks to a lack of formations, these conflicts wind up as chaotic melees. The inclusion of camps, supply wagons and taxes does add an element of realism to your efforts at conquest, but then again, it’s just one more of the myriad things you’ll have to worry about in a game that deluges you with micromanagerial headaches. While the game does deserve points for historical information, fair isometric graphics and an exotic feel, none of it is enough to mask the feature stampede that has more place in a tactical game, not action-strategy.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, Win95

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